Aside

Sad face

An update on my shortlisted proposal for the art commission at Abingdon School… well, my proposal was submitted, my designs developed and numerous conversations with various studios helped me to flesh out my ideas. I spent four hours last Friday driving to my interview, including a very tense hour spent in standstill traffic outside Oxford wondering how late it was going to make me! And after my interview, I felt fairly confident that I’d got my ideas across to the panel of six representatives from the school.

However I had my hesitations and I didn’t want to go full steam ahead without raising the prospect of the challenge that I faced in getting the budget to work. In the end, I think this may have raised doubts as the commission was being managed on a tight schedule, and I was told this week that I didn’t make it through to the next stage.

Design for Abingdon School

It’s a real shame, as I think the glass would have looked spectacular. Ironically it wasn’t the glass that was causing such an issue with the budget, but the supporting structure. A pair of stainless steel beams to hold the glass panel would have taken 40% of the budget, and this was the simplest solution. I was looking into alternative methods of supporting the 600 kg of glass in the 10 metre high glass wall that I was proposing, despite the fact that the roof was not to be load bearing, and I may well have come up with an innovative solution that could have cost less but, alas, time was running out. However the design of the glass itself presented no such challenges and I had an immediate image in my head as soon as I read the brief. The artwork was to be installed in the new Science Centre, within the main staircase, and it was intended to represent the three sciences that were located on each floor. My concept was based around the way that I feel boys learn (Abingdon is a boys’ school) and, with a sixteen year old son who’s just finished his GCSEs, this is a pretty pertinent subject matter for me.

Boys’ learning seems to me to me much less consistent than that of girls. Boys seem to spend a lot of time absorbing much teaching without apparently learning much! Then somehow a teacher or parent says something in the right way and that acts as a key that opens a door of learning and suddenly they make great strides forward. So my artwork is a trail of iconography representing the curriculum across the seven years for each of the three sciences. But every so often one of these images is picked out in golden hues to symbolise the metaphorical door to learning being opened. The history of Abingdon School has a strong association with the number 63, and my artwork represented this numerically with an image symbolising each of the three terms of the year, for each of the seven years a boy will be at the school and for each of the three sciences which adds up to 63 images in the artwork.

Glass Proposal for Abingdon School

It’s really a pity┬áthat they didn’t go for it, but I’ll be following future developments on the commission with interest.

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