By Mr Jock Peebles, Head of Art and Design

Three decades ago, I picked up my first stick of charcoal to start teaching with. Over that time I’ve witnessed wonderful talent and uncovered some incredible creatives in my classes; pupils who have shaped and remodelled the world that we live in today. I have found these pupils as artists in waiting; as painters, potters, architects, printmakers, sculptors, textiles and fashion designers, and even web and games designers, the list is endless. Each pupil has brought something noteworthy to my lessons and pushed their standards onward, helping find improvement in the work for all their class members.

This year, and in fact over the last seven years, something truly special has been happening within my department at PGS. A small group of extraordinary pupils have been working at a different level. These are pupils who have lifted every supposition I held about them, and almost dared me to push them harder. These are pupils who have learned first and foremost, what it is to work as true artists, finding a rationale for their work and defying conventional expectations to present outcomes that are truly beyond their years. 

It’s taken thirty years of teaching for me to find a whole group this good. 

In June 2021, single pieces of their work were placed on show at The Jack House Gallery and we held a private view to celebrate the successes they had found over their full A Level and IB courses. This was the end of their time within the Art Department at PGS and it deserved to be marked, especially as we had been through almost three terms of lockdown. It was a truly special evening and everyone who saw the work in the week afterwards commented on how mature the pieces were, beyond the standards of a typical group of 16 to 18-year-olds. They were right. 

We will sorely miss all these pupils, and their dazzling work and ideas. They have held a beacon to the future cohorts of art pupils at PGS, for years to come.  I for one, am ready to see our next batches of pupils shine every bit as brightly as this one as they come up through our school. They have a hard act to follow.

At the private view, the pupils invited me to make a speech and I declined. I knew that if I had tried to express my feelings with the words that I really wanted to say, I would have filled up with raw emotion. 

This is the speech I should have spoken that evening.