Going, going, gone-not funding but pupils’ art

Photo: Rodney Lewis

A local school has raised over £8000 through an art auction, featuring the work of students overcoming social and behavioural difficulties.

Ian Mikardo High School, in William Guy Gardens sold twelve original pieces and thirty limited edition prints, produced by past and present pupils. The event, held last Tuesday, was conducted by Nick Martineau of Christie’s auction house, and attracted a full house of interested bidders.

Sponsored by Barclay Card, the proceeds will go to the school’s charity, with the artists also receiving a percentage.

The event has been in the planning for the almost five years, according to event organizer Deborah Larne. The art teacher said the event was a “stunning success”, with one piece by ex-pupil Lewis Moore, selling for £1500.

The high school usually has a student body of 40, made up of boys from 11-16 years of age. Enrolled pupils have severe and complex social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. Nine years ago Ofsted placed the school in special measures, but headmaster Claire Lillis has since transformed the school with their motto of ‘Come with a past, leave with a future’. The school has since had two ‘outstanding’ awards from the education regulators.

Ms. Larne said that she had long ago realized the talent in her classroom. “The work I see being produced is of a very high standard, but our boys don’t always have much self-belief. It was partly to fundraise for the school charity, and partly to inspire confidence in our boys.”

The pupils received 30 percent of sales from original pieces, as well as 10 percent from the sale of prints. Larne feels the addition of prints to the auction was important, as it “connects the art work with the idea of limited production” for the pupils. “A piece isn’t just made, sold, and gone, it shows them the larger possibilities, as well as teaching them practical skills like Photoshop.”

Ian Mikardo High receives funding from both the public and private sectors, but Ms. Larne was not in a position to say how the recently announced spending cuts would affect their work.

However, she did point out that the cuts were definitely affecting her pupils. “Our boys rely on the services that are in place, from support from social workers down to the free meals scheme. We can already see that these services are being affected.”

When asked if proceeds from the auction would be offsetting these cuts, she said the decision would lie with the school’s registered charity. “Each year the charity looks at where the greatest need is. We always try to structure our curriculum to meet the needs of our children.”

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