With a BA Hons in Fine Art, Bansted Preparatory School’s Mr Matt Ayling has designed and adapted an excellent Art & Design curriculum, which makes full use of the school’s fantastic facilities and resources

When and why did you become an art teacher? I have been teaching art for 10 years after studying Fine Art at university. I have always had an appreciation of children’s art; they exhibit a freedom of expression that is often lost in adulthood. As Picasso said: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

Can you tell us a little about the importance and benefits of encouraging creativity at school? Where do I start! Creativity is certainly not limited to art and the key is teaching children that they are all naturally creative and to have confidence in applying this thinking to everything they do, not just art.
At Banstead Prep we recognise that creativity and problem-solving skills are essential for children’s future careers. Our projects, especially in Life Skills lessons, are designed to encourage creativity, giving children the opportunity to make mistakes, experiment and find new innovative solutions.

Where do you find inspiration for the projects you set pupils? I find inspiration everywhere, but mostly from established artists and designers, building projects that are hands on and allow the children room to experiment, apply their own ideas and work through problems. Art should be fun and rewarding for all.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job? It is always rewarding to see excited and happy children taking part in a lesson that I have designed, but what sticks most in my mind is witnessing that moment when a child realises that they can do ‘it’, or sees their art on display at our annual exhibition. They glow with pride, pointing and showing their family what they have done. It is an extremely rewarding job.

Is there an artist who has been particularly influential for you? If I had to choose one, it would have to be Henri Matisse. His work, particularly the paper cut outs, shares similar qualities to children’s art: fusing strong colour, expressive marks and bold shapes, whilst using a visual language that is deceptively complex and full of beauty.

What do you like to do in your spare time? I’m currently working on a series of pastel drawings, mostly displaying imagined interior or still life ‘style’ compositions, combining vibrant colour and abstract elements. They are certainly inspired by the children’s art!

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