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Creativity in a time of crisis: School-wide art competition winners announced

QE’s Lockdown Art Competition attracted more than 100 entries from pupils of all ages, with Year 7 boy Joshua Wilkinson’s self-portrait taking first prize.

The entries came in a wide range of media, from oil paint to digitally manipulated images, and the boys’ artworks featured a similarly broad choice of subjects, from still lives to dreamscapes.

In addition to the current online exhibition on the School’s eQE platform, QE will be looking at ways of displaying the winning artworks around the School. They will also be reproduced in the pupil-produced magazine, The Arabella.

Head of Art Stephen Buckeridge said: “We were really impressed, both with the scale of the response and with the quality of the entries, which included a great deal of diverse, creative and thoughtful work.”

The competition categories included: animal; portrait/figure; landscape/cityscape/seascape; still life/botanical; abstract/non-representational and scenes of everyday life.

Boys were asked to create two-dimensional artworks in any medium and submit an image electronically. The entries featured pencil, watercolour, oil paint, felt-tip, fine liners, pastel and collage, as well as photography and digitally manipulated images.

Joshua’s self-portrait [pictured top, with the competition poster] was the first he had done using oil paints and was based on a photo taken on a smartphone. It took him seven hours over the course of three weeks. “I tried to capture likeness, while also using rough paint strokes and layering to make the painting look less realistic. For the background, I took inspiration from Vincent van Gogh, using his signature style.”

Art teacher Jeanne Nicodemus praised the “presence and concentration” shown by Joshua in and through his artwork. “I also enjoyed the texture and handling of the painting. I could see his enjoyment of the material, with delicate gradient details to the expressive swirls in the background.”

The runners-up were Kovid Gothi, of Year 8, and Kai Pentecost, of Year 12, whose entries are shown right above and left respectively.

Kovid explained what he had set out to achieve: ““I wanted to capture the bright tones of the leaf and metallic lid against the smooth glass.”

Ms Nicodemus said: “Kovid’s classical still life with its observed detail…enables you to appreciate the changes in light and shadow with his impressive handling of coloured pencil. To me, the white background conveys a purity and lightness with a silent stillness and focused contemplation.”

Kai produced his artwork – oil pastel on a wooden board – as part of his work for the Royal Academy’s attRAct scheme, which is a year-long programme of practical workshops, tutorials, studio visits and exhibition tours. Every year, two QE Year 12 Art students apply for a place, and Kai was successful this year.

Kai explained that the artwork reflects his dreams, which are frequently dystopian in nature and in which, since “the isolation of lockdown”, he has felt “the serenity of being alone but the frustration of wanting to get out”.

“Kai’s imaginative interior, exterior composition to me is full of feeling in a surreal, dream-like, emotive composition,” said Ms Nicodemus.

The category winners (with some comments from Ms Nicodemus) were:

  • Portrait/figure – Bhav Rambhiya, of Year 12, for his pencil drawing entitled INSPIRATION
  • Land/city/seascape – Anik Singh, of Year 7, for a watercolour, Staring into space: “I can almost feel the rain on my face”
  • Still life/botanical – Artem Apostoli, of Year 9, for an untitled black & white photograph
  • Natural Form – Kailun Zhou, of Year 8, whose artwork entitled Glamour World was created using colouring pencils, pencil and fine liners: “almost a whole story compacted into a final image”
  • Abstract/non-representational – Vignesh Rajiv, of Year 9, for a pencil drawing, Geometric symmetry: “like a kaleidoscope of patterns, textures and three-dimensional shapes”
  • Everyday life – Venthan Kumanan, of Year 9, for his pencil drawing entitled Living Life: “an impressive use of manga-style drawing, conveying a momentary sense of helpless frustration, isolation and rage”.
‘Collaborative independence and isolated community’: competition winners announced from QE in lockdown

A wealth of creative talent is showcased in this month’s special competition edition of The Arabella – a magazine produced by QE boys featuring the work of the pupils.

