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Art at RIC

The Good Schools Guide, reviewing RIC said: 'It's hard to imagine better provision for an artist.' We were one of the first independent schools in Kent to receive an Artsmark back in 2008.

We’re a school where the centrality of the arts is evidenced by a curriculum where it’s a case of Artsbacc not Ebacc, in the range of our student achievements, in our staff, facilities and the variety of arts based community projects supported.

A level students enjoy an Art College atmosphere where they are welcomed at all times during the working week, not just during lesson times. Spacious studio spaces are available with individual working zones for fine art students and an open area for graphics, textiles, ceramics and photography students. All those who teach within the department are active, practicing artists, designers and photographers whose concern for the subject is not restricted to teaching and who therefore bring freshness of experience.

By the time students leave RIC they know how to work, they know better who they are and can take responsibility for themselves and the direction of their art. The final outcome of artistic activity and personal reflection is as important as the journey that gets students to that point. Art students often benefit from the theoretical and historical insights gained by studying A level Art History alongside their creative subjects.

There is a culture of encouraging students to become active and involved in their own learning by referring them to other sources. Art, Photography, Graphics and Art History students are all inducted into using the neighbouring University of the Creative Arts library.

Students specialise in one of the following areas:

  • Fine Art (including drawing, painting, sculpture and printmaking)
  • Graphic Design (including corporate identity, packaging, illustration, printmaking and computer aided design)
  • Photography (including traditional and digital photography, studio techniques, lighting and Photoshop)
  • Textiles (including fashion)

Students are able to combine Visual Arts courses with additional A levels in Art History, Theatre Studies, English, Film Studies and Media Studies. Students at the end of their courses are well placed to proceed to either degree or foundation programmes at Art Colleges and universities.

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Prize winning art work at Rochester Independent College

RIC students have swept the artistic board, winning a record ELEVEN prestigious arts awards in a prestigious competition organised by The Independent Schools Association.

The awards include work in fashion and textiles, film and digital media, ceramic design and fine art.

Principal Alistair Brownlow says: “We are very proud of our talented students who have been so successful in the competition for the London and the South East region. Their work will now go forward to the national competitions. At RIC we are a boarding school that specialises in helping students prepare for careers in the creative industries and students studying GCSEs and A levels with us are also able to build up impressive portfolios for university and art school entrance.”

Year 13 student Gigi Tang (pictured) who won the Key Stage 4 Fashion and Accessories from Hong Kong says “I think it is one of the best decisions I have made in my life to come and study art in the UK and Rochester. Since arts here have really amazed me and I feel really free to express myself creatively, which I have never felt before. It is unexpected for me to win that competition since I am actually more passionate about photography which I want to study at university, maybe at UAL or Goldsmiths. I just want to say I have met a lots brilliant creative arts teachers here at Rochester, and I think this is one of the reasons I was able to produce the prize winning work.”

Digital artists at RIC have also been successful in winning prizes. Peyi Johnson’s film ‘Disconnected’ was described by the judges as “a raw, disturbing animation about the mental health challenges of lockdown contained powerful imagery, twinned with an all-too-relatable cautionary tale about mobile phone obsession. It generated real empathy for the tortured main character, the soundtrack was brutally effective, and it packed a real punch overall.” The film can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w59lJUu4Glk.

Regular half and one-day artist’s workshops are held to encourage a broad approach to the creative process.

An artist in residence scheme is in place with a diverse range of artists, photographers and designers working with students on the college premises throughout the year.

Life drawing is part of the culture of the department and classes are held for A level students.

There is an annual summer show where the students’ work is showcased. A recent show of RIC student work was at ‘The Deaf Cat’ café and studio space on Rochester High Street, one of Medway’s newest artistic hubs

We are always very proud of our artwork produced by ex students who are humblingly generous with it. Notable examples are Aya Nambu’s pieces that remained largely unsullied by graffiti in Rochester Station for nearly 12 years before we rehomed them at RIC when the station moved.

Year 7 student Millie recently won the national competition to design the cover of the Christmas edition of the Big Issue! Millie's design was one of 1200 entries.

Celebrating in July 2017 is Harry Taylor who was at RIC from Year 7 to sixth form. Harry graduated with a first class degree from Falmouth University in Graphic Design and is set to take the industry by storm after winning a D&AD (Global Association for Creative Advertising & Design Awards) Newblood Yellow Pencil.

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Recent trips organised by the Art Department include overseas visits to Paris as well as many visits to the V & A, Tate Modern, the National Portrait Gallery, the Abstract Expressionism and Ai Wei Wei exhibitions at the Royal Academy, the London Museum of Transport, the Saatchi Gallery and the Royal Academy, The Design Museum, Zandra Rhodes’s Museum of Fashion and Textiles in Bermondsey, the Computer Arts Graduate Showcase at Cafe 1001, Brick Lane, the Museum of Brands, Advertising and Packaging in Notting Hill, the Powell Cotton Museum in Birchington and Billy Childish’s studio in Whitstable.

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I came to RIC shortly after moving to England from Lithuania. I tried going to a state school first but found it a very unpleasant environment. The informal nature of RIC made it feel welcoming- a place where you were heard, seen and cared about. I joined at 13, in year 10. For A level I chose to do subjects in arts and humanities- fine art, drama, english, history of art and philosophy. I enjoyed the critical, academic aspects of philosophy, english and history of art which provided me with analytic skills whereas drama and fine art allowed plenty of room for creativity and exploration. The Fine Art department was the place where I spent most of my time- from lessons to lunchtimes. The staff were not only inspiring teachers but also friends who supported my artistic (and not only) development for four years. It was here that I gained a love for art and became certain I wanted to carry on doing it at university. When it came to applications, I was given help and advice on my portfolio as well as encouragement. I went on to do a foundation in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins. I think this course was an invaluable experience for me- I learnt to develop, inform and challenge my art practice further. After completing a BA, I hope to work as a practicing artist, art critic or a curator. 

Ginte won a place UCL's Slade School of Fine Art after her foundation at Central Saint Martins. 

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