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“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.

Back on top! Stapylton regain their title as QE’s leading House after a year of competition

Stapylton House are the winners of the 2017/18 House Cup – reclaiming the coveted trophy from last year’s champions, Underne.

Stapylton’s victory means this House has now won the trophy – formally the Eric Shearly Memorial Cup – for three of the last four years.

The triumph was announced at the end-of-year House assembly, where the cup was presented to House Captain Oliver Than-Lu and his Deputy, Omar Taymani, both from Year 12 (pictured above).

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “My congratulations go to all Stapylton boys: this victory reflects their consistency of achievement in extra-curricular enrichment activities across the academic year, with the older boys’ efforts being boosted by a particularly strong Year 7 cohort. I trust that boys in other Houses will be inspired to redouble their efforts next year to challenge Stapylton for the crown.”

The assembly celebrated outstanding performances over a wide range of fields, including the performing arts, sport and charity work.

For this year’s House Drama competition, participants were challenged to produce original plays on the theme of a dystopian future: Leicester won the competition for the third consecutive year.

The House Music competition was won by Pearce.

In chess, the winners of various competitions were honoured, as were the boys chosen to receive junior, intermediate and senior colours.

Similarly, the assembly highlighted the names of boys who had won colours for music and sports.

There was a review of performances in sport throughout the year, including cricket, rugby, water polo, swimming and athletics. One innovation was the announcement of ‘teams of the year’ for cricket and rugby, which included leading performers from all year groups.

House charity fund-raising events during the year were celebrated, together with the work done to support the Sri Sathya Sai English Medium School in Kerala, India, with which QE has enjoyed a longstanding partnership.

Participation in The Duke of Edinburgh Award at QE remains strong: 100 boys from Year 10 enrolled for the bronze award in October and are due to complete their Qualifying Expedition in August, it was announced, while 34 Year 11 pupils signed up for the silver award and 18 Year 12 boys for the gold.

The assembly also recounted details of:

  • The various challenges run on a specially arranged House Afternoon
  • The QIQE quiz, which was by Stapylton
  • A number of House competitions run by the academic departments: these included, for example, a Languages competition to design a poster about a famous and influential linguist, which was won by Year 8 Stapylton pupil Jashwanth Parimi, and a photography competition for Years 7–9 run by the Geography department.
QE artist’s work selected for Royal Academy’s prestigious A-level exhibition

Sixth-former Darsh Thacker’s ambitious artwork has been chosen for the Royal Academy A-level Summer Exhibition Online 2018. He beat off competition from some 2,000 entries to be included among the exhibitors.

Darsh’s project, measuring 2.56 x 2m, was displayed recently at the School along with work by his fellow QE Year 13 Fine Art A-level students. For these final pieces of work, many of the boys drew inspiration from research into their own planned career paths.

Darsh is going on to study Dentistry and his project explores the division between the personal and the clinical spheres. He employed a range of contrasting materials, including plaster of Paris casts, string, nails and even chewing gum.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “I am delighted at this very exciting news and I congratulate Darsh on his success. I found this piece of work very impressive when I visited the class recently at the end of their course.”

“In fact, I was impressed generally with what the boys had achieved: they had used the freedom they had to experiment with materials and ideas to such good effect. Clearly, they had taken the opportunity to engage in the type of detailed and meticulous research, allied to personal expression, that we seek to instil in our boys.”

Head of Art Stephen Buckeridge said: “This year’s leavers were encouraged to find a subject that was deeply personal to them and that would sustain ideas and outcomes throughout the year. As starting a project is never easy, we encouraged the boys to record and explore ideas in the broadest sense – including note-making, research, photography, drawing and making. The breadth of investigation at the beginning was important; as the projects progressed, the ideas became more refined.”

The boys were required to show evidence of deeper thinking, and “encouraged to be ambitious with their final outcomes, which are supported by a written final statement which articulates ideas and makes connections, both historically and contextually,” Mr Buckeridge added.

An expert panel of judges selected Darsh’s work as one of only 43 winning entries from more than 2,000 submissions by over 1,400 young artists.

One of the judges, Royal Academician Mali Morris, said: “Our thanks to every student who entered – all contributed to the excitement of this project. We were amazed by the strength of the shortlisted works, by their energy, inventiveness and sense of exploration. Every kind of feeling was here, from tenderness to rage, solemnity to hilarity, in a wide range of materials and processes. Congratulations to all the students and their teachers, and cheers to the schools that believe that art is still a vital subject.”

In his explanation posted as part of the online exhibition, Darsh explained the thinking behind both his artwork and its unusual title, Savium: “I became interested in examining the link between the clinical and the personal using an unconventional material. The intimacy yet inaccessibility of the word Savium also alludes to my ulterior (and superior) interest in the dichotomy between the clinical and the personal. I became intrigued in how the personal space of the body might be examined in a forensic manner. In the end this strange display successfully evoked the fundamental tension at the heart of dentistry; that of intimacy and distance, the personal and the sterile.”

Among QE’s other Year 13 Fine Art students were:

• Anand Joshi, whose artwork on the Human Condition depicted a cell. He read and researched existentialism and the writings of Michel Foucault. The French philosopher and social theorist wrote extensively on the topics of power and knowledge.
• Milan Shah, who is going on to read Politics and whose work explored ideas relating to politics and news. He used collage and mixed-media to look at how we respond to information in the modern technological world.

Henry V: half-an-hour with energy and power

QE’s own ‘band of brothers’ – the School’s tightly knit group of senior actors – gave a powerful performance of Henry V at the 2017 Shakespeare Schools Festival.

A 23-strong cast, headed by Year 13’s Nicholas Pirabaharan in the title rôle, brought their abridged version of the history play to the ArtsDepot in North Finchley for the world’s largest youth drama festival.

Elaine White, who runs QE’s drama provision, said the ensemble had, as ever, coalesced well, with the older actors supporting the new Year 10 boys effectively as they all got to grips with Shakespeare’s account of events during the Hundred Years’ War before and after the 1415 Battle of Agincourt.

""“It can be difficult delivering Shakespearean language for the first time, but our boys learn quickly and always end that journey with a thorough understanding of their part,” said Mrs White. “Their storytelling became stronger and, by the big day the final piece was well-defined, with some solid performances.

""“The battle scene became one of their favourite scenes as it embodied powerful physicality and raw energy – quite daunting, especially when rehearsing in a small space!”

Mrs White added: “The SSF Venue Director, Jordana Golbourn, praised their careful choreography and the power of their performance, congratulating Year 13 pupil Mark Thomas as student Director.”

""Keenan Dieobi played the French king, while his fellow Year 13 pupils, Al-Fayad Qayyum and Mohit Miyanger, took the rôles of the Duke of Exeter and Fluellen respectively. Among the backstage support were 2016 leavers Miles Huglin, Shiras Patel and Alex Wingrave.

The audience included the Headmaster, Neil Enright, and a number of other staff.

Earlier this term, festival experts led a workshop for QE’s cast and crew to help them with their preparation.