Under the theme, Brave New World, the Art and English departments launched Art and poetry competitions which attracted a high level and standard of entry, many of which are celebrated in the special release.

Head of English Robert Hyland said: “As a School community, we are getting used to a ‘new normal’, containing paradoxes of collaborative independence and isolated community, and where we are increasingly working in a ‘brave new world’.

“Boys from all year groups were invited to submit original and creative poems and art works exploring this theme – entries could be witty and humorous, contemplative and reflective, or anything in between, as long as they engaged with the theme.

“We were overwhelmed with the response – and thrilled to see such creativity and artistic flair from our boys. We are proud to see that this extraordinary new chapter is bringing out the best in our boys.”

For the Art competition, Head of Department Stephen Buckeridge first showed the boys some book illustrations as examples.

He ranked their entries on whether the image produced captured the spirit of the Brave New World title and on how it might work as a book jacket design. There were more than 60 entries, covering all the year groups.

“I have chosen eight that I felt illustrated the theme best – reflecting a kind of dystopian vision,” said Mr Buckeridge.

The overall winners​ of the Art competition were Haipei Jiang, of Year 10, whose work is pictured top. Next was Alex Aliev, of Year 12, followed by Kovid Gothi, of Year 8, in third place.

“I felt Haipei’s drawing captured the essence of 1950-60s book jacket design and it reminded me of nostalgic times spent in second-hand bookstores as a teenager,” said Mr Buckeridge.

“Alex’s was a strong, imaginative drawing, suggestive of Amazing Stories magazines from the 1950s.

“And Kovid’s collage captured the spirit of our current times.”

In addition to the three main winners, five boys’ contributions were highly commended:

Anik Singh, Year 7
Manthan Thakkar, Year 8
Anubhav Rathore, Year 10
Abhiraj Singh, Year 10
Pierre Mougin, Year 12

Overall winner Haipei said: “It feels incredible to have won an art competition with so many great entries.​ There is much anxiety worldwide regarding the recent outbreak of COVID-19. However, if we look through another’s eyes, we can see the essence of hope for the future.” ​

Alex, who was placed second, added: “I wanted to combine the past, present and future within one drawing. I chose to use a traditional, well-known, scene of a cowboy [pictured above right] overlooking a typical western setting of a desert, but replace it with a futuristic, almost dystopian, element with tall trees and an unknown distant city of skyscrapers. The large viruses that hang above the cowboy are obvious references to the current situation we live in.”

Kovid meanwhile was excited by the opportunity to participate: “Despite the fact that there are a lot of brave key workers risking their lives to keep our community and economy running, I was most inspired by the front-line NHS staff who, with limited PPE supply, kept on fighting against the coronavirus and were undeterred by the possibility of losing their own lives. This is my tribute to their bravery and dedication to put themselves in harm’s way to save the rest of the world; Brave New World indeed.” His collage is pictured above left.

There was also a high level of interest in the poetry competition. Mr Hyland chose a winner from each year group:

​Year 7 – Keon Robert
Year 8 – Rajanan Shanmugabalan
Year 9 – Akshaj Pawar
Year 10 – Nivain Goonasekera
Year 11 – Ethan Solanki
Year 12 – Tristan Lolay
Year 13 – Matt Salomone

Keon used the word ‘change’ as the basis for his poem. “I wanted my readers to think about what they can do to make an impact on the world. When I found out I was my year group winner I was shocked. I had been able to see some of the other poems through the School’s forums. I’m very proud of my achievement.”

The sensation of feeling trapped was the starting point for Rajanan’s entry, especially having to stay indoors along with finding the courage to get through. “I hope the people that read the poem take away the fact that they aren’t alone, although they may feel like it. We are feeling alone together! To conclude, my reaction to being a year group winner is – amazing! It means the world to me!”

