The Heatherley School of Fine Art: Art For Art’s Sake

The Heatherley School of Fine Art: Art For Art’s Sake

Focusing on the disciplines of portraiture, figurative painting, printmaking and sculpture, the Heatherley School of Fine Art has a proud heritage as a teaching institution

‘At Heatherley’s, we believe it’s essential to learn core drawing and painting skills. That’s the absolute key to our teaching philosophy. Also, we have a strong figurative emphasis; in our experience, observing and capturing the human form is an excellent method of acquiring those classical techniques.’

Veronica Ricks, the charming Principal of The Heatherley School of Fine Art, is describing the ethos that has always distinguished London’s oldest independent art college from its peers. ‘All our staff are practising artists – that’s important – and they are able to pass on so much knowledge,’ she continues. ‘Of course, once students have mastered those basic skills, they can develop creatively in any artistic direction, whether that’s figurative, conceptual or abstract.’

Heatherley’s traces its origins to the Government School of Design, which was founded in 1837 and based at Somerset House. This was the time of the Industrial Revolution and the School’s chief purpose was to train designers who could create new products for the burgeoning manufacturing trades.

Inevitably, such a design focus didn’t suit those students committed to a career in Fine Art. ‘They wanted to learn to draw and paint,’ explains Veronica. ‘After many complaints about the teaching, the upshot was that a splinter group walked out and, in 1845, set up a rival institution that would become Heatherley’s (Thomas Heatherley was the second Principal in 1860 and ran the School for 27 years). Later, the Government School was re-named the Royal College of Art, so we actually have a common ancestor with the RCA.’

Over the years Heatherley’s has led a peripatetic existence, but it is now firmly established in Lots Road. Former pupils include Rossetti, Millais, Sickert, Evelyn Waugh and Henry Moore and local resident Quentin Crisp was a life model. Today, students can pursue full-time two-year diplomas in Portraiture, Sculpture, Painting and Printmaking, a Continuing Studies/Portfolio Preparation course for those contemplating or returning to further study and an extensive range of non-selective part-time day, evening and holiday classes.

Veronica has been teaching at Heatherley’s for 25 years – she specialises in stone and wood carving – and has been Principal since 2013. ‘We’ve always been avant-garde,’ she smiles. ‘From the beginning, women were “allowed” to study life drawing alongside men. That was unique in 1845. Also, we pioneered theOpen Studio in Britain. That’s based on the French atelier system in which students of all sta ndards share studio space and have access to a live model and tuition. There’s total flexibility when it comes to attendance; a student buys 10 sessions and can just wake up and think, I’ll go in today. There will always be a model and tutor on-hand – even if only one person turns up, the class goes ahead.’

Heatherley’s has eight fully equipped studios and is currently raising funds to build a new one on the roof. The demand for extra space reflects the popularity of the courses and high quality of teaching. ’We take students aged 18 and up – I have a 93 year-old in my carving class – and the School has a lovely family feel,’ says Veronica.

‘Whatever a student’s level of previous experience, whether they are complete beginners seeking to explore their artistic potential or artists who want to build on existing skills, they will find a warm welcome and the best tuition at Heatherley’s.’

The Heatherley School of Fine Art
75 Lots Road,
Chelsea, London SW10 0RN
+442073514190
info@heatherleys.org
http://www.heatherleys.org
The Heatherley School of Fine Art

The Heatherley School of Fine Art

The Heatherley School of Fine Art
The Heatherley School of Fine Art
The Heatherley School of Fine Art

The Heatherley School of Fine Art

The Heatherley School of Fine Art
The Heatherley School of Fine Art
75 Lots Road,
Chelsea, London SW10 0RN
+442073514190
info@heatherleys.org
http://www.heatherleys.org

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