What goes on at School of Painting’s Porthmeor Young Artists Programme?

Check out how St Ives School of Painting is reigniting a passion for art in young people.

What goes on at School of Painting’s Porthmeor Young Artists Programme?

Could you first introduce yourself for the reader?

Hi! I am Cat Lee and I manage the Young Artists Programme at St Ives School of Painting in Cornwall.

What happens at the organisation?

St Ives School of Painting is located in the historic Porthmeor Studios, on the beach overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Our team of professional artists teach courses and workshops for people of all ages from 7 and up. We teach all kinds of art forms and often use our spectacular natural surroundings to inspire our students.

What do you offer to young people?

We have two open access groups for young people, running on fortnightly Sundays.

Firstly, `The Porthmeor Young Artists’ Mini Foundation is series of workshops for teens aged 13-18 which runs from 1-4pm. Designed to help young people discover what makes them tick as an artist, the workshops cover topics that are often not available at school, such as figure drawing, fashion and print making. Led by professional artists, they expand young people’s creative horizons, giving them the chance to create art in a working art studio with exceptional materials and tuition. Students can drop in for individual sessions or enrol for the whole term.

Our Kids Art Club for 7-12 year olds runs from 10am-12pm. This is an art club like no other, where children get to work on easels and use the same high-quality materials as those on our adult courses. They are taught by experienced artist tutors and start to take their first steps as young artists. A brilliant introduction to the world of making art!

We also run an inclusion project called Culture Camp (by referral only), designed to reach the most vulnerable teenagers in Cornwall.

What activities are most popular for young people and why? 

We have just finished a brilliant year for the Porthmeor Young Artists’ project, with more young people than ever joining the workshops. Working with different tutors and styles was so enriching for the young artists and that’s where I got the idea for the Mini Foundation. 

Young people are getting fewer opportunities to engage with different art forms at school, so it’s no wonder that numbers are falling for art GCSE and A-level. The Mini Foundation gives teens the chance to find out what inspires them, with access to 6 art forms: printmaking, fashion, 3D, figure drawing, mixed media and painting, in the hope that they’ll have more options open to them when it comes to choosing courses and careers. 

Have you seen any change in the industry over the last few years? Is it positive or negative?

We are seeing that young people are missing out on art! With art subjects now out of core curriculum in schools, so many young people don’t get a chance to be creative anymore. This coupled with the rise in mental health issues is no coincidence. We want to give some time and space to young people so they can channel creativity back into their lives.

Do you run Arts Award or offer a Trinity College qualification?  If so, what do you offer and how can young people get involved?

Over the last two years, 57 students have received an Arts Award through St Ives School of Painting. This year the Bronze Accreditation is offered to the 23 young people taking our inclusion project, Culture Camp.

Young people doing Arts Award are welcome to join our Young Artists Programme to benefit from the advice of our expert artist tutors and fantastic studio spaces. School groups can also request bespoke workshops, tailored to the part of Arts Award they are completing.

Do you publish any online resources that young people doing Arts Award or Trinity College qualifications could use?

Not at the moment! But keep your eyes peeled for our new website, launching soon. 

Is there anything you particularly want to promote to young people at the moment?

Yes – the Mini Art Foundation for 13-18s starts on the 6th October with figure drawing, come and join in! https://schoolofpainting.co.uk/porthmeor-young-artists-3/

Where can people find out more about the work you do?

We love Instagram, and post pictures of lovely work made by young artists in our studios. Get a glimpse of what happens here by following us: https://www.instagram.com/porthmeor_youngartists/

Check out all our projects with young people here https://schoolofpainting.co.uk/young-people/

For the Mini Art Foundation, go to https://schoolofpainting.co.uk/porthmeor-young-artists-3/

For Kids Art Club, go to https://schoolofpainting.co.uk/young-people/sunday-art-club/

Header Image Credit: Richard Squires


Sienna James

Sienna James Voice Team

Formerly Assistant Editor, Sienna now studies History of Art at the University of Cambridge and loves to write about the intersection of politics, history and visual art. Sienna is author of the Creative Education and Instaviews series.

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