Royal West of England Academy: Cube Space

15 February – 1 March 2018

Private View: Thursday 15 February, 6 – 8 pm


New Wave is a touring exhibition initiated by Toni Davey RWA, supported by Contains Art and Somerset Art Works to explore the value of arts education for our economy, society, and humanity.

Each of the artworks in this exhibition at The Royal West of England Academy, Bristol, are the product of a creative professional, each a former student of Toni Davey at West Somerset Community College in Minehead, responding to Hokusai’s iconic woodcut, ‘The Great Wave of Kanagawa’, a piece that has held a personal fascination for Toni over several decades.

New Wave shows the thirst and talent for creativity with which just a few of the young people from that school emerged and headed out into the world.  But the project’s impact is much more than this. It speaks to the value of art for young people at a time when it is being stripped from the school curricu- lum. In so doing it provides a vital but uncomfortable comment on the impact of arts education—demon- strating rather than bemoaning what will be lost if the current side-lining of creative subjects from our schools is not arrested.

The exhibition was motivated by a desire to reveal the consequences of recent changes to the school curriculum with the introduction of the English Baccalaureate (EBacc), and the implications of this change for the creative subjects. By highlighting the journeys of West Somerset alumni, we draw attention to the lifeline that an art education ofered these students; a lifeline that we believe has been unwittingly jeopardised. The exhibition includes the work of 30 young people—it could have been many more—who are successfully negotiating a path for themselves at various stages in their careers.


This exhibition was first held in September 2017 at Contains Art in Watchet and was supported by Somerset Art Works.


Published on February 12, 2018 // Paul Newman