Dean Close School was pleased to welcome Natasha Houseago, professional sculptor, to exhibit her pieces in the BonBernard Gallery earlier this year. The purpose built art School was filled with a range of beautiful and interesting sculptures, all created under the title “Turbulent”. Pupils, parents and members of the community were all welcome to explore the exhibition and chat to the artist herself.

Natasha works mainly in green wood – combining her own studio practice in Cheltenham, with exhibiting, teaching carving, community and public art projects and residencies in the UK and abroad. Although she has worked in other materials she is always drawn back to wood believing it to be “a magical, potent, living material”. All of her wood has fallen naturally, and she loves that sense of giving it another life.

Natasha has worked with artists in the Lower Sixth Form at Dean Close previously, teaching them the methods of wood carving. She encourages pupils to begin with some loose drawings which they then transfer in chalk onto the solid blocks of wood where they begin the very physical process of carving, hacking, rasping and scraping.

Head of Art at Dean Close School, Caroline Evans, said:  “It is an absolute pleasure to welcome Natasha back to Dean Close with such a stunning exhibition. The pupils have been inspired by the materials, techniques and tools that Natasha uses and I’m sure the exhibition will encourage more 3D work and sculpture in the future”.


This September, Dean Close is hugely excited to host an exhibition of drawing and painting by Old Decanian, George Thomas, from 6 September to 14 October.

George tells us about his artist journey to date:

“I left Dean Close in 2013 with A Levels in History, Politics and Art and went on to do an Art Foundation course at SGS College Stroud.  Whist studying in Stroud I worked as a caricature artist at the local farmers’ market where I realised the need to work under time pressure!  After completing my Foundation Course I moved to London to study at the London Atelier of Representational Art (LARA).

LARA is an art school which focuses on training its students rigorously in traditional academic drawing and painting techniques. My passion for portraiture, figurative and highly skilled representational art (which has been with me since an early age) was my reason to study at LARA as opposed to at a university.  During my time studying in London I continued to work as a caricature artist, working at events across the country. I have exhibited both figurative and Plein Air art in various exhibitions in London including on The King’s Road, Chelsea and at Candid Arts, Angel.

In 2016 I won the Tuscany Plein Air Scholarship where I spent a week painting landscapes in a villa in the Tuscan countryside.  I have been on many painting adventures; these include climbing a flat top mountain on the Venezuelan-Brazilian border where I painted a watercolour using water I’d collected from a mountain stream, travelling to the Pyrenees to paint in the snow, and asking locals in Tarifa, Spain to sit for me whilst I drew their portrait.  All these have furthered me to seek inspiration to create captivating and beautiful artworks.

My art is routed in the boundaries of observed light and form.  Working predominately from life I seek to capture an accurate likeness of the figure, landscape or object I am depicting.  I seek to capture the feelings and emotions of my subject.  I design my composition to highlight the elements which bring the sentiment of the scene to life and convey these to the viewer.”


Former pupil, Min Kim, returned to Dean Close to hold a Private View of her own, solo exhibition in the School’s BonBernard Gallery.  She is the fourth student to return to the School with a solo exhibition.  Min left Dean Close in 2007 and went on to study at The Slade School of Fine Art and, most recently completed her MA at The Royal College of Art. She is currently forging a career as a professional artist working both in the UK and Korea.

Her show, ‘Evolve’, was a retrospective exhibition that charts the past 10 years of her practice, from A Level to current day, as she has searched for her own pictorial language.

Head of Art, Caroline Evans, said: “Min is an exceptionally talented young artist whose work is as beautiful as it is extraordinary, anyone who views her work cannot help but be impressed.  It makes for fascinating viewing.”

At Dean Close, Min experienced a new way of art education which was different from what she had learnt in Korea. Learning the importance of process and creativity made a strong base for further education in art colleges in London.  Later her work drew inspiration from nature. The paintings are dreamy and other-worldly with bright colours and uncanny forms. Eventually, she began to focus on pure abstraction; colour, form, texture. The colours and forms in the abstract landscapes slowly formed into the basic shapes in the later works. She was interested in the relationship between each shapes and creating unknown spaces within the 2D canvas space.

