This year, nearly 1,280 aspiring artists in college or at Sixth Form submitted their work to the A-Level Summer Exhibition Online. Here, you can see the 36 outstanding works of art selected by our expert panel.
Having your work chosen to appear in the A-level Summer Exhibition Online is one of the greatest accolades in the art world for this age group. Many of these young artists will go on to develop their talents at art school and in their careers beyond. Works are entered from all over the UK and showcase a rich variety of styles and media; from drawing and video to sculpture and prints, painting and photography.
This year, our panel of judges includes curator of this summer’s Radical Geometry exhibition Dr Adrian Locke, RA Schools student Julie Born Schwartz and Humphrey Ocean RA, one of Britain’s most successful contemporary painters.
Held to coincide with the world’s largest open entry exhibition, the Summer Exhibition, this online equivalent for artists aged 16–18 signals an exciting future for art in this country. Be one of the first to discover it now.
9 June — 17 August
Xavier de la Roche,RUIN 1.
The piece is the result of an extensive inquest into the way material can dictate form. At the time, I was studying the work of the influencial Italian architect and theorist, Andrea Palladio.
In his architecture, he strives to remove any superfluous forms of ornamentation, refining his design by keeping within the classical grammar.
I applied this process of refinement to RUIN 1 by ensuring that each segment of clay was contributing to the structural frame of the piece.
Prior to the creation of RUIN 1, I had been deeply interested in cranes, in particular the two abandoned cranes outside Battersea Power Station in London, as well as the box-like form of antique Chinese chairs, so the the shape of RUIN 1 draws from these influences..
Paper clay. 33 x 9 x 33 cm.
Eva Viskovic,Optimism of the Housewife.
Marist Senior School
I am a 17 year old A-level art student. I was inspired by the stereotype of the 1950s housewife, an image that reflected a passive and conformist character. During the 1950s a women’s role was seen to be at home with her family, carrying out her chores and obeying her husband. This image has drastically changed overtime, with new opportunities that allow women to have the same responsibilities as men.
I wanted to create a piece of art that is inspired by the conformity of the 1950s housewife, merged with the concept of being optimistic for new opportunities in the future. I was inspired by the social realism of Edward Hopper’s work, creating a piece that described the life of a suburban stereotype.
I chose to paint this piece using the colour green within the jumper, to signify hope, with her eyes closed to imply that she is thinking of her future..
Acrylic, canvas. 102 x 76 cm.
Sophie Taylor,Underneath the surfaces.
Shrewsbury Sixth Form
Another image from my prison series. Taken in the cellars of a deserted prison, little light and dirty conditions but there is something beautiful about this from the textures to the lines.
This photograph also worked well as a Cyanotype Photogram due to the formal elements..
This is a drawing done in a life drawing class where there is a real freedom to experiment and explore materials..
Watercolour, ink, conte crayon. 60 x 80 cm.
Daniel Kimber Binmore,Elephonium.
The King’s School
I created this piece after looking into Surrealist artists and in particular Vladimir Kush, who gave me the idea for mixing animals with everyday objects. I think that these two particular things go well together as they are a similar shape and elephants are known for trumpeting their horns..
Clay, acrylic paint. 15 x 20 x 30 cm.
The North Halifax Grammar School
Landscape photography has also been an interest of mine; being able to capture the beauty of nature around us. With the influence of Ansel Adams and Fay Godwin, I have been able to capture an aesthetic image of the landscape.
Just by chance, I found this bus stop on a foggy day where the landscape was just sat behind it; the condensation and blurred effect on the wall of the bus stop was what made this photo so interesting..
Photograph. 60 x 40 cm.
Georgia Grace Gibson,As Many Genders As There Are Flowers, series,2014.
Durham Sixth Form Centre
From a project on sexuality, this series is a photographic study into the idea of not fitting into societies presupposed gender constraints and exploring how gender cannot be boxes to tick, but more of a spectrum defined by our personal feelings and not exterior features. My inspiration for this piece was the idea of androgyny and how dressing to fit neither genders usually just means girls dressing masculine and being seen as lesbians or butch.
I attempted to by photographing someone whose body looks stereotypically male, but who is wearing stereotypically female underwear. I attempted to concentrate on masculine features; showing hair in underarms, hair on legs and the typical hands in pants male shot. However, I contrasted these masculine poses and body features with floral bedding and of course, the lace bra and pants.
