Sunningwell School of Art is situated four miles south of the City of Oxford, down winding country lanes, past the village pub and opposite the 13th century village church.
Housed in a typically styled, old village school with high windows and polished wooden floors, reminiscent of old school days perhaps, but where now a vibrant, creative atmosphere prevails.
When Sunningwell’s church school became vacant in 1972, a group of enthusiasts founded an art school. Initially there were 30 students and now over 400 enrol each term. The school is funded by tuition fees, fund raising events, small grants from local organisations and generous students.
The age range of students spans from 5 years old to over eighty and the three Rs have been replaced by drawing, painting, sculpture and pottery. The school offers daytime and evening classes and caters for all abilities – supporting, advising and encouraging students to develop their skills and talents. The walls of the well-lit studios, containing easels and tables, are covered with students’ art work from absolute beginners to the most advanced.
Behind the school, looking out over green fields, trees and farmland, stands the purpose built pottery which was opened in 1986. This is well equipped and spacious, containing heavy duty benches, potters’ wheels, hand tools, a variety of clays, two large kilns and a separate glaze room. The shelves are filled from floor to ceiling with students’ pots and sculpture in various stages of progress.
The high-ceilinged Common Room, where breaks for refreshments are held, also exhibits students’ paintings, drawings, sculpture and pottery. Here will be found a happy, extremely friendly atmosphere with much praise and enthusiastic discussion over one another’s work. Students also have the opportunity to browse the extensive library of art books.
The school takes part in the Oxford Artweeks Festival during the May bank holiday weekend. This exhibition of students’ work has proved to be so successful that it has now become an annual event with several hundred visitors to the exhibition each year.
Sunningwell School of Art is a unique and very special resource for the local area. We have an ongoing commitment to improve the facilities, to help students achieve their full potential and to respond to students’ changing needs and interests.
Sunningwell has proved to be a place where inspiration can be found, talent nurtured, like-minded artists can meet and long-standing friendships made.