Mr Hyland was impressed to see such a diverse range of approaches to the theme. “They ranged from the natural to the historical to the contemporary. The competition was particularly noteworthy for its technical skill in form and structure, and for the vividness of the imagery.”

The full range of poems can be seen in The Arabella, but two of the winning poems are reproduced below, with some explanatory notes from the authors:

Into a Butterfly
By Akshaj Pawar

How does it feel, the caterpillar? Half of its legs are gone.
It used to like to walk but now –
Now its wings must fly it on.
How does it feel, the caterpillar? Its teeth and jaws are dead.
It cannot crunch on the stalks and stems,
A change has changed its head.
How does it feel, the caterpillar? It can’t hide anymore.
How can it stay safe from the ants?
The ants would kill it for sure.
What can it do in this brave new world without teeth or stealth or legs?
It will drink, it will flee, it will fly.
It will play, it will laugh, it will cry.
In a brave new world, we cannot not know if it will survive.
But the once-caterpillar, it will try.
We all must try.

“This triumph is a great personal victory,” said Akshaj. “I’m honestly mainly glad people like it. While making it, I struggled with rhythm, although I suppose I managed to sort it out in the end. I wanted to make the change in the poem seem striking, and I realised the most striking change possible is being given an entirely different body. Hence the use of a caterpillar’s metamorphosis as a metaphor for a changing world. I realised that the caterpillar’s ability to so easily transition from one form to another and keep going was quite poetic. If you were to take a lesson from Into a Butterfly, it should probably be: don’t let change daunt you, and keep on moving forward.”

Brave New World
By Ethan Solanki

The champions of yore stood arrayed on the field,
And their arrows flew true but were blocked by the shields
And their foes would roar out and then level their spears
And those heroes together laid siege to their fears.
For the sound of the drums was the beat in their chests,
And after the clash each would count themselves blessed,
And the flames of the fallen continued to blaze
As they were embraced by Death’s cold, endless haze
For each soul lived with passion eternal and strong;
And their names in the annals of history belong,
And the deeds of these men changed the world’s warp and weft
And in a glorious state was this brave new world left.
The champions of now stand there tall but alone
As this new war is waged from the confines of home,
As tactics devolve into words on a screen
And the fears of the people are shown by their miens.
For the safety of all is being ripped apart,
As tension and peace conflict within the heart;
As love and wealth come to invisible blows,
As we see to ourselves all the danger we pose.
For whilst Death himself runs rampant on a wild spree
And the flames of the fallen are numbers to be seen,
A lone soul should simply this dark void embrace:
For only as one can we this brave new world face.

Ethan said: “From the way people were talking about the coronavirus, it was made out to be the second coming of the Black Death. So I thought it was important to consider the past and all of the things that occurred to bring us to where we are today. I drew inspiration largely from Lord Byron’s The Destruction of Sennacherib, which to date remains my favourite poem. I hope that people will take away not only the importance of the past, but also that in this time of crisis we don’t abandon one another, but remain in contact over social media, through text, or through Facetime. When I found out that I had won the competition in my year group, I was both surprised and honoured.”

The special edition of The Arabella can be read here.

The lights are off…and everyone’s home! But The Queens’ Library is rising to the challenge

Head of Library Services Surya Bowyer has been making sure that boys are aware of the wealth of resources that are available online – both for study and for leisure.

He is using the shutdown to develop the way the Library team uses technology. And, as a result, they are not only supporting the boys in the holidays and in their remote learning during term time, but also deriving benefits that will long outlast the current crisis.

“When it became clear that schools would be forced to close as a result of Covid-19, our first thought was: ‘What does a library do when its doors are locked and lights turned off?’” Mr Bowyer says.

In the first few days, a small number of boys whose parents were designated key workers used the library to continue their studies. Meanwhile, for boys at home, the Library team has shared audiobooks and e-book databases, and they are recommending a Book of the Week, which is made available to read free online. The first recommendation was Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.

