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Thursday, 18 September 2014

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Students draw on wealth of talent for professional debut

ONE day you’ll look back and remember their first professional exhibition – their first step on the road to success.

But only if you visit the Power of Ten exhibition in Hexham’s Queen’s Hall, now!

For the Queen Elizabeth High School students whose work has been selected are already on their way.

Degrees in fine art, fashion and architecture beckon. As, in many cases, does London.

The 10th annual exhibition of A-level students’ work is as big, bold and diverse as they come, and art teacher Amanda Shotton, for one, is very proud.

“There is a real variety of work on show in a number of different styles and mediums, ranging from painting and collage through to photography and digital productions,” she said.

“We are celebrating the 10th anniversary of these exhibitions and it is a big accolade that the Queen’s Hall has given us the main Gallery One.”

That was testimony to the strength of the students’ work, she added. “They are so talented and it’s lovely to see their work in a professional environment.”

Isabella Winthrop, who already has her A-levels under her belt and is off to the London College of Fashion in September, used textiles for the representation of a human heart she has in the exhibition.

She said: “There are lots of different textures, representing the layers and complexity of the human heart.

“As you grow and age and experience life, your heart is battered and mended, patched back together again.”

Thomas Allison has also drawn on the natural world for inspiration, this time juxtaposing rock formations and crystalline forms.

“My work is quite scientific,” he said. “I try to conceptualise scientific discovery in an art work, because that makes it more human and therefore accessible.

“I hope my work opens up a point of discussion and a way in for people.”

Thomas aims to become a fully-fledged artist and has a place lined up at Central St Martin’s College, part of University of the Arts London.

Genevieve Strong is more used to painting human portraits, but decided to experiment with wildlife for a change.

She produced the picture of an owl chosen for the exhibition after studying the work of West Woodburn artist Mary Ann Rogers and her approach to bird life.

“I found them a lot harder to paint,” she said. “Because with humans the surface is usually so smooth where the light hits it, but with animals there are many different contours, textures and colours.”

Genevieve aims to do the one-year art foundation course at Newcastle College, as several of the former QEHS students featured in the exhibition have done this past year, before hopefully going on to university.

Lucy Willis and Joe Ridealgh both took advantage of the digital equipment belonging to the Queen’s Hall that the school had access to for the first time, but to very different effect.

Lucy’s film short featured a very patient friend who stood completely still for hours on end while Lucy used special effects to fade and blend her into the background.

Joe, meanwhile, painstakingly converted the moves performed by a friend-cum-dancer into an animated sequence he built into a music video.

While Lucy aims to study marketing and management in the creative industries at university, Joe intends to go into architecture.

Queen’s Hall general manager Annette Dickson said: “I can’t believe it’s 10 years since we first started working with Queen Elizabeth High School on these exhibitions!

“But during that time we’ve watched the students go from strength to strength and enjoyed the fact they have learnt new skill sets in relation to mounting their work in a public, professional space.”

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