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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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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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A Level Photo Harry

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. 

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

A one week ‘foundation’ style art week is held just prior to the start of term for all A level art and design students. This is important for students to get to know each other, identify as a group, and meet their tutors

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Ginte Barzdaityte

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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Art History A Level

Art History A level

If newspaper gossip is to be believed, Kate Middleton chose to study history of art to bag herself a prince. You may be setting your sights slightly lower than marrying royalty, like gaining good grades to attend university, perhaps.

Securing a high grade at A Level in just 9 months is highly achievable with this well established intensive one year A level course. Our students enjoy History of Art so much that some go off to university to study the subject; while others have used their high grade as leverage for degree studies in Classical Civilisation, History, Architecture and English Literature.

This traditional, essay based subject is welcomed by all of the more traditional universities and our students have proceeded to study the subject at universities ranging from Edinburgh and Birmingham to Oxford and UCL. Former students who have taken History of Art at RIC are now working at the BBC, the V&A and as practicing artists and film makers themselves.

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Why does Michelangelo’s David have such big hands? Why do Picasso’s women look so distorted? Is Prince Charles right about modern architecture? The study of visual culture has many aspects to explore – from looking closely at individual works of art to identify different artists’ styles and techniques; to exploring the religious, political and cultural contexts in which artworks are made. The subject takes in a breadth of history that you won’t come across in most A Levels – taking in the period from 500 BC-2000AD. While this may seem daunting, we cover most of the important movements broadly for the analytical skills necessary for unit 1; while for units 2, 3 and 4 our focus is on our passion for twentieth century art. We explore the explosion of art movements in the century from Fauvism to the Young British Artists, examining how artists and architects responded to the technological and cultural changes of the era – using radical new materials and developing daring art forms. We also look at how artists reflected on their social and political circumstances.

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It is important to view works of art firsthand and the History of Art department regularly visits London’s galleries including the Courtauld Institute, The National Gallery, Tate Britain and Tate Modern. Past trips have also included visits to Barcelona, Florence and Rome.

History of Art overlaps effectively with analytical essay based subjects such as English Literature and History. The discipline develops in students the ability to deconstruct artworks in their historical contexts which is a key aspect of English Literature and Film Studies. Many Fine Art students also take the subject as it enhances the visual analysis skills needed to comment on their own artwork and provides inspiration for their own ideas.

In summary, there is definitely more to History of Art A Level than being able to stand in an art gallery, wearing a beret and proclaiming loudly, ‘perfectly integrated… with a marvellous negative capability’,it can also be a rewarding subject to study that will help you bag that university place (or prince).

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