My love for art and its vibrant history has been present ever since I can remember. I was never ‘dragged’ round galleries by my parents; I wanted to be there. I needed to analyse our collective histories conveyed through oils, collage, inks and marble in order to understand my minuscule position within our vast shared experience. The study of Art History allows a peek into who we are; it is the oldest form of human expression, spanning beyond the dawn of language, music and literature.
It was only with the opportunity to study the discipline at A Level that I made the decision to devote my academic career, from school and beyond, to the subject. Without this choice, I am sure that looking at paintings would simply have stayed a hobby. As someone with academic dyspraxia, the ability to write A Level essays surrounding visual, tangible concepts rather than abstract facts meant that I could excel in my last years of school, allowing me to apply to both the universities of Cambridge and St Andrews. By culling Art History as an A Level, the government is cutting short the academic careers and passions of so many. The academic discipline has produced some of the country’s greatest commentators and critics on art, and it has been used by some of history’s greatest minds at the greatest universities to inform theories on human expression.
The study of Art History cannot be considered ‘soft’, as it is currently by various politicians and educational officials. It requires advanced analytical skill to be juggled with great emotional sensitivity and a complex understanding of visual objects in relation to people, both physically and figuratively. Analysing art has massive benefits for the academic and emotional development of young people, as it challenges opinions and notions about the world surrounding us. Why, purely because it is a more empathetic subject than those, which can be deemed logical or numerical, should it be considered ‘soft’? It is backward and impassive to place greater importance on less ‘emotional’ subjects, particularly at a time when the world could use a little more sympathetic perception and awareness of each other as individuals. It baffles me that in times of austerity these essential arts subjects, which are necessary for us to understand where we have gone wrong in history, are undervalued and considered as luxuries. It is confusing how art history can be considered as an ‘elite’ subject, when it is a field which strives to evaluate a wholly inclusive history of artistic expression comprising of all humans; from cave paintings, to Japanese calligraphy prints, to the sculptures of Michelangelo and the challenging canvases of Rothko. Art is an outlet, a manifesto, an insular exploration and a projection of what it means to be us.
Therefore, I implore those making these decisions to rethink. Otherwise, I, and many others who consider this incredible subject to be essential to the A Level curriculum, foresee a detrimental effect on the art and design industries, as well as our comprehension of our shared experiences and integrity as a compassionately educated population.
Please sign this petition to Save History of Art!