“We have also released a list of activities of things you can do with the book you are reading, that go beyond simply reading… for example, designing a map of the book’s locations, or designing a new book cover.”

Mr Bowyer and Library Services Assistant Corinna Illingworth have also put together their own guide to digital galleries and museums that are available to browse online. “There’s a wealth of art and history out there on the internet: it’s our job, as librarians, to publicise and share these resources throughout the QE community.

“This is a key issue with the internet more widely – there is a lot of information, so much so that it’s often difficult to get a sense of what is worth your time. This is a key job of The Queen’s Library during these increasingly digital times,” said Mr Bowyer.

A number of activities and competitions have taken place to stretch the boys and encourage them to use their imagination and be creative. These included a ‘blackout’ poetry workshop, during which boys had to black out the majority of a piece of text, leaving only a handful of words to make a poem. Head of English, Robert Hyland, launched a Brave New World poetry competition, which was followed by an art competition on the same theme.

Just before the sudden start of the shutdown, the editorial team were able to put together the second edition of the Arabella – the pupils’ own magazine, open to contributors from Years 7-13. Included in this online edition, which may be viewed here on eQE by current QE families, are poetry, prose and art.

Editor-in-chief Josh Osman, of Year 13, said: “Sadly we were unable to put out a print edition. But the Arabella has been our way of uniting the School through creativity, taking in submissions from all year groups.”

Josh also heralded the success of the blackout poetry workshop: “It allowed people who would not otherwise have ventured into poetry to try their hand at something accessible yet deceptively complex.”

“For me, drawing is a reflective process…ambiguous, fragmented and surreal”

King’s College undergraduate Danny Martin has had his art exhibited in Cambridge for the first time – and now some of his drawings are on display at the Japanese embassy in London after being shortlisted in a manga-drawing competition.

Danny’s work was displayed in the Art rooms at King’s, overlooking the famous chapel, in an exhibition he entitled Full House.

Danny is in his third year at Cambridge, reading Architecture.

His comic strip, Balanced World, was shortlisted and then came eighth overall in Manga Jiman 2019. Manga Jiman is a long-running annual manga-drawing competition run by the Japanese embassy. (Manga are Japanese comics, sometimes called whimsical drawings, typically, but not exclusively in monochrome).

Balanced World is on display as part of an exhibition this month at the embassy on Piccadilly opposite Green Park, following a prizegiving ceremony last week, which Danny attended.

Danny describes it as “a unique take on the creation story where two God-like characters that represent nature’s opposites work together to create a world from scratch”.

In his notes for the exhibition at Cambridge, Danny wrote: “For me, drawing is a reflective process, much like writing a diary. Unlike a diary, however, the output here is far more ambiguous, fragmented and, quite frankly, surreal.

“Impenetrable plumes of visuals erupt out of a subconscious that simply can’t make up its mind.

“The pieces sweat out characters in an attempt to hide their true meanings and ink blotches desecrate and abolish any once-legible text.

“I present to you Full House, one man’s fantasia that, like real life, has not enough facts, too many villains and a ubiquitous sense of the unknowing.

“Let curiosity be your guide.”

Danny returned to Queen Elizabeth’s School last year to judge a Year 10 architectural modelling competition run by the Art department as part of QE’s Enrichment Week.

  • This story was updated on 21st February 2020 with fresh images and additional information about Balanced World. Click on the thumbnails below to view Balanced World.
Whys guy: how QE Art teacher Mr Buckeridge changed Jay Shetty’s life

Old Elizabethan and global internet celebrity Jay Shetty continues to make headlines as he pursues his quest to ‘make wisdom go viral’ – and one of his recent podcast shows he has not forgotten his QE roots.

Through his bi-weekly motivational podcast, On Purpose, which was ranked number 1 in the CNET media website’s recent list of the ten best health & fitness podcasts, Jay (OE 1999–2006) dispenses serious advice from doctors, successful business people and other guests.

