Pupils' artwork reaches Parliament

10th October 2008 at 01:00
They have been displayed in a range of venues, and a grandfather has sobbed in front of one of them. Welcome to Higher art

Two years ago, it was in a converted double-decker bus; last year, it was in a hall at the National Gallery; this year, it is at the Scottish Parliament. More than 180 pieces by Higher art candidates will go on show from October 15 until November 6, for everyone from politicians to tourists to students to wonder at. All schools are invited - and travel grants are available.

"Art is meant to be displayed," says Jennifer di Folco, qualifications manager for art and design at the Scottish Qualifications Authority. "It is great for these young people to get a platform to show what they are capable of; the standards they are achieving."

It is the third year that Mrs di Folco and her colleagues have organised an exhibition of students' work, but this is the culmination of a dream she has had for some time.

"I am proud we will be exhibiting at the parliament. I love the building," says Mrs di Folco. "But this exhibition is only the beginning."

Each year, the exhibitions have got bigger, and this year the work has been divided into three, with two further shows in the pipeline later in the session.

Only Higher work will feature at the Parliament, but it will include art from all sectors in the curriculum, including fashion, jewellery, product design, 3D, expressive arts and graphics. There will be 10 garments on display, plus architectural drawings, sculpture, portraiture and print- making.

The second exhibition, almost as big, will show work by Standard grade, Intermediate 1 and 2 and Higher candidates at the People's Palace in Glasgow from December 1 to January 16. Finally, 14 candidates from Advanced Higher are being given a unique opportunity to exhibit their efforts at the National Gallery in Edinburgh from January 21 to March 20.

"It is important to exhibit this work as it gives students and teachers an opportunity to see what other schools are doing. It inspires and educates," says Mrs di Folco.

"It is also a chance for the families of those exhibiting to see their work. Last year, I met a grandfather who was standing sobbing in front of his grand-daughter's work because he was so proud."

Last year, more than 10,000 pupils and teachers flocked to see the SQA exhibition at the National Gallery in Edinburgh. This year, the authority expects booked visitor numbers to the three exhibitions to far exceed that, especially as sponsorship from various sources will allow it to offer schools travel grants. "I met a headteacher and some of his pupils last year at the National Gallery, who had driven for five hours to get there," says Mrs di Folco. "People from all over Scotland want to see these exhibitions, and we want to help them."

The work to be displayed at the exhibitions was chosen during assessments for the qualifications, with assessors picking out 50 key pieces each day. Mrs di Folco and her team had to whittle them down, while ensuring there was a good geographical spread and range of media. They then had to request permission from the pupils.

Each candidate has been given a print of their work, but every piece chosen has become the property of the SQA and will enter its library of art work. The aim is for this library to be on offer for loan exhibitions to schools and local authorities from the middle of next year. They may never appear in the National Gallery again, or tour the country in a bus, but the SQA hopes that the works will be on display around Scotland for many years to come.

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