Oatlands Junior School on shortlist for Saatchi art prize

17 February 2016

Oatlands Junior School in Harrogate is excited to find out that they have been shortlisted for the 2016 Saatchi Gallery/Deutsche Bank Art Prize that has received over 22,000 entries from 54 different countries.

The installation submitted, Conserving our Biodiversity, involved all 300 children from the School.

The installation will be exhibited at the Saatchi Gallery in London between Thursday 3rd and Tuesday 9th March, with a special award ceremony to announce the winners on the 3rd March.

The panel of judges this year included: Alistair Hicks, Senior Curator for Deutsche Bank; Nigel Hurst, CEO of the Saatchi Gallery; Jeremy Newton, CEO of Children & the Arts; Alastair Sooke, Art Critic and Broadcaster for The Telegraph and BBC and Julia Wachtel, artist.

Jill Cooper, Headteacher, said:

The whole school is buzzing with excitement and pride. Seeing our whole school art installation in the Saatchi Gallery is a once in a lifetime opportunity. We are so thankful to our art teacher, Sam Joseph, for having had the vision and so very proud of our children for rising to the challenge.

Conserving Our Biodiversity

This was a whole school inclusive art project inspired by the artist Ai Weiwei. The project looks at what is happening in our biodiversity and the potential threat to wild plants and flowers.


Every child at Oatlands Junior School created a clay sculpture focusing on their forms and details translated from their illustrations of a wild plant or flower, which is on the Red Data List for the British Isles. Some of these plants and flowers are already extinct or critically endangered in the wild, through the impact of our modern day living and climate change.

The project was devised by Specialist Art Teacher Sam Joseph (BA Hons, Central Saint Martins, PGCE MARJON). Her breadth of teaching and industry experience has brought real life opportunities to Art projects developed at Oatlands, reflecting the environment and world children live in.

Sam Joseph said:

I was incredibly thrilled to hear the news, so much so, I screamed and jumped into the air!’ ‘This project looked at the fragility of our biodiversity.

It was moving to teach and see this project evolve. Every child at Oatlands wanted to show the forms and details of their wild plant or flower from the Red Data List of the British Isles, to show what could be lost forever.

To see the installation of 300 sculptures assembled was a moment I will never forget. I was overwhelmed by the cumulative beauty of each piece carefully sculpted by children who in a piece of clay wanted to say something about the world they live in.’

Art stands out as a subject where children confidently and creatively can express who they are without fear of failure and the children really appreciate that.

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