Issued every Monday and Friday, the podcast is so popular that it has also become a magnet for celebrities, too: recent scoops included an interview last month with Khloé Kardashian in which she discussed her relationship with her ex-partner and father of her baby, Tristan Thompson.

Closer to home, Jay this month re-tweeted a recent episode in which he paid warm tribute to his QE Art teacher, Stephen Buckeridge, during an interview with American gym and fitness entrepreneur, Payal Kadakia.

In the course of a discussion about mentors, Jay said this about Mr Buckeridge, who is now QE’s Head of Art: “This man changed my life. First of all, I was a rebel at school. I was the worst kid from 11-18 – not grades-wise, in terms of just being a rebel, trouble-maker…I was suspended three times, asked to leave.

“Mr Buckeridge was one teacher who always stood by me, never judged me. The most important lesson he gave me was every time we did any art – whether it was collage, whether it was graphic, whether it was charcoal, fine art – whatever it was, no matter how good it looked, his question was always ‘Why did you do that?… Why did you put that colour next to that colour? Why did you put that brush stroke versus this one?’ He would always ask me ‘why, why, why, why, why?’

“…It took me years to recognise that he had coached me in always looking at the meaning and the ‘why’ – without me even knowing.”

On leaving QE, Jay went on to Cass Business School in London, from which he graduated with a first-class degree in Management Science. Then, however, his life took an unusual turn: he spent three years as a monk in India in the Hindu Vedic tradition, which accounts for his later sobriquet of the ‘urban monk’.

His career began to take off when he was spotted by Arianna Huffington and brought to New York, where he rapidly gained a following for his daily show, HuffPost Live #FollowTheReader.

Jay featured in the influential Forbes European 30 Under 30 in 2017 and his social media channels attract huge followings: some of his videos have now had over 1 billion views.

Artist’s commitment rewarded in international competition

Year 10 pupil Dylan Domb’s dedication to art and to the work of one of the greatest 20th-century British artists won him a prize in an international drawing competition.

After starting a sketch in class towards the end of last term, Dylan completed it at home and duly submitted it to the Henry Moore Drawing Competition run by the Henry Moore Foundation.

The drawing, a pencil sketch of Dylan’s own Moore-inspired sculpture produced at School, took third prize in the secondary-age category of the competition. At 14 (at the time of drawing), Dylan was younger than both the category winner and the runner-up.

His untitled artwork is on display until 1st November at the Visitor Centre at the Henry Moore Studio and Gardens in the Hertfordshire hamlet of Perry Green.

Art teacher Jillian McAteer said: “Dylan is an incredibly committed student whose attention to detail and refinement of work regularly sets him apart from his peers. He is also quite independent, pursuing ambitious personal projects and extending class work.”

In Year 8, Dylan was part of the annual QE visit to the Henry Moore Foundation. In that year, his class were set the task of producing their own sculptures that ‘responded’ to Moore’s famous large, biomorphic landscape sculptures.

Dylan then based his sketch – started for a drawing exercise set towards the end of Year 9 – on the sculpture he produced.

“Not all were able to finish this before School ended for the summer, but Dylan developed the drawing independently at home. It is a stunning photorealistic drawing; he achieved a very high standard,” said Mrs McAteer.

The drawing competition, which drew almost 500 entries, was organised as part of the Henry Moore Foundation’s 2019 season celebrating the drawing practice of the artist, who died in 1986. He was a prolific and talented draughtsman, producing nearly 7,500 drawings during his career.

Entries were required to reflect themes in Moore’s art: reclining figure; mother and child; natural forms, or life drawing. They had to be submitted on paper or card, with the majority of the work being drawn, not painted.

The judging panel was led by Foundation’s Head of Collections and Exhibitions, Sebastiano Barassi.

Dylan went to the exhibition opening and took photographs of his work on the wall.

