During Michaelmas term, all College Houses were invited to take part in the annual Remembrance Day Painting Award. The competition was organised by Mr Nikolas Arvanitis, Head of Art, who initiated it in 2019 as a way of bringing art into the Houses and encouraging students to reflect on the meaning of the commemorations.
The 13 House teams were each given a large-scale canvas with an outline of a Remembrance Day silhouette. The silhouettes were representative of a wide group of people who contributed in their own ways during the wars. This year, Houses received a single silhouette of a soldier, sailor, airman, a silhouette of a Sikh soldier of the British Indian Army, or the silhouette of a suffragette.
The task was to create an artwork to honour Remembrance Day. The participants were asked to keep the integrity of the silhouette intact, but they had the freedom to do whatever they thought would best represent their House, the Epsomians and the wider community who contributed during the wars.
All Houses rose to the challenge and the students produced an outstanding and incredibly diverse set of paintings.
During Remembrance Day, the paintings were exhibited in the College’s main corridor where judges Mr Russell, Head of Sixth Form, and Ms Jallot, College’s Archivist and Art historian, decided on the overall winner and commendations for composition and creativity.
In addition to the three main awards, the College’s Chaplain, Canon Andrew Haviland, awarded the Chaplain’s Choice Award to Carr for its imaginative use of literary references the elegantly painted background of a calm sea.
The Commendation for Composition was awarded to Crawfurd and the Commendation for Creativity was awarded to Robinson.
The Overall Winner award was jointly given to Wilson and Granville.
Wilson’s entry drew upon the history of the suffragettes and their contribution during the First World War. The judging panel was impressed by the complexity of the design but also the strong contextual element of the piece. There were visual references to occupations women had to undertake during the war as well as the ‘white feather campaign’. It was clear the Wilson girls had spent time researching their subject matter and were able to produce an outstanding piece in terms of composition, creativity and context.
Granville’s entry was equally impressive, drawing upon comic book illustrations from the 1950s to convey a sense of urgency and alert the viewer to the disasters of war. The interactive nature of the piece – through the fragmented mirror – was highly commended by the panel and allowed the viewers to become active participants in the realisation and meaning of the piece.
The two winning Houses will be presented with a trophy during Final Roll in December.
The Judges’ Comments
Ms Rebecca Jallot:
“It is evident that the act of Remembrance is a whole school experience and this Art competition enhances and deepens the response further. There were three key areas that stood out for me across all the pieces produced. Firstly, that the students sought to find creative ways and, in some cases, non-traditional methods of representation. Secondly, that the artists aimed to tell a coherent story within the work that challenged the viewer to respond. Thirdly, that it became a House experience with reflective and thoughtful memories made in the collective production. I commend all of the efforts wholeheartedly.”
Mr Nick Russell:
“The whole event serves to deepen and enrich the College’s experience of Remembrance in a profound and beautiful way. This is due to the time and dedication that students have clearly devoted to researching and crafting their images, and to the experience that we can all have of contemplating and appreciating the art that they have produced. I defy anyone to walk quietly down the main corridor, attend to each piece, and not be moved and shaped by the experience.”