Art at St Mary’s is an area of excellence. We regularly achieve top levels of attainment and as a department work closely with other professionals and the NSEAD (National Society for Education in Art and Design). The girls' latest artworks are displayed around the school as part of our annual Founder’s Day Exhibition, with pieces gaining national recognition in Royal Academy Student Exhibitions, in addition to our own triennial London Show.

Our aim as a department is to inspire, challenge and support; to achieve excellence with impact. We cultivate girls’ enthusiasm and curiosity for visual culture through observational rigor, engaging students in a wide range of imaginative, aesthetic and creative experiences that enable them to develop their own voice in visual language. In the department, all artwork is informed with reference to both historical and contemporary artists and we facilitate learning in a broad range of specialisms. The emphasis is very much on the individual and a student’s increasing independence; our girls develop into calm, confident and creative Artists. We have strong links cross-curriculum and embrace opportunities to work collaboratively especially in light of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics).

The Art School is housed in purpose-built studios which we are developing within the school's ten-year plan. We currently have specialist facilities for painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, textiles, digital and darkroom photography, digital media, various forms of printmaking and Life Drawing in the Sixth Form. The Sixth Form each have a dedicated studio space of their very own. Art making extends far beyond the curriculum, with the Art School being open during evenings and weekends; there is always a wide a range of activities on offer. Girls regularly design and create the sets for school productions and we enter major art competitions including The Saatchi Gallery, Royal Academy, SpOke, YOUNG ARTS and The Sunday Telegraph Art Prize for Schools with high levels of success.

Artist in Residence

Visits from an exceptional range of artists helps better prepare pupils to think laterally, creatively and about careers at an early stage in an increasingly complex and competitive world. St Mary’s Artist in Residence programme gives pupils of all ages exposure to a wide variety of talents and experiences, stimulating ideas that weave in and support classroom work, through our Fourth Form Donaldson (enrichment) Weeks and in our Life Drawing Programme at the Sixth Form. Other professional artists are also invited in to work with the Fifth and Sixth Form. These professionals bring an insight into their bespoke practice and have recently included specialisms in printmaking, oil painting, illustration, lens and light-based media, enriching the academic curriculum in the process. The pupils are exposed to people who have creatively expressed ideas in ways that may not be immediately obvious – ways that span many disciplines, inspire, challenge and support.

Art Scholars

We have a number of Art Scholars creating work at any one time in the Art School. Each Scholar, having gone through a process of interviews, becomes a key figure for the subject in her year. As a role model, they demonstrate creativity, passion and care in all they do and are happy to work in the service of others. With this in mind, the Scholars represent and contribute their and their peers' views at the termly Art Council Meeting which directly influences the Art School and the opportunities we provide. Art Scholars work on areas of challenge and strength throughout the year for various internal and external exhibitions.


Art is a very popular option at GCSE, with outstanding results. The first term in the LV is spent experimenting with a range of methods, processes and techniques in preparation for starting the main coursework project. The OCR Specification is followed and we deliver Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, Ceramics, Photography, Digital Media and Sculpture within this. This lasts a year and the coursework personal portfolio is completed by the end of the Autumn Term in the UV. Coursework is based on previous year's examination titles and has included themes such as Architectural Spaces, Botany and Portraiture. Within this, girls choose to specialize in an area of their strength. After the completion of the portfolio, girls start to prepare for their examination which generally takes place at the end of the Spring Term. Girls are taken on trips to major museums and galleries nationwide to give them the opportunity to experience artworks first hand to inspire a greater level of creativity and understanding and firmly engage them on a personalised pathway. The emphasis at GCSE is on quality of skill and creative development; girls also learn the importance of sketchbook preparation. We have a range of work on display by all the girls at the final exhibition on Founders' Day.

GCSE OCR Key Information:

Portfolio 60% (Coursework)
Externally Set Task 40% (Examination)

Year One: 
Workshops & Portfolio begins; Internal Examination highlights key points for moving forwards.

Year Two: 
Complete Final Piece by October Half Term, the Portfolio by November.
January - Externally Set Task preparation
March - Externally Set Task concludes with a two-day examination.


Art continues to be a popular subject at A Level and complements a range of academic subjects. The OCR Specification is followed and the course is delivered through an initial series of workshops that span the specialisms on offer which include Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, Ceramics, Photography, Digital Media and Sculpture. Girls also receive weekly instruction in Life Drawing in the Autumn Term. After the workshops, girls begin their Personal investigation which they complete by February of Year Two. The second year is increasingly self-directed; by this time, the girls have cultivated their own interests and receive 1:1 support from their designated Art Tutor to help realise their own intentions practically and with their Related Study. The examination preparation begins in February and candidates have until May to come to a resolution piece that they complete during a three-day examination.

