Rockport School to work with Rockstars of UK & Irish Art Scene

GCSE Pupils at Rockport School are getting unique access to the rockstars of the UK and Irish art world thanks to a new programme called Stretching the Canvas.

The scheme is aimed at inspiring young students towards a career in visual arts; by giving them studio time, mentoring and support from some of the UK and Ireland’s finest contemporary artists.  It is being delivered through Visual Arts Ireland and is made possible through Standard Utilities’ sponsorship.

Stretching the Canvas

The programme will see internationally recognised visual artists, Susan MacWilliam, Liam Crichton, Miguel Martin and Jane Butler lend their time and experience to Rockport students during the academic year.

Paul Lutton, Head of Arts at Rockport School, said, “Stretching the Canvas is about inspiring and empowering young students with a talent for art, by introducing them directly to those who are making a successful career in the visual arts field.  Through this year-long programme, our students will not only broaden their awareness of contemporary visual art but also enhance their verbal, written, decision making and research skills.  Young people facing school subject choices and careers decisions desperately need real-world inspiration, role modelling and support in every field, and none more so than in the arts.  This programme represents an incredible opportunity for our pupils. 

The professional artists will work directly with the pupils to share their own experiences and discuss career development.  Together with the students they will explore a range of art making techniques including sculpture, media, drawing, painting, photography and moving image.  The young people will also have the opportunity to visit the artists’ own art studios to see at first-hand how they develop their unique creative processes.

Students will also receive mentorship from The International Association of Art Critics (AICA) Ireland! The AICA will teach them a serious business practicalities such as how to write art statements, handle criticism and how to exhibit their work. 

Standard Utilities

Brian Nixon, Director of Standard Utilities, which is sponsoring the programme said, “We have worked closely with numerous local arts organisations, large and small, providing them with fit-for-purpose and value for money telecoms systems and supporting their work.  Being close to this sector, and seeing the pressure brought about by the continuing cuts to arts funding, Standard Utilities feel that it is the responsibility of business to step in to ensure the continuing development of the arts here.   We believe that the Stretching the Canvas program offers substantial benefit to the aspiring artists of the future.”

Stretching the Canvas will culminate in a week-long exhibition by the Rockport students at the Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast, in April 2017.  A special evening with a celebrated artist will launch the exhibition of the students’ final pieces, alongside a lively panel discussion about art in Northern Ireland. 

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