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Dame Judi Dench praises Pocklington School’s new Art and Design Technology Centre

Wednesday 23 May 2018

Photo L to R: Old Pocklingtonian Professor Steven Kyffin, Campaign Chairman Christopher Oughtred, Campaign President Lord Halifax,  students Cameron Adams & Florence Colbeck, building architect Simon Mitchell,  student Magnus Swann and Headmaster Mark Ronan.

Pocklington School’s new £3m Art and Design Technology Centre was officially opened on Friday 18 May 2018, in a ceremony attended by more than 150 guests including campaign donors, Governors, staff and students.

Three years after the School announced plans to launch a fundraising campaign to raise the £2 million needed to build the new Centre, guests were able to see how the success of the campaign had made the School’s vision to continue its great tradition of inspiring creative minds a reality.

Campaign patron and donor, York-born actress Dame Judi Dench, sent a special message to those gathered at the event, saying she was unable to attend as she was in the middle of filming, but she is delighted at the success of the campaign and sends congratulations to you all.

The Centre was officially opened by Campaign President Lord Halifax, who cut the opening ribbon helped by three Pocklington School students, all of whom who are already benefiting from the Centre’s well-equipped studios, workshops and open, light-filled spaces.

Lord Halifax praised the “fantastic support” of the Pocklington School community for providing the facilities for future generations of art, design and technology students to develop their talents.

A level art student Florence Colbeck, who designed the laser cut, corten steel centrepiece to the Centre’s opening foyer, said: “We now have the opportunity to try out a greater range of techniques and there’s room to display our work, too, so we can learn from each other.”

Magnus Swann, a 5th Year student who is studying art, design and photography, said: “I’m excited about all the new kit for photography students – and the fact the rooms are so big and light.”

The Centre, which has impressive facilities for the pursuit of design technology, art, photography and related disciplines, was designed by York architect Simon Mitchell, of the Mitchell Design Consultancy, and built by Hull-based construction firm Houlton. Headmaster Mark Ronan praised the design and construction teams, and thanked School staff for their hard work to ensure the project ran smoothly, which had been crucial to its success.

Old Pocklingtonian Professor Steven Kyffin, now Pro Vice-Chancellor (Business and Enterprise) at Northumbria University and Campaign Patron, praised the School’s long-standing recognition that creativity and innovation are the driving force behind any successful workplace.

He said: “When I came here in 1970 it changed my life for ever. It made me creative, it made me a trader, it made me understand what it is to connect all the disciplines – all the things this department does so well, and will continue to do so well, to equip present students to go on and lead in the future.”

Recalling the School’s famous early pupil, the slave trade abolitionist William Wilberforce, he added: “Wilberforce changed the way we understand humanity and how we exploit humanity. What’s been happening here now, and has been happening for the last 50 years, is about how we create our future in a different way, bringing the disciplines together to create new ideas and represent them through the Centre’s work.”  

Tom Wood, the Internationally-renowned artist, was a guest at the event.  Tom’s portraits of Prince Charles, Professor Robert Winston and Alan Bennett have all been exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery, and his paintings hang in galleries all over the world. As guests toured the new building, they saw some of Tom’s work on display alongside that of students in one of the several art studios specially designed to make the most of the North light essential to artists.

Guests also bid for three artist’s prints donated by Old Pocklingtonian Professor Xavier Pick, a former war artist in Iraq who now teaches art in Hong Kong. The proceeds will be used to help buy equipment for the new Centre. 

Christopher Oughtred, Campaign Chairman, said support from the Pocklington School community had been strong from the moment the fundraising campaign for a new Centre was launched. A special commemorative ‘Book of Benefactors’, to be placed in the School’s Archive Room, records the campaign’s progress and the many enjoyable and well-attended events of the three year campaign.

To view photographs from the Official Opening Ceremony please click here.