Official Opening of Art Barn

Oct 26

Hanford School was in full celebratory mode ahead of half term as the new Art Barn was officially opened by renowned artist, old Hanford girl and current school parent, Ann Witheridge.    Ann was joined by pupils, staff, parents, Old Girls and many friends of Hanford who had all come to see how the old shed, attached to the Grade II listed stable block, had been transformed over the summer holidays into a modern, light and beautiful new Art and Handwork Barn.

Rory Johnston, Head of Hanford, spoke to the assembled guests about the “golden thread of creativity” that was woven into every aspect of school life at Hanford and how the girls benefited hugely as a result.    Rory explained, “At Hanford we encourage creativity throughout the curriculum.  Creativity encourages curiosity, it builds perseverance, it requires children to look closely at the world around them, it enables them to find solutions to difficult problems, it builds their confidence which can then be transferred to all aspects of the girls’ lives.  This is why I can say with total confidence that girls at Hanford flourish in all areas because of this focus on creativity not despite it.”

Pupils at Hanford learn about creativity in the art and handwork classroom, but also through music, drama, the academic curriculum as well as exploring the school’s grounds and being encouraged to decide for themselves how to fill their free time.

The Art Barn is already in constant use during the day, evenings and weekends and its walls are adorned with work pupils have produced this term.   As well as housing a new art room, the new building boasts a gallery space and a large textiles/handcraft room.   The girls are exposed to a wide variety of different creative disciplines and media including pottery, drawing, printmaking, wire, papier maché, plaster and textiles.

Ann Witheridge spoke of her years at Hanford as an extraordinarily creative time, one where she learned to draw and paint and was inspired by the beauty of her surroundings.  She explained, “Even though as children we believed the learning happened in the classrooms, I now realise we were learning in every moment of our school life, being surrounded by paintings, architecture, in the garden, in chapel and with fresh flowers on the tables; the beauty and creativity seeps into you and you carry it into your later life. Despite Hanford being a small school, I have meet so many Hanford girls in my working life, following their creative dreams.”

Ann studied art history at Christ’s College, Cambridge, before moving to Italy to study art full-time.  She has been teaching the craft of drawing and painting in the atelier tradition for over twenty years and is the founder of the London Fine Art Studios.

The new Art Barn was made possible by the kind donations of many current and previous parents, Old Hanford girls, and many others who donated art, or bought art, at a fundraising art auction in 2021.   Rory Johnston thanked everyone for their support for this project, one that really underlines the school’s commitment to art, design and creativity and which has already brought so many benefits to the pupils.

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