At the Royal College of Art, Min researched geometric abstract works and Russian constructivists such as El Lissitzky, Malevich and Mondrian. Since completing her Masters, her works are more simplified and modernized. The shapes in the earlier works became much smaller and they are placed in a regular pattern cross the canvas. It looks like a kind of code or language at the first glance but they like to be read as separate individuals. As the figures became more complicated, the colours became simpler. The gradation (the changes of tone) have become much more important in her work. Her work still has the feeling of a spatial or multidimensional world in the relationship of time and space.


In January 2017, Dean Close Art School hosted an exhibition of paintings by Kim Williams, formerly an Artist in Residence at the School.  Kim left Dean Close in 2007 and brought back the work she has created over the last ten years in a show aptly entitled ‘Back to School’.

Kim was born in Brecon in 1967 and studied at West Glamorgan Institute of Higher Education, Swansea, Cheltenham School of Art and The Royal Drawing School, London.  Exhibiting widely in England, Wales and abroad, she has achieved a number of awards for her drawings including: Royal Overseas League, Hunting Art Prizes, Cleveland International Drawing Biennale and the Elizabeth Greenshields.  Kim’s work is inspired by the beauty of objects and spaces that she observes and experiences. This may be a group of apples, a vase of flowers, a landscape or an interior. Light plays a crucial role in her work and is most evident in her charcoal drawings of interiors.  Her influences include painters of quiet, contemplative subjects such as Vermeer, Vuillard, William Nicholson and Gwen John.



The French painter, sculptor and designer was one of the 20th century’s most influential artists. His vibrant works are celebrated for their extraordinary richness and luminosity of colour. This exhibition featured 35 lithographic prints of the famous cut-outs, produced in the last four years of his life, when the artist was confined to his bed. It includes many of his iconic images, such as The Snail and the Blue Nudes.’There is no gap between my earlier pictures and my cut-outs’, Matisse wrote; ‘I have only reached a form reduced to the essential through greater absoluteness and greater abstraction’.


Alphabet is a set of bold and colourful silkscreen prints, one for each letter of the alphabet, produced by the artist in 1991. Peter Blake emerged in the 1960s as one of the leading British Pop Artists; he is most famous, perhaps, for his cover design of The Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper album in 1967. Alphabet characterises his method of working, incorporating ‘found’ imagery from postcards, magazines and popular ephemera. From the familiar Z for Zebra, to the esoteric P for Pachyderm and iconic K for King (Elvis Presley), these screen prints reflect his humour, nostalgia and eclecticism.


Inside the Castle, 1969In 1969 David Hockney made a series of prints to illustrate six fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm; a book was published the following year in a limited edition. Since then the etchings have been exhibited and admired throughout the world. Hockney is a natural draughtsman and the elegant lines and tonal variations of his prints precisely capture the mood of the tales. Whereas earlier illustrations tended to depict the crucial moments in stories, Hockney uses an array of imaginative graphic techniques to highlight descriptions in the text.The exhibition provided inspiration to Lower Sixth artists who were looking at Hockney’s drawing techniques, and to Remove pupils who were working to the theme of figures and emotions.


The Monkey, 1936A stunning set of 31 prints depicting animals, birds, insects and other creatures was on display. The images, started by Picasso in 1936 for the picture dealer and publisher, Ambroise Vollard, were created to accompany the classic text, Histoire Naturelle, written in 1749. Combining a wide variety of techniques, including lift-ground aquatint, etching and drypoint, Picasso produced images of great clarity, immediacy and beauty. Each picture is quite different in style to the next, and in one you can clearly see Picasso’s fingerprints used over a bunch of grapes. Pupils in Remove, studying art, worked on their own animal-themed projects, taking inspiration from the Picasso exhibition.