International Journal of Art & Design Education

Basic Design Teaching into Secondary Art Education: James Bradley at Sidcot School

Volume 12.2   1993



Cunliffe describes some of the key ideas and personalities, including Thubron, Pasmore and Hudson, of the ‘Basic Design’ movement of the 1950s and 1960s. He then provides insights into one example of the percolation of `basic design' into secondary education, and of its considerably lesser dependence on geometric form at this level of education. In the particular case-study here – that of James Bradley at Sidcot School in Somerset – an account is given of successful basic design teaching at secondary level. Here children were encouraged to invent forms and chromatic sequences from their own experiences, but subsequently to see correspondences between their inventions and properties perceptible in the world-of both natural and fabricated objects around them. Cunliffe concludes that much basic design teaching is applicable today in schools either in direct form or by absorption into new methodologies modified by the present social and political framework and that it should be possible to teach all pupils in a structured way so that success in ‘art’ does not stem from innate ability alone.