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National Portrait Gallery

NPG_1On Thursday the 17th of March, the entire Octagon Academic Society from Kingham Hill School went on a trip to London to the National Portrait Gallery in order to visit a specialist photographic exhibition by Hoppé.

After a surprisingly short bus ride into London, everybody disembarked to stretch their legs and have some lunch. We had this in Trafalgar square, sitting on Admiral Nelson’s plinth watching the Olympic clock count down.

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For anybody who was interested, Mr Eyles had produced a “Trafalgar Square” quiz which the juniors took very seriously, but the seniors decided that they would rather buy food in the numerous cafes surrounding us and drink coffee whilst soaking up the vibrant atmosphere of our nations’ Capital city.

By the time we had officially diagnosed ourselves as “cold” it was time to go to the National Portrait Gallery.

NPG_1E.O. Hoppé (1878–1972) was one of the most influential photographers of the first half of the twentieth century. With a knack for conveying the personality of his sitters and an unflinching eye for composition, he was among the most sought-after celebrity portraitists of his day, becoming as famous as the people he photographed.’

The exhibition revealed previously unseen works and is the first to combine Hoppé’s extraordinary photographs of the famous with those he made outside the studio, in the street.

Before we entered the gallery Mr Stannard proposed a competition in which we could choose a particular picture that we liked and either write a poem, a narrative or to redraw the picture, the winner will get a box of chocolates! Once again, this appealed especially to the juniors and I feel that it successfully increased the levels of interest from them.


The exhibition was very interesting and some of the pictures were inspiring. School children singing at Chapel or exercising in school grounds, officers from Sandhurst on drill were set beside images of the famous including a future King and Queen of England, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the boy who inspired ‘Peter’ from J. M Barrie’s Peter Pan. We also had time to look around the rest of the NPG and we saw some stunning contemporary portraits of Dame Judy Dench, Lily Allen and Princes William and Harry. We were accompanied on the trip by Miss Jervis, our Head of Art, who gave us valuable insight into much of what we saw.

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After the portraits we were allowed back to Trafalgar square to get some fresh air and buy yet more food. We saw many peculiar sights, the least of these being a man taking his pet ferrets for a walk.

As the bus pulled up, we were all waiting. The return trip was slightly longer than the outward one but we were kept entertained by the sixth form girls rousing renditions of “under the sea” and “how does she know that you love her” - they were given their just rewards as litter pickers.

The entire trip was a great day out and culturally beneficial to all whom attended. Everybody enjoyed it and I can’t wait for our next culturally educational trip next term.

It was a huge success! 

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