Handpicked by their art teachers, 24 GCSE students from across Hull are taking part in the Saturday Club, a free extra curriculum class giving them invaluable experience to help them with their coursework.
The Saturday Club, held at Hull School of Art and Design (HSAD), is being funded by Hull 2017 through a Grant Funding Agreement. When the programme is completed at the end of the current academic year it will be evaluated and could potentially run in future years.
The Saturday Club Trust provide the infrastructure to the programme. The Trust is a new charity; they’ve taken over the development of the national network of Saturday Clubs from the Sorrel Foundation. The idea is to give 13-16 year olds a unique opportunity to study subjects they love at their local college or university. They also facilitate the club and provide support and advice for tutors on how to structure it.
The HSAD club is run by Andi Dakin, a passionate artist whose art and experience spans a wide range of media and disciplines. The students attend every week across the academic year and Andi is there to teach them an expansion of the art they’ll learn on their GCSE courses and to help them to express their full artistic potential. Andi is also accompanied by HSAD students as assistants in the class and some weeks a local artist will attend in order to share their specific knowledge and skills in that week’s specialism that Andi will be concentrating on.
As part of the Saturday Club the students will also have the opportunity to take part in a number of masterclasses with renowned artists in addition to exhibiting their work in at Central St. Martins Art School, London, during November before joining an even bigger exhibition at Somerset House, London, in July 2017.
It means the world to me that my work will be exhibited in Somerset House – Ghaliah Alnaam
Walking around the classroom, you can already see incredible talent and potential budding artists, and you can understand why this course is so important for the students. Many of the students I met said they feel like being in this class has helped them in their coursework at school already, and they’re only two weeks in.
“It’s definitely benefiting me in my art classes at school, I did a shaded drawing and I knew more about making the contrast and how to show what was happening. I really do like art, it’s one of the few things I’ve kept with me for as long as I remember, and if this can help me with my GCSEs it’s definitely worth it, I can learn a lot.” – Ellie Brown, Newland School for Girls.
There’s a little bit of doubt and a sense of non-belief in the room when the students are asked what it means to have their artwork exhibited in London twice over the coming year. When I asked Ellie about it she inhaled very deeply and expressed: “It’s a bit nerve-wracking when I think about that! Sometimes I wonder ‘Why was I picked for this?!’”
To Ghaliah Alnaam from Sirius Academy North, this opportunity means a lot: “It means the world to me that my work will be exhibited in Somerset House – to be able to actually make my art be seen in a museum and for people to explore what messages I want to tell them.”
During the class I attended, Hull based artist Dom Heffer was around to lend his skill set to the students as the theme of the week was painting, his core practice. Dom explains that it’s a very generous programme and a lot of school art departments don’t get to use materials that they use here. The students also have access to a forum to critically discuss and engage with each other’s work, training them to hone in on their critical sensibilities.
If this can help me with my GCSEs it’s definitely worth it, I can learn a lot” – Ellie Brown
Having been through this process of studying art in secondary school, at A-level and at foundation level, Dom is passionate about the programme.
I think the idea of giving a taster session amongst professionals in an environment like this is brilliant because it’ll be really helpful in them deciding whether they like the flavour of further education and higher education art tutoring.
“It’s a great programme, I think that any city that has a serious ambition to have an arts community needs a thriving group of art students and I think this could really help to cultivate that and help plug a gap.” – Dom Heffer.
It’s clear to see that the students are proud to be from Hull and to be involved in the Saturday Club during Hull’s year as UK City of Culture. Ghaliah said she finds that it inspires her: “I think the art is amazing in Hull. I never thought that I would explore so many artists and meet people that are so enthusiastic about art and committed to it, it’s great.”