I’m originally Swiss/Canadian and I grew up in Kenya. I love art and have been in the arts all my life - as an architect, art consultant and art teacher. I started out as an architect after earning a Bachelor in Fine Arts then a B.Arch. from the Rhode Island School of Design in the US. Afterwards, in New York I worked for architectural firms specializing in building projects, from skyscrapers (one in Canary Wharf) to airports – very hard work! In 2000 I won a scholarship to do a Masters in Fine Arts at the University of Miami and my life changed. Being able to totally immerse myself in the fine arts was absolutely divine and it was there, working as an Adjunct Professor that I discovered my love of teaching. And surprisingly, teaching university students is not that different from prep school aged children. St James Prep pupils grasp art concepts and techniques which belie their age. Art truly is a universal discipline that can facilitate a deep connection to something greater than ourselves. And trying to spark that magic in a child is very rewarding.
My own artwork has spanned from the traditional skills of representational art (drawing, painting and sculpture) to large scale polymer installations - one was 30 ft tall! I love being able to share my appreciation of a broad range of art with the children.
I live with my husband in Kensington and we have three adult children. I am a passionate scuba diver and cold water swimmer - anything to do with water! Since lockdown, I’ve also rediscovered my love of running.
What attracted you to St James?
Honestly, for me it was St James’s appreciation of the arts. I had an immediate sense that St James really championed the creative side of a child’s development and that was very attractive to me. The facilities are unparalleled in a school of its size – our art room is a joy to be in, an artist’s studio loft, all windows. In it, we work with clay (we have our own kiln), printmaking, silk-screening, mosaic making and of course constant drawing and painting. The art syllabus encompasses almost every aspect of art making and I love that.
What makes a St James education stand out?
St James has a deep respect for the artistic dimension in every child. In today’s world of technology with children spending much of their time in front of screens it’s crucially important that they have the opportunity to thoroughly explore their creative side. And St James teaches to each child’s higher self and sense of wonder, responding by doing their best on their own personal journey.
What strikes you about St James pupils?
By learning to use the technique of “pausing” at the beginning and end of each activity I find the pupils can bring that same focus and attention to the project at hand. There is nothing nicer in the world than being in a classroom of children deeply concentrating and loving what they are doing. They adore working with their hands (and get very messy)! Both Mrs Holmes – my lovely co-coordinator – and I ban the use of rubbers and we heartily discourage the children saying that “they’re not happy with their artwork”. This teaches us all about accepting what we do as “being good enough” and to appreciate all types and styles of art, most importantly their own.