I am very sad to hear that Art History A-level is to be axed in England. It is already impossible to study Art History as a stand-alone subject for Scottish Highers, I believe. I never studied Fine Art, but Art History A-level was a lifeline for me at school, complementing and extending the other subjects I studied (English and French). I took it against the wishes of my father, who thought it was a soft option and would make me unemployable, but in fact it set me on a career path to university and beyond. More than that, though, Art History A-level taught me to think, to be curious, to take risks and to try things out. Helping me realise that complex ideas could be expressed visually, it opened up a whole new way of thinking about and understanding the world and myself within it. I’m sad that young people won’t get that any more – they will be the poorer for it, and so will the world.
As a professional working in the world of art, I regret that ours is seen as a field that is less worthy of study than others. But mostly I regret that young people will no longer have the option to formulate ideas in the context of the visual, to understand art as a powerful context for thinking things through.
Fiona Bradley, Director, The Fruitmarket Gallery