Etching her way to the top

A Bromley High School art student has won the gold award in the John Downton Awards for an installation inspired by trees

Beatrice Forward from the lower sixth at Bromley High School has won the gold award in the 11-16 category in the John Downton Awards – a competition attracting more than 300 entries selected from 36 schools in Kent. The presentations were made by Charles Williams, artist and fine art lecturer at Canterbury Christchurch.

The John Downton Award for Young Artists is an annual exhibition at County Gallery, Maidstone, which encourages and celebrates the creativity of Kent’s young artists. Only selected works are exhibited and put forward for the award. It is open to students aged 11-18 from schools and colleges across Kent. Bromley High School is invited to submit work every year. The award is hosted by Kent County Council on behalf of the John Downton Trust and the exhibition commemorates the life and work of John Downton, the celebrated Kent artist, poet and philosopher.

The work of five Bromley High pupils – Beatrice Forward, Anna Gleis, Eva Jensen, Tara Jennett and Annie Penfold – was selected for exhibition and the work of Beatrice and Anna will be also exhibited at Turner Contemporary in Margate until 4 January 2015, before moving to Sevenoaks until early February.

Beatrice won the gold award in the 11-16 category for an abstract etching installation. “My work was based on the theme of ‘Order and Disorder’,” she says. “I developed my work by looking at trees and the way they naturally form. My aim in the work was trying to make the piece abstract, but so that you can also see it as a whole. When looking at the individual plates, it seems abstract and not recognizable; however, when you look at the whole piece of work together, you can clearly see the picture I based it on. I was inspired by the environment and the way things naturally form within it.”

The school’s head of art and design, Rebecca Shepley, says: “I was delighted for Beatrice. Over the years I have seen her develop into a fine young artist. There is integrity to her work; she is skilled and thoughtful. She always seeks out new ways of working in order to inform her practise further. Not only is she committed to developing her own skills and ideas through a range of media, she also runs two art clubs for younger pupils, sharing her excitement for the subject.”

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