I also wanted to reference gender roles as I have in the past- particularly (in the first shot) the idea of how a female showing nipples is often not allowed, but a man showing nipples is. This first shot shows how the model could identify as male or female or neither, but is allowed to have their nipple showing as they have a biologically male body.
Overall, this piece was intended to make the viewer think and masculine and feminine traits and what defines gender and the roles it implies in current society. I have included some extra detail photos from this photo shoot which are taken with a digital camera instead of film..
Fujifilm instax mini polaroid camera, canon digital camera, lace underwear. 21 x 29.7 cm.
Adam Britnell,Towering Structure.
Brighton and Hove Sixth Form College
This piece was made for my A level Fine art course where I explored Towering Structures. I was inspired by Lakov Chernikhov and used applied similar qualities of multiplied shapes and lines to produce a structural form. The colours and shape were inspired by Chernikhov’s work as well as the new block of apartments outside Tate Modern..
MDF base, Iron rods, coloured canford card. 60 x 160 x 60 cm.
Tarique Al-Shabazz,Consumed by technology.
Calday Grange Grammar School
This was a piece that expressed my view on the current attitudes towards the society I live in..
Acrylic paint. 80 x 120 x 1 cm.
Pavel Davison,Urban Treetop.
A painting inspired by my project into landscapes with a hint of rural features. After waiting for the perfect moment I eventually got a photo of an amazing sight of Manchester, this was then painted taking several hours to complete..
Gouache paint, pencil for sharp detail. 42 x 24.7 cm.
The North Halifax Grammar School
This photo is of my dad sat in his chair watching TV whilst the room was being redecorated. I took it as part of a project looking at ‘The Detail’ one of Szarkowski’s headings.
It is a literal representation of life in his shoes, the photo was actually taken to show an insight into his life, the casual clothes, relaxed posture and blank expression say a lot about him as a person as well as the fact that he is sat watching television in a partially decorated room. Although I know that this is how he likes to be and has the opportunity to be sat in a very nice and fully finished room, to an observer it may appear that his quality of life is relatively poor which shows that different people enjoy different things..
Photography. 27 x 27 x 22 cm.
Nathalie Soo,Majestic Landscape.
This painting captures a glimpse of the the lush landscapes in Mauritius inspired by a visit there a couple of years ago. I wanted to create an experience for the viewer, removing myself as an artist from the traditional and orthodox approaches to landscape painting.
Every colour and every stroke reflects a different emotion, holding a strong connotation and connection to the scape. It was extremely important for me to encompass, as well as put in visual form, the different smells, tastes, colours and sounds from my surreal experience.
I was thoroughly inspired by Conceptual French artist, Stephane Calais. After seeing his work at an exhibition in Paris, I felt, similar to Calais, an impulse to paint figuratively. By mixing different colours directly on the canvas and allowing the paint to drip down naturally, I was able to form the foundations of the scenery. By creating a gradient across the canvas from selection of colours, I was able to control the entire tone and mood within my painting. From a brave selection of colour, to the application of it, I was able to add a sense of continuity and liveliness to my work, creating my very own ‘Majestic’ landscape..
Oil, acrylic, canvas. 175 x 185 x 0.2 cm.
Jorge Osborne,Renewable Energy - Hollingdean Materials Recovery Facility.
Sussex Downs College Lewes Campus
This image is one of the series that I created trying to get more people to help their local environments. I documented how my cities general wastage is managed, with hopes to invoke a change in my audiences. I gained inspiration from the photojournalist Rodney Dekker and the environmental documentary organisation Fotodocument..
Bryn Davies,Mother and Son.
Dame Alice Owen’s School
After spending 3 days exploring Madrid, on a school study trip, I arrived home feeling thoroughly inspired by the many galleries, architectural gems and the city overall. I thought it fitting to paint a portrait, as that was what I was developing in my sketchbook at the time, though I was finding it difficult to decide in which style I would paint, as I had experimented with many different styles. I decided to continue painting in a representational style, much like another of my pieces, though unlike the other piece I wanted to incorporate two figures.
The main idea behind this piece is that I believe in order for a portrait to be interesting one does not have to force the subject into reenacting a false emotion to create impact. I think that the face itself is striking enough and and that when not forcing an emotion it creates depth and draws you in..
