Cranbrook Education Campus, part of the Ted Wragg Trust family, welcomed local artist Brenda Thomas into the school this month, marking the first artistic contribution to the school's gallery initiative in 2024. The initiative, started in February 2023, aims to bring the world of art closer to the Cranbrook community.
Brenda Thomas works largely with recycled fabrics and her work is inspired by coastal walks with her dog. Her work has been exhibited around the country and several pieces have won national awards.
The gallery initiative stems from a listening campaign conducted within the community. Families highlighted the challenges of transportation between Cranbrook and Exeter, while students expressed their desire for more opportunities to engage with the arts. In response, Cranbrook Education Campus reached out to Devon-based artists willing to share their work with Cranbrook pupils in their very own gallery space.
In 2023, the school hosted the "Behind the Lens'' exhibition, featuring LGBT photography capturing moments of Pride events, accompanied by reflections on love and acceptance. In September, landscape artworks including watercolours, acrylics and ink work by artist Clare Brown created a serene and contemplative atmosphere, encouraging students to reflect on the beauty of their region.
The latest addition to the school's art collection by Brenda Thomas focuses on the power of textiles. Brenda has been extremely generous and spent time with Year 6 pupils Maria Salome and Maria Jose to curate the exhibition space and explain her process too. Both Marias, expressing interest in the arts industry during career talks with their teachers, had the unique opportunity to witness and handle artwork alongside Brenda, an experience they cherished and have been talking about ever since.
Brenda's impact extends beyond the gallery walls, as she has left Cranbrook Education Campus with a travelling collection of additional pieces. These pieces will circulate among classes, enriching the students' artistic experience. Furthermore, future workshops with students are planned for later in the term, ensuring an ongoing engagement with the arts at Cranbrook.
Ms Krisha Gandhi, Senior Deputy Head of Campus and Primary Headteacher at Cranbrook Education Campus said: “I want to say a huge thank you to Brenda for taking the time to visit us and for working with some of our pupils. Cranbrook Education Campus continues to foster an ambitious and inclusive environment, where the arts play an important role in transforming lives and strengthening our community.”
Moira Marder, CEO of the Ted Wragg Trust said: “Everyone across our trust is delighted about the gallery initiative at Cranbrook and Brenda Thomas's contribution exemplifies why it’s so important - creating meaningful connections between the community, learning and opportunities. Well done to everyone involved”