Beach boys win architectural modelling competition

A contemporary take on a beach house took first prize in a Year 10 competition overseen by Cambridge Architecture student Danny Martin.

Old Elizabethan Danny, who has completed his second year at King’s College, helped out over the two days of the architectural modelling competition and judged the entries at the end of each day.

All 180 members of Year 10 were involved in the competition, which was held by the Art department as part of QE’s Enrichment Week.

Afterwards, Danny said: “The ingenuity and creativity from all groups was fantastic. I’m inspired and encouraged by the quality of all the outcomes over the two days.”

The boys were divided into teams of six and given the task of constructing 3D architectural models using only card, paper, tracing paper, pins and paper clips.

The competition rules stipulated that the constructions:

  • Were to be of a contemporary design, playing with the idea of abstract shapes, negative space, light and line
  • Should be structurally sound (free-standing)
  • Should be no bigger than 60 cm in height, depth or width
  • Could take the form of wearable architecture.

Each group was expected to work as a team and to appoint a designer and project manager, as well as assigning specific tasks, such as origami-making.

Pupils were encouraged to be innovative, creative and visionary, while also setting out the function or purpose of their model and the reason they had for creating it.

The entries created over the two days included models of museums, airports and mosques.

The overall winners came from Harrisons’ House. The team comprised: Vishruth Dhamodharan; Alan Gatehouse; Raheel Kapasi; Yuvraj Manral; Aiden Smith and Yuto Watanabe. They were commended for the design and construction of their model.

Head of Art Stephen Buckeridge said: “It conveyed the idea of a contemporary beach house and courtyard, utilising light and space in an innovative and creative way. The group worked exceptionally well as a team; they were calm and methodical, and had a clear vision for the outcome. The project management and construction displayed a range of skills, including paper-weaving, origami and nets constructed with mathematical precision.”

Stagecraft and witchcraft as boys get to grips with Macbeth

Year 9 pupils took a trip back in time to the dark days of Shakespeare’s Macbeth at a special Enrichment Day that offered them the chance to engage dramatically and creatively with the ‘Scottish play’.

Featuring a series of interactive workshops, the day brought to life Shakespeare’s brooding and exciting tragedy, which most of Year 9 had studied – from a purely textual point of view – earlier in the year.

Head of English Robert Hyland said: “Shakespeare was not written to be studied, but to be performed; therefore, an engagement with Macbeth would be incomplete without some understanding of the stagecraft and dramatic opportunities that this approach to the text provides, away from the minutiae of language analysis.”

Pupil Mahmudur Rahman enjoyed the day and said it helped him understand the play better: “The thing I like about drama is that you can play another person’s life – it’s a distraction from normal life and you can live in another person’s shoes. You can explore any dimension in history, going back centuries before, which I find fascinating.”

Mahmudur’s fellow Underne House member, Varun Maheswaran, said: “It was a fun day. When we played out the Macbeth scenes, it was enjoyable to explore the play in an interactive way.”

Organised by Mr Hyland, the all-day event took place in a classroom and the Main Hall. It was led by experienced drama professionals Gavin Malloy and Lauren Steadman, from RM Drama, QE’s external drama partner.

The workshops focused on:

  • Key characters – such as the relationship between Macbeth himself and Lady Macbeth
  • Key scenes – looking at the opening with the three witches
  • Key themes – including ambition, guilt, the supernatural and violence.

The techniques explored included the deployment of ‘freeze-frame’ tableaux, the use of dialogue and improvisation, and the development of soundscapes (where atmosphere is created by the use of collective sound).

With drama not being part of the normal classroom curriculum at QE, the day was especially significant for those Year 9 pupils who were not involved in the School Play, Lord of the Flies, at Easter nor in QE’s contribution to the Shakespeare Schools Festival in the autumn, Mr Hyland said. “While a good number of students have been involved in school productions, many other will not have had exposure to such an innovative approach to a Shakespearean text. It was really refreshing to watch boys perform so ably and creatively, and engage with Shakespeare in a completely different way. For many, this was an opportunity to demonstrate a set of talents that might have gone unnoticed in the classroom.

