Art is an integral part of life at Downe House and girls have enormous enthusiasm for the subject. With three art studios, a pottery, two photography studios, a dark room and an Art History suite, girls have the facilities at their fingertips to let their creativity soar.

Head of Art Faculty: Mrs Kirsten Mortimer

Art is important in the lives of the girls at Downe House. There is an enormous enthusiasm for the subject and excellent standards are achieved at all levels.

Lower School curriculum

All pupils study Art and Design for the first three years. The aim of the course is to enable the girls to develop the ability to appreciate the visual world and to respond in a personal and creative way. To this end pupils have the opportunity to work using a variety of subject matter and media and will develop skills to interpret and convey ideas and feelings using art, craft and design. They also develop imaginative and creative powers and experimental, analytical and documenting skills. Pupils acquire a specialist vocabulary and the knowledge and understanding of the place of art, craft and design in history and in contemporary society.

Gallery visits and workshops facilitate an appreciation of work from firsthand experience and foster a love of art in a variety of genres and styles from a range of cultures.

Remove and Lower Fourth

During Remove and Lower Fourth, the art curriculum is focused on giving pupils a comprehensive understanding of the basic elements of the subject: line, shape, form, colour, tone, pattern, and texture. Pupils acquire sound technical skills and are taught how to demonstrate control of materials so that they can handle them inventively to communicate their ideas in visual and tactile form.  

Pupil progress is assessed according to these criteria:

  • Interest and enjoyment
  • Practical skill
  • Ability to express ideas visually
  • Ability to make aesthetic judgements
  • Ability to observe, record and interpret
  • Ability to transpose from two to three dimensions and vice-versa
  • Ability to work co-operatively

Work is generally thematic, and observational drawing is particularly important. Historical, cultural, and contextual studies are introduced informally. Pupils are encouraged to relate their own practice to their appreciation and knowledge of established works of art, craft, and design. Cross-curricular activities are integrated into the course. Full use is made of the School environs.

All pupils are given sketchbooks to enable them to develop their own ideas and to encourage them to work in an independent way. The books are also used to collect and record information and ideas and to reinforce learning. 

Teachers are free to interpret the core themes according to their particular interests and individual schemes of work are designed to challenge pupils with a range of different learning styles.

All work is marked in accordance with the Art Department and school marking policy.

During the Lent term in Lower Fourth, pupils decide on their Creative Option choices for the Upper Fourth year.

Upper Fourth

The work in Upper Fourth is designed to consolidate the skills and knowledge gained in the previous two years. Pupils continue to explore a range of media and are encouraged to sustain their efforts to produce outcomes of a good standard. Projects include the designing and painting of large murals, exploring printmaking techniques, developing ceramic work, mixed media collage work and observational painting and drawing based studies.

The History of Art is considered an important part of the three-year course. Pupils are introduced to a variety of artists/craftspeople and movements to influence and inspire them. Pupils are then prepared to make informed Art and Design GCSE option choices at the end of the Lent term.  

Upper School curriculum

Pupils may then opt to pursue AQA Fine Art at GCSE Level where emphasis is placed on observational drawing and painting.

Sixth Form curriculum

Edexcel Fine Art is offered at A Level in the Sixth Form.

Art enrichment

To enable girls to continue to develop creative expertise, we offer co-curricular clubs are offered in art and pottery.

A large number of pupils go on to study Art and Design on Foundation Courses or at University leading to careers in Fine Art, Design, Fashion, Graphics, Illustration, and the Media.

Further information about the teaching and learning of art may be obtained by contacting the Head of Department, Mrs Kirsten Mortimer by emailing

Meet the Art Department

 Mrs K Mortimer – Head of Department (Art, Photography, History of Art)

MA Fine Art / Print Making, PGCE 

Mrs A Keeling – Teacher of Art

BA Three Dimensional Design – Ceramics, PGCE

Mrs Heather Lamont – Teacher of Art


Mrs T Jones – Teacher of Textiles, Teacher of Art, History of Art Tutor

MA Fine Art, PGCE

Mrs N Fox-Bloor – Teacher of Fine Art Photography, i/c Photography

MA Photography

Ms D Slocombe – Teacher of History of Art

MA History of Art, PGCE

Mrs E Egan – Art Technician


Ms S Yarwood – Art Technician

Tours & Open Mornings

The best way to find out more about Downe House is to experience it for yourself. Book a personal tour or join us at one of our Open Mornings, available throughout the year.