Bedales artwork exhibited at the Southbank Undercroft

By Daniel Preece, Head of Art

Last year the architects Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, who designed the Art & Design building and Olivier Theatre, approached Bedales’ Art Department to create a piece for a temporary project space at the Southbank Undercroft – a space that the architects are renovating to transform into an educational space.

As the 6.1 art project for the autumn term had been based around the urban environment, it seemed a good opportunity to explore the processes and ideas that had been introduced to the students and to make a response to the architecture of the buildings Feilden Clegg Bradley had designed for the school.

This involved drawing from the architecture, creating collages in pairs from these and personal photographs taken. These collages were then combined and used to create a mural that spanned 122cm x 366cm. A revolving team of students worked on the painting for over a week and the panels were then installed in the space at the Undercroft on 4 December.

The finished work was shown alongside work from students of Manchester School of Art, Chelsea School of Art, The Red House, Plymouth School of the Creative Arts and Plymouth College of Art. It provided a backdrop for the day conference to discuss the wider issues of the role of architectural space and curriculum in art education in schools and colleges.

Members of the panel included Peter Clegg (Feilden Clegg Bradley); Patrick Brill OBE RA (Bob and Roberta Smith); Clare Lilley (Yorkshire Sculpture Park); Andrew Brewerton (Plymouth School of the Creative Arts); and Samantha Cairns (Creative Learning Alliance).

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Bill Pullen exhibition and artist’s talk

By Millie Page, 6.2

Painting with eggs may seem unorthodox at first, but it is actually a sacred art practiced by icon painters for centuries in Europe, Asia and Africa. Last Wednesday, Bedales’ Art Department was fortunate enough to host William Pullen who demonstrated this extremely niche and traditional medium to a small group of onlookers.

Firstly, he took us through the act of how to pick up a new material. When a different medium is used the mind-set changes, which Pullen explains, is important, because as artists we must “accept and embrace change of all aspects”.

The artist himself often feels the need to ‘swap between’ different methods to avoid the artist equivalent of writer’s block, and has created everything from work in watercolour to sketches in silverpoint. On the latter art, there is no going first time the pure silver tool touches the paper, especially imbibed with chemicals to ensure a permanent mark. This creates beauty in that it is possible to see the sketcher’s first vision of the subject as they put point to paper superimposed with the finishing finite detail.

This is the polar opposite to watercolour, which are executed within minutes, and being able to switch from one of the other is a wonderful and liberating thing.

Then it came to the tempera.

This is where the sense of time held tradition is the most obvious, among powdered, occasionally toxic pigment pots and jars of rabbit skin glue, the artist opened a box of eggs (bought in a rush from Bedales Outdoor Work) and began to show us a process left almost untouched for hundreds of years.

The talk was a mix of technique and art history as well as personal experience and approach. Tempera is a troublesome and time consuming painting method, of which little was known until the 1950s when societies of curious artists developed recipes through experiment and pouring over Cenini’s original tempera handbook from the 1500s.

Gradually a small niche group of contemporary artists began to use the forgotten medium once again. As someone who is interested in using the material myself, the talk was informative for many reasons. For one, I had seriously underestimated the time it takes to paint even one painting using egg yolk emulsion as a binder. To paint something detailed it would take me weeks, or months of dedicated time!

This is possibly the reason that it has been used in past religious art, such lengthy amounts of time (not to mention the costs of the pigments) and attention to detail could be consecrated only for something believed to be truly sacred.

This is where Bill breaks the cycle. His content is virgin of the familiar coy Madonna and her child, and is free from the gold leaf and sense of grandiosity. The fruits of his labour are highly detailed, hyperrealist still lives and luminous landscapes, with the seemingly glowing quality of the tempera working to his advantage. Instead of painting massive spiritual portrait, the artist chooses instead to accurately accentuate the natural dreamlike atmosphere that lives within a landscape.

A small painting in the current exhibition is proof of this. This is another point: the constraints of tempera do not force you to follow the majority of tempera art and painting inherently religious or detailed work.

You can choose to paint in whatever way you want as long as you feel the material is a guide to the quality you want in the final product.

