This edition of 'Centre Stage' is with the wonderful Mrs Holmes. Mrs Holmes joined St James in September, working with Mrs Fischel-Bock, to bring out the the mini artist in all the children. We're constantly amazed by the incredible standard of Art that we see being produced, and the displays near the Office are a proud feature of our school.

What inspired you to become a teacher?

When I was eight years old I remember sitting with my younger sister, who was four at the time, teaching her to read a Cinderella book we had at home. In South African schools children are only taught to read formally from the age of six but seeing as my sister showed such an eagerness to learn I would sit with her for hours going over all the letters and encouraging her to sound out the words. She caught on quickly and before long was able to read the whole book fluently! Over the years she developed a great love for reading and story writing, which earned her the top prize in a national English creative writing competition, and she was awarded a full bursary for the first year of her studies. She is now a qualified veterinarian. I like to think that my input in her early years had a vital part to play! So in a nutshell - it was that incredibly rewarding feeling I got when I saw the joy experienced by my sister when learning to read that inspired me to become a teacher.

Why do you think art is such an important part of the curriculum?

Art is a subject where children can truly be themselves. The opportunity for creative expression is so important to their emotional development and wellbeing. I truly believe Pablo Picasso’s famous quote, ‘Every child is an artist’ and I feel that being allowed to create is a vital building block in the development of a child’s self esteem and feeling of worth. Besides these benefits, Art is also an important tool in improving fine-motor coordination and it teaches children to become more detail orientated, particularly when drawing from observation and truly ‘looking’ at an object. Drawing also helps children to be more mindful of what they see around them.

What has struck you most about teaching Art at St James?

I love teaching Art at St James and particularly enjoy working alongside the highly experienced Mrs Jaki Fischel-Bock. We are both members of the Serpentine Swimming Club so we were already friends before I accepted the job at St James. She has been such an incredible mentor to me and her guidance has made settling into a new school so seamless. All the other members of staff at St James have been so welcoming and supportive too! The other thing I find especially great about teaching Art at St James is the wide range of resources we have at our disposal; from our kiln to our beautiful art room which is always filled with glorious light! It is an inspiring place to be and I think the children enjoy being in the room as much as I do.

Who is your favourite artist and why?

I have always had a passion for art and love a wide variety of artists, ranging from classical to modern. However, if I had to pick just one I would have to say that my favourite artist is Henri Matisse. I find his use of colour and vivid, expressive style (seen particularly in his Fauvist paintings) incredibly striking. Matisse's massive cut outs are amazing too and they really appeal to my love of graphic design with their bold shapes and colours. He was such an incredibly versatile artist and I find it fascinating looking at how his wide range of styles has evolved over his career in his paintings, collage and sculptures.

How do you spend your Sundays?

I am a keen cold-water swimmer so you can often find me swimming in the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park or at the Tooting Bec Lido.  My husband, Thomas, sometimes joins me although he is not partial to getting up early or immersing himself in cold water! If I do manage to persuade him to get up and join me at the Serpentine he will watch from the side (with a strong coffee) and join our group of swimming friends and me for a post swim breakfast at the Lido café. Thomas is a graphic designer so because of our shared interest in art we often pop into the nearby Serpentine galleries to see the latest exhibitions after breakfast. Being South African, we also tend to enjoy Sunday afternoon ‘braais’ (barbecues) with friends.