Oil on canvas paper. 50 x 68 x 0.1 cm.
The truncated square which repeats itself in this work came from a set of steps I saw in Venice, designed by Carlo Scarpa. After experimenting with different combinations, I decided the piece needed volume. Richard Deacon’s work inspired me to hollow out the middle of each square to try and create a cavity. The success, however, is more about the emergence of negative space between the lines..
Black acrylic. 25 x 7 x 5 cm.
Charley Warder,Untitled Anxiety (car park).
The Thomas Hardye School
Part of a project where I looked at my own anxieties, the photograph explores my worries in certain environments. I attempt to keep the story open. What the viewer brings to the photograph is as important as what I present. Life is not about the answers but the questions, so this photograph does not present any answers, but creates more questions. While I present the framework for the story, it is the viewer that must complete it..
Photograph (digital scan).
Adam Britnell,Functions of a Hand.
Brighton and Hove Sixth Form College
This work was inspired by the different functions of a hand and forms they produce. My main source of inspiration was the works of Henry Moore. The piece demonstrates the negative space produced by functions of the hand- squeeze, hold and caress..
MDF plinth, clay forms. 80 x 40 x 25 cm.
Alice Bello,The Dead Boy.
Lady Margaret School
Why does society have a negative attitude towards death? Does art help society confront this taboo or is it disrespectful to portray death in art work? Does it feel intrusive to view the portrayal of a dead person?
We will all die and death is something everyone will have to think about and question at some point in their life. Death is considered as a very negative ordeal, is it possible to show it in a less negative light? I was inspired by the collaborative art work of Walter Schels and Beate Lakotta who created a sombre-but at the same time beautifully poignant-series of portraits: Life Before Death..
Oil paint on calico. 180 x 135 cm.
Daniel Banks,Construction Two.
I have always been into the medium of sculpture but when I came across the artist Janet Nathan. Janet Nathan is a sculptural artist that uses found materials to create sculptures of scenes she has seen. Janet Nathan’s materials are sourced from the area that she portrays in her pieces. The idea of using found materials was a new concept for me but a concept that I wanted to explore further.
I am also drawn to the work of Kurt Schwitters. He is able to make different materials connect to each other. The idea of different pieces connecting with each other appeals to me and is something I like to explore. This piece came from a two piece series that also focused on the idea of this found bench as a starting point. The two pieces didn’t look great on their own but once I had combined them, then the piece started to look interesting. The relationship between the old materials and the up-cycled materials flowed better. There were certain lines that were starting to be created within the negative space. This is what I wanted to piece to do..
Wood and acrylic paints. 80 x 100 x 12 cm.
This was my attempt at land art at west wittering beach, large scale work that focuses on making nature a part of the piece to (often ironically) dissociate art from the gallery space. This is also helped by its temporal nature, something I wanted to focus on. This particular piece was inspired by the work of Jim Denevan who also uses drawing in sand and textures created by it on a huge scale as a hobby. There is certainly something interesting about working for many hours and watching as it all reversed by nature in an instant..
Sand. 3000 x 2000 cm.
Olivia Storey,American Hedonists.
The painting American Gothic by Grant Wood has always interested me as I always had lots of questions about the work like: Who are the people? Where are they? Why do they look so sombre? Are they married? How are they related? Therefore, when presented with the theme of Identity and the challenge of recreating a well known painting, I decided to take the opportunity to impose my own identity on this piece. My passion aside from art is: freeskiing, which involves risk-taking, creativity and a certain hedonistic quality in a person.
The stark contrast between the worlds of the farmer and his daughter in Wood’s painting, and those of the vibrant and crazy world of freeskiing appeared to be the perfect contrast which might have been mad enough to work. It is no secret that ‘American Gothic’ is one of the most parodied paintings in the world, but I have never been a person that has overtly tried to be different, just for the sake of being different. Personally I feel proud of this piece as it indirectly shows a part of me and above all, it was fun to paint and I believe it is quite fun to look at too..
Oil, canvas. 59 x 84 cm.
Peter Chownsmith,Barber Shop: New York.