Indeed, the chicken did probably not expect its egg to be part of a masterpiece of cross-hatched lines of warm and cool colours, so why should the artist feel anymore obliged to paint what the observer expects. Art is unpredictable and should be a breeding ground for new ideas, for which old materials could be used.

Overall, the quasi-performance was both inspiring and intriguing, showing how a paint can behave in a completely different way to expecting, with colours becoming brighter when the opposite tone is used as an undercoat. It was also a very intimate thing; painting in tempera is a process of pure creativity from the moment the egg is hatched to the last brush stroke, and it is a blessing that art made in this way can be admired for a thousand years.

Artwork from Conran, Emin and Yeo to be auctioned for new school building and scholarships

bedales painting (Large)

Exclusive works from some of the most famous names in the world of art and entertainment are to be sold by revolutionary online auction house Paddle8 to raise money for one of England’s most prestigious schools.

Bedales School in Hampshire, whose alumni include Daniel Day-Lewis, Minnie Driver, Kirstie Allsop, Lily Allen, David Linley and Cara and Poppy Delevingne, are looking for funding to build a new Art Studio and Design Workshop and for a full arts bursary scheme for talented sixth form students, who will join 140 students already benefitting from bursaries and scholarships at the school.

The school has partnered with Paddle8.com, which is backed by Damien Hirst, to auction paintings, drawings, sculptures, photography and jewellery donated by many Old Bedalians and parents.

When the auction opens on 11 November 2014, people will be able to purchase works by dozens of eminent artists including, the jewellery designer Solange Azagury Partridge, Helaine Blumenfeld, Sir Terence Conran, Tracey Emin, Barry Flanagan, Stefan Hirsig, Nick Knight, Jonathan Yeo as well as works by former Bedales pupils, including sculptors, Dido Crosby and James Napier, interdisciplinary artist  Graeme Messer, graphic artist Miraphora Mina, photographer Bethany Murray, designer Steuart Padwick and painters Sarah Armstrong-Jones, Arabella Dorman, Luey Graves, Ivon Hitchens, Rupert Muldoon, Nina Murdoch and Sarah Raphael.

Remy Blumenfeld, the television producer and former Bedales pupil who came up with the idea of the auction says: “There are very few schools that give space to the arts in the way that Bedales does.

“This is a chance for people everywhere to snap up outstanding original artwork and fund scholarships for the artists of tomorrow.”

Bedales School is aiming to raise £3.5m for the new Art Studio and Design Workshop that will replace buildings that have done sterling service but after 40 years are coming to the end of their life and are struggling to accommodate all the students wishing to take these creative subjects. The bursaries will give talented students, whose family circumstances mean that a Bedales education would normally be out of reach, a transformational opportunity to study the arts at the school’s sixth form,

Keith Budge, Headmaster, said: “We are grateful that so many of our former students and others from the art world have donated these fantastic pieces of art for such an inspirational project. The combination of the new building and our first class Art and Design teaching will help us provide more future leaders for the creative industries which are so important for the UK economy.”

In America, Paddle8, started in 2011 by a group of friends including British-born auctioneer Alexander Gilkes, has had auctions of museum-quality contemporary art, fine jewellery and design objects, all vetted by specialists in their field.

Individual Paddle8 investors include Alexander von Furstenberg, White Cube gallerist Jay Jopling and curator Hikari Yokoyama.

“We are honoured to partner with Bedales to bring this extraordinary art work to Paddle8’s global collector community, and help to contribute to the funding of a new arts centre,” Alexander Gilkes, president and co-founder, Paddle8.

“Paddle8 is committed to supporting a lifelong relationship with the arts, which so often begins with early education.”

The auction opens at http://paddle8.com/auctions/bedales  at 10am GMT on 11 November, and will close at 10pm GMT on 25 November.

More auction highlights include works by Slim Aarons, Charming Baker,Erwin Blumenfeld, Alexander Creswell, Stanley Chow, Lydia Corbett, Shepard Fairey,Patricia Field, Murray Garrett, Derek Hudson, Alison Jackson, Chris Levine, Bruce McLean, Donna McLean, Jacqueline Mina, Michael Minas and Frank Worth.


Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.