Year 13 Art Student, Alicia Hackett
The Art department at SGGS is held in high-esteem by past and current students. Our alumnae includes fused glass artist Jill Bagnall, pottery painter Scarlett Young and mixed media artist Urszula Chojnacka. In our latest blog, Alicia Hackett from Year 13 shares her inspirational take on studying Art and how her passion for the subject has changed some of her perspectives on life.
Over to Alicia...
My name is Alicia and I’m in Year 13. If you don’t already know me, you may have seen me walking round school with a walking stick or running between the DT and Art rooms with various pieces of equipment. I’m also the reason there’s hazard tape on the doors leading out of Garrett by the staff room.
Something you won’t know from looking at me is that I have two different chronic disabilities: Chiari Malformation Type 1 and Fibromyalgia. To put it very simply, my brain fell out of my skull and is now happy to stay in the wrong place and my central nervous system can’t be bothered to distinguish most sensations so has decided to make ‘pain’ the default setting. For many reasons, my physical disabilities and double vision have been a barrier to my learning across most subjects.
Something to express to the world
I’ve always enjoyed Art, so taking it for GCSE was a natural decision for me. After my first GCSE lesson, I went to tell Mr Flaherty the usual dialogue I have to say to all my teachers when I first meet them - ‘hello I have double vision but I can close an eye so it won’t affect my work, I really am trying I promise’ and so on.
I still think back to this conversation now because what he said made me so genuinely happy and excited. He told me to try not closing an eye or wearing an eye patch and to try drawing things as I saw them. That I had a completely unique perspective on the world and I should take that and run with it and while I don’t know that he would even remember this exchange, hearing it meant so much to me.
For the first time, I started looking at my disabilities not as an inconvenience to my life that should be hidden, but as something to express to the world. I made my GCSE project on representing disabilities through art. It gave me the opportunity to learn about other disabled artists and know that despite how isolating having an invisible disability can feel, I wasn’t alone in my experiences.
Developing my passion for Art
When I told Mrs Hillier about my conditions and visual impairments, I was met with the same enthusiasm about how I could use them that I still receive to this day doing my art A-level. I have never met two people so supportive of my work and what I create and it’s so such a relief to have a subject where I am not held back by my disabilities at all. They have always made me feel comfortable enough to share anything with them and have helped me so much over the years, both with my schoolwork and with coping with spending so much time in and out of hospital.
Between the Art teachers, Mr Price (who lets me come into DT with a design on some scrap paper and make anything) and Allison (who is quite possibly the most skilled person I have ever met, she can do practically anything and is absolutely lovely), I have been able to create pieces I genuinely connect with and care about, building my confidence in both myself and my work.
Art is a subject where anyone can completely embrace and share their individuality in any way they like without having to worry about it being wrong or something that should be kept silent. It’s so important and the weird and wonderful things artists come up with, I believe, make the world a better and more interesting place to live in.