I came across this idiosyncratic and slightly manic barber’s shop whilst exploring the streets of outer Manhattan. I captured this image of my friend, caught in the mirror, as it reminded me immediately of Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, and has an intangible link to the city in which it was taken. The subject’s reflection is contrasted with all the newspaper clippings, faces, postcards and photos that litter the wall and through this the identity of the reflection is questioned..
Pencil on paper. 177 x 105 x 0.05 cm.
For my A-level coursework I was producing work based on the theme of ‘Magnification’. For my final piece I decided to produce a large scale oil painting of my grandfather. Having never used oils before on this scale I was really pleased with the end result..
Oil on canvas. 100 x 125 cm.
Le Gia Linh Tran,Pagoda 5.
Cambridge Tutors College
This piece was from a series that looked at the juxtaposition of modern architecture with the vernacular of my home country, Vietnam. I tried to reflect on the modernist buildings by using the hard linear style of early modernism, developing the shapes from the tiled roofs of pagodas..
Acrylic on canvas. 80 x 110 cm.
Lee Simmonds,A domesticated official.
I am consistently looking for different ways to comment on the human form. I play on our inherent narcissism through depicting subjects in the most realistic and characteristic manners I can manage through paint, hoping to strike a chord in the viewer; enabling the more conceptual message I am trying to get across even more effective. I draw a lot of inspiration from modern fragment artists who feature extreme elements of juxtaposition with photorealism and areas of minimalism, or even stark outlines, giving the work a striking and contemporary aesthetic.
Having studied the Dada period for my coursework project, I looked at some German artists who were more violently and directly impacted by the harrowing and haunting events of WW1. George Grosz was my main artist of focus, a satirist and illustrationist who delighted in virulently tarnishing the reputation of the corrupt aristocracy in Germany at that time. He often used obesity and straight line to symbolise both the greed and societal restriction imposed by those in power, as well as other elements of grotesque symbolism.
My dad, for me, constitutes a man in a position of power: a director of his own business, and therefore has a strong influence on his employees and local community. Through putting him in his office, clothed in a contrastingly flamboyant dressing gown against a blank whiteboard, I thought somewhat mocked his authoritativeness.
Furthermore, for our school exhibition, I left out post-it notes and a marker pen, so people could further interact with the scene and place on some of their own comments. This was like extending Grosz’s ideology; in a slightly less extreme way, letting the ‘working class’ have their say on the controlling ‘bourgeoisie’..
Oil on canvas, Post-it notes, pencil. 122 x 76 cm.
Ellen Paig Leach,Light.
Consumed by wanderlust..
Sonya Falkovskaia,Nature in Architecture.
I wanted to represent nature’s power to break through the constraints of man-made structures. I was inspired primarily by rice terraces and ‘Baitogogo’; by Henrique Oliveira. The seamless contours and organic shapes inspired me to look to the beauty and unpredictability of nature. From ‘9;Baitogogo’, I was especially inspired by the juxtaposition between nature and industry.
I decided to use architecture’s iconic pillar form as a representation of rigidity whilst cutting into the paper to represent nature’s force to break through the structure so a shape hidden within is revealed. So ultimately the initial shape is retained but in conjunction with nature it becomes a more diverse and unpredictable form..
Paper. 30 x 80 x 30 cm.
Beni Barsley-Masina,Meat the Butcher.
The Tiffin Girls’ School
Exploring the theme of figure in an interior/exterior I was consistently drawn to the idea of the interior of the figure and with that came my interest in meat. We all consist of muscle and blood and fat, but as a society we have almost become desensitised to the idea that meat is animal flesh.
Taking a trip to the local butcher I photographed this butcher and I really liked the combination of the raw meat and his action of cutting into it. I have always found that raw meat looks appealing to me, with it’s marbling and textures and so I wanted to capture this as well as the figure at work..
Oil on canvas. 180 x 220 cm.
Rosie Anna Callanan,Girl and Her Mother.
Lady Margaret School
This painting is a development on a collage that I had created which combined the countenances of my mother, as a young woman, and me as a small child. I used my fascination with collage to explore how using multiple images could better portray a person than the use of one sole image.
I was inspired by the works of John Stezaker and Odires Mlaszho when composing a number 0f collages. My admiration for the works of Stezaker, Mlaszho and also the works of Melinda Gibson and Julie Cockburn influenced me to develop an obsession with the idea that you can take something banal and old and convert it into something intriguing; breathing new life and purpose into it through the use of collage.