In the UVI, girls are required to write a Related Personal Study, a focused essay on a particular area of interest to supplement their artwork, which can be presented in the form of a documentary film, illustrated essay or relevant artistic form. It is also expected that alongside the numerous trips that they are taken on, the girls explore galleries and exhibitions in their own time.

Girls regularly choose to pursue Art beyond A Level and in recent years have gained entry to a number of prominent art schools and a wide range of other degree courses including The Ruskin, Leeds, Glasgow School of Art, Falmouth, St Martins, Edinburgh, Camberwell and Kingston.

A Level OCR Key Information:

Portfolio and Related study 60% (Coursework)
Externally Set Task 40% (Examination)

Year One: 
Workshops & Personal Investigation begins; Research and completion of the Related Personal Study.

Year Two: 
Complete Personal Investigation by November.
February - Internal Examination and Externally Set Task preparation
May - Externally Set Task concludes with a three-day examination.


We have a major annual exhibition as part of Founders' Day at the end of each Summer Term; work by every examination girl is on display with a selection of Scholar and Junior work also. Every three years we have a London Exhibition, details of recent events are found below. As a matter of course, every senior girl at St Mary’s has a piece of her work displayed.

Presence of Absence, 2021

‘Presence of Absence’, as our fourth triennial London Exhibition, continued to build on the strengths and challenges brought forth by what has become a key moment in the creative calendar of St Mary’s, Calne. We welcomed our guest speaker and judge, Sandra de Laszlo, Director and propagator of the de Laszlo Archive Trust and Founder of the Catalogue Raisonné Team, with the best of our senior students’ work presented alongside our gifted Alumnae, in addition to the emerging talent of our Scholars and junior students.  A breadth of technical skill, effort and talent is on display in a range of 2D, 3D and 4D media; reflecting the rigour, quality, and the future focus on emerging art practices.  Featured works included ‘Voices on the Wind’ the digital representation of our whole school community project in collaboration with professional Artist and Alumna, Arabella Dorman, and ‘Girl’, by Royal Academy Young Arts GCSE Painting category runner-up, Nina Li.  Other notable pieces also included work by Millie Knight who is on her second year reading Medicine at Bristol and that of our talented Head of Subject, Adrianna Wade whose work was selected for our lead image. 

We are keen to engender and promote the creative talents of our students and support their wish to pursue their intellectual and practical path of enquiry to become confident, curious, and creative in response to the world around them.  We recognise their ability to take risks without a fear of failure: that pursuing an individual path of enquiry through art is a major source of fulfilment which is deeply satisfying.  

A Sense of Place, 2018

A Sense of Place is our third triennial London Exhibition and continues to build in the artistic talents and strengths of St Mary’s Calne. We were proud to showcase the best of our Scholars, senior and junior girls’ work alongside our relearned alumnae, parents and staff at the wonderful Mall Galleries. 

We are keen to engender and promote the creative talents of our girls and support them in their wish to pursue their intellectual and practical paths of enquiry- encouraging them to become confident, curious and creative in response to the world around them.

Past, Present, Future, 2015

Past, Present, Future follows on from our hugely successful show in Cork Street – Consider the Lilies.  This time we pushed the boundaries even further and made the show bigger and better than ever!

St Mary's Calne has a strong and colourful history of artists, many of whom have gone on to achieve worldwide acclaim. Our Artists are from a wide range of disciplines and have varied connections with the school.

A new generation of artists are coming through the school. This was a wonderful opportunity for them to show their work alongside professional artists in a stunning London venue. 

Consider the Lilies, 2012

The Consider the Lilies Exhibition ran from 29th October to 1st November, at Gallery 27 in Cork street, London.

Named after the school's lily emblem, the exhibition brought together the work of 34 St Mary's Old Girl artists including Domenica de Ferranti, Phoebe Dickinson, Sarah Cosby, Lucy Kent and Trudy Montgomery with the work of a number of then current girls. There was a large variety of work on display, ranging from fine water colours and textiles to clay vessels and sculptures.

The exhibition was curated by St Mary's Old Girl Endellion Lycett-Green, whose renowned work, focusing on nature, was also a feature. 


We take students to various galleries and events each year which include Oxford and the Ashmolean and Pitt Rivers Museums, Bath and London. There is also a residential trip for the Sixth Form, prior to beginning their Personal investigation which includes working with the emphasis on experimentation and personal enquiry with a range of creative processes. As a matter of course, we take Senior girls to various places as appropriate for their projects to gather primary stimuli for their coursework and examination thematic starting points.

Mrs Annabel Owen, Director of Art