Barfield's Artist in Residence - Mr Ryland
Q & A with our very own artist in residence, who tells us how he uses his professional expertise to help Barfield's budding artists.
What does your own artistic practice look like?
My own work is primarily abstract and semi abstract painting but I like to mix it up with some fine detailed drawing. Most of the work is based around an area of Heathland used by the military that is close to our house, so I spend lots of time outdoors with a sketchbook and camera. My work has been exhibited both in the UK and internationally, and I have worked on numerous commissions for both corporate and private clients. I also run workshops in local schools, and my Barfield journey began when I was invited to be the guest artist during Arts Week 2020, making books with the senior pupils on the theme of the Jabberwocky.
What does being Barfield's Artist in Residence actually mean?
As Artist in Residence I am raising the profile of the Art department throughout the school in a number of ways; getting more pupils' artwork up on the walls, helping a little with the launch of the new logo and working as part of a team with Mrs Lester to help deliver an enriched curriculum across all year groups. As lead artist for The Big Draw I was able to work both with children from the school and the local community in a number of events in Farnham. It also means getting asked to work on projects that are far removed from my own practice, meaning I am regularly challenged with creative problem solving.
How do you work within the art department?
I teach from Yr3 down to reception and also run a junior art club which currently focuses on sculpture. Myself and Mrs Lester have different art appreciations which bring different perspectives when teaching the children. It is lovely to have a designated art room where we are happy to get out different resources, make some mess, try something new and express our creativity. For most lessons I aim to start with teaching a new technique or using a different media, then will take a step back and allow the children to experiment, make their own mistakes and ultimately feel empowered by their results. It is very often all about the process, and less about the finished piece.
How does being a professional artist within the school inspire our pupils?
Being personally involved within the contemporary art scene gives me an insight into other artists that I can share with the children, alongside my own experimental practice, revealing my techniques of creating art. I hope to foster this positive creativity with the children, particularly those pupils that would normally lack confidence in Art. Having great artwork exhibited throughout the school definitely inspires me, and the children love seeing their work up too.
What's been your favourite project you've worked on with the children?
I’ve only been at Barfield for a short time but already I have loads of projects I could choose! From the tiny art galleries the children spent so much time on in Sculpture Club, to working with the whole school to create the giant owl logo on the cricket pitch. My favourite though has to be the Year 3 bird project. We made bird sculptures that can still be seen around the school along with a large artwork that the children decided should be worked on collaboratively. They then spent quite a few weeks getting the whole thing to work as one piece, and I am now looking for a permanent home for the finished artwork. The way they worked together was really lovely to watch and be a part of.
Any exciting projects to come in the school?
The new development has thrown up a number of potential creative opportunities and I am currently in discussions about a number of major projects that could be seen over the next couple of years. I am so thrilled to be able to play a part in such an exciting chapter in Barfield’s history and can’t wait to share the finished projects with everyone.
Is there one part of your career that you're most proud of and why?
When I left university I had a number of different jobs to subsidise my art income, so the best moment in my career has to be when I was able to leave work and become a full time artist. It hasn’t always been easy, but I am incredibly proud of the fact that I’ve been able to continue my career whilst helping to raise a family, all clearly down to the unwavering support of a certain Mrs Ryland!