To create the collages I used old family photographs, hence why this painting details my mother and I when we were each much younger than we are now..
Oil paint on canvas. 130 x 80 x 4 cm.
Gregor Petrikovic, Insomniac, Film
New Hall School
This film is mostly inspired by the work of Darren Aronofsky whose elements can be seen especially in the subjective point of view shots and exaggerated sound design to emphasise the situation.
Unnerving (height),Errin Gall.
I was inspired by the new bridges being constructed near my house. The quiet, stillness that surrounded the site when there was no one working was unsettling and mysterious. This seemed to fit in with the theme I have been exploring..
Photography. 14.88 x 28.12 cm.
Deanna Middleton,The Modern Pieta.
Gumley House Convent School FCJ
This piece of work marries modern life with a classical style and meaning. I became interested in religion in art after viewing Michael Landy’s exhibition ‘Saints Alive’, he took classical paintings and reinvented them in a way that modern viewers would find interesting, this is same concept behind by work. I have taken inspiration from the Pieta sculpture by Michelangelo, using a similar composition and scene, but I have brought it forward to modern times, and what that situation would be like today.
Mary is depicted in a hoodie and school shirt as I have decided to play with time as I wanted to show Mary at the time of the immaculate conception as in today’s society she would be viewed as a teenage mum. Jesus is depicted slightly older where his death could have been from a stabbing. The green background is inspired by Da Vinci’s cartoons to give an old and almost decaying effect to remind us that this is a scene from the past whereas the technique is inspired by the contemporary artist Kelvin Okafor..
Powdered graphite, charcoal, paper. 110 x 150 cm.
Samuel Murray,The Goal is Minimalism.
Newton Abbot College
In this piece I was trying to show the world in the simplest of lights, just a collection of blocks, lines and textures to create a minimalistic picture..
Niko Mirosevic-Sorgo,Creator and Creation.
St Benedict’s School
This piece explores the relationship between the creator and their creation. A topic usually reserved for religious painting, this piece recontextualises this link but through the lens of 21st century consumerism. Here Ray Kroc, the creator of the McDonald’s franchise is immortalised in this portrait painted not with oils or acrylics, but lard, the base ingredient of the iconic Big Mac..
Nathalie Soo,Dvorets (Palace).
I wanted to recreate the scene of the Peterhof Palace in St Petersburg after my cultural excursion to Russia. The palace in my eyes, had the most beautiful architecture, which motivated me even more to embrace it through artistic form. Learning about the importance of perspective in Renaissance art played a key role in my selection of composition. Inspired by Julie Mehretu’s large scale mixed media works, I wanted to attain a similar sense of controlled chaos, but with my own ownership and style.
By laying down a brief and basic foundation of the scene using graphite, I added little slivers of colour as a simple suggestion of the environment I was in. This was purposely done to compensate the figurative and emotional mark makings layered above, which was important in creating an energy as well as a sensation of distortion for the viewer. Finally, I added elements of detail in specific sections as a way of exposing the patterns and shapes seen in the palace itself..
Graphite, charcoal, acrylic, ink, fine liner, paper. 180 x 140 x 0.2 cm.
Emma Jemson,Self Portrait.
The Grey Coat Hospital
I began this project - entitled ‘Hair and Portraiture’; - by exploring the idea of hair being used as an expression of identity. I have cut, shaved and dyed my hair countless times over the past few years, to colours varying from oranges and reds, to blues, pinks and greens, my hair becoming somewhat of an identifier for me. So, naturally, I was very inspired by the project’s title.
Following on from looking at hair as a form of self expression, I explored the idea of taking away the hair in order to express a lack of identity; a fresh start, a new beginning. I was influenced by artists such as Okhai Ojeikere and Patrick Madigan who used hair instead of people’s faces in their portraits. Their work really interested me, particularly Madigan ‘Twisted’ series, in which he manipulates photographs so that the backs of people’s heads (and, consequently, their hair) are placed where their faces would normally be.
I filmed myself shaving my head, taking screen caps to document the liberating process, and embroidered into these with synthetic hair to incorporate the use of hair in my work and emphasise the change made when taking away my hair. I then took scans of my images to flatten the hair into the photographs, giving them a more pleasing aesthetic..