History of Art

History of Art is available in the Sixth Form, and follows the Pearson A Level course.

Pupils learn about human history and the artistic expression of civilisations through the study of painting, sculpture and architecture. They look at the Renaissance in Italy and Modernism in Europe, as well as exploring thematic links such as nature and identity. Object-based education is an essential element of the course, so Sixth Form art historians travel to exhibitions and museums regularly, as well as abroad to both Paris and Florence to study works in situ.

Beyond the Classroom

The Minerva Society organises trips and talks as an integral part of the A Level course, as well as to extend the pupils’ appreciation of art more broadly. Recent speakers have included Simon O’Meara from SOAS and Nick Ross, Director of Art History Abroad. The senior girls also run ArtSpark, a Junior Minerva Society designed to give younger girls some experience of the subject prior to A Level.

As well as the two overseas residential trips to cities such as Paris and Florence, the Department runs regular trips to London museums and galleries. Girls have also enjoyed private candle-lit tours of St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle and Sandham Chapel.

Parents’ Trips

Every year, the Department organises and leads a guided day trip to a London art collection for parents, and a guided weekend trip to a European city. In recent years we have visited the National Gallery, Tate Britain, the Foundling Museum, Dulwich Picture Gallery, and the V&A. Weekend trips have visited Amsterdam, Lisbon, Rome, Florence, Palermo, Madrid, Tuscany and Veneto. As well as being great fun, these trips have also raised money for charities such as CAFOD, the Coram Foundation and the Westminster Diocese Lourdes Fund.

SPoKE: The national art history documentary film-making competition

SPoKE is a national art history film-making competition run by the History of Art Department at St Mary’s, in conjunction with Art History Abroad and The Horse Boy Foundation. It is open to all UK pupils in Years 11, 12 and 13. Entrants are required to create a documentary film lasting between 5 and 7 minutes that presents the results of their academic research into a work of their choice. Its purpose is to challenge pupils to link the visual and verbal in an imaginative and creative manner. The competition is judged externally by people from the art and film world.

For information about the 2022 competition, please click here

The Horseboy Foundation Prize

In addition to the main SPoKE prize, the Horseboy Foundation has offered a special prize worth £200 for the film submitted to this year’s SPoKE competition which most thoughtfully reflects either on an artist with special needs or an artwork that is concerned with an issue directly related to special needs. The award of this prize will be judged by the panel.

The Horseboy Foundation was created by one of SPoKE’s judges, Rupert Isaacson, as a charity devoted to providing alternative and kinetic education to special needs and autistic as well as neuro-typical students. Its methods are used in centres across the US and Europe.

It is possible that the winner of this prize could also be shortlisted for the other prizes and places. To be eligible for the Horseboy Foundation prize, please complete the declaration form by clicking on the link below, and send it, along with your SPoKE application form, to spoke@st-marys-ascot.co.uk

Horseboy Prize Declaration Form