“The team from RM Drama did a fantastic job at getting our students active and involved – there was a real sense of energy and purpose as the day developed.”

Learning more from a master

Year 8 boys had the chance to see another side of the work of modernist artist Henry Moore on a trip to his former studio and gardens.

Not only did the Art trip give the pupils an opportunity to experience his spectacular outdoor sculptures in the beautiful grounds near Much Hadham, but they were also able to see the largest exhibition of his drawings in more than 40 years.

Art teacher Jillian McAteer said: “It was a unique opportunity for the boys not only to experience his ambitious sculptures, but also to closely examine the drawings that underpinned the practice of one of the most influential modernist British artists.”

Yorkshireman Henry Moore (1898–1986) settled in the Hertfordshire hamlet of Perry Green during the Second World War; it remained his home and workplace for the rest of his life. The Henry Moore Foundation Studios and Gardens showcase his sculptures in woodlands and gardens originally created there by Moore’s wife, Irina.

“The foundation displays a fantastic collection of his sculptural work. The students were taken on a tour of the grounds by informative guides who described the inspiration and construction behind these iconic pieces,” said Mrs McAteer.

She added that the boys had been learning in class about biomorphism – art with an organic appearance or form – through clay sculpture, ink and drawing. “The grand organic shapes in Moore’s work are a fantastic example of where this artistic exploration might lead.”

One of the Year 8 boys, Sai Sivakumar, said the visit had given him clear insight into Moore’s creative processes, including his “every thought, inspiration and action”. Sai added: “Some of the many things we learned at the foundation included how to use different materials in Art, such as plaster, how to draw inspiration from real life, and the importance of practice.”

The trip began with a tour of Moore’s larger sculptures, before the group ventured inside his numerous workshops to look at his smaller, finer work. Here, said Sai, they picked up tips for improving their own sculpting, such as incorporating the appearance of bones and using textures inspired by nature, such as bark.

Next, the boys visited the current exhibition, entitled Henry Moore Drawings: The Art of Seeing. “We could see his style and skill evolving over time as he learned more and more.” The exhibition runs until 27th October this year.

After lunch, the boys drew their own pieces, taking from everything they had learned there to create a Henry Moore-style drawing.

Constructive challenge: building a house of cards – or a stadium, hospital, safari lodge…

Equipped only with card and drinking straws, Year 10 boys had to be constructively creative during an architecture event held as part of QE’s Enrichment Week.

For the challenge run by the Art department, House teams were asked to make an architectural structure made up of modular forms, with a theme of Folded Architecture.

Two of 2017’s Year 13 leavers, Nabil Haque and Tochi Onuora, who are both studying Architecture at Cambridge, came back to help.

Towards the end of the day, the participants were instructed to consider what purpose or building form their structure could fulfil. (They had not been told they were making buildings earlier in the day, so that their thinking would not be constrained by notions of what they considered to be normal for buildings.)

With function therefore following form, the six-strong teams decided that what they had designed could be put to use for buildings as diverse as stadia, hospitals, safari lodges and residential accommodation, to name but a few.

The pieces were judged at the end of the event. The Stapylton House team – comprising Alex Aliev, Nikhil Gulshan, Rakul Maheswaran, Jack Runchman, Aqif Choudhury, Riaz Kalim and Jude Miranda – won overall. Their contribution was praised for the way that it essentially used the same hexagonal shape repeatedly to build up the structure and create something very stable, yet still architecturally interesting.

Head of Art Stephen Buckeridge reported that the two visiting Old Elizabethans were very complimentary about the boys’ innovation, lateral thinking and openness to exploring new ways of thinking. He added that the models looked very professional, considering the time spent and rudimentary nature of the materials used. In fact, so good were the models that a small exhibition was staged to give other staff a chance to see them.