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17th January 2022

Art Exhibition Celebrates Long-Serving Textiles Teacher

A long-serving Oakham School Textiles Teacher is celebrating 30 years of her work with a local art exhibition in preparation for her retirement. 

Wendy Greaves, who joined Oakham School in 1991, is commemorating her time at the School with a series of works which will represent what she intends to do when she retires at the end of the academic year.

The exhibition launched privately last week but is running until 7 March in the School’s Wheelhouse Gallery and is open to the public.

The theme of ‘Unravelled Journeys’ sees the exhibition illustrate where Wendy began 30 years ago and concludes with her work completed at the end of 2021.

We caught up with Wendy to talk about her exhibition, her time at Oakham School, and her plans for retirement.

What first attracted you to the School?

Coming from Liverpool, Oakham was worlds apart from where I grew up and I was very intrigued to find out more and on visiting pre interview I was taken back by its quaintness and warmth. But it was the Art and Theatre Departments that really reeled me in. The passion that the staff had for their subjects was astonishing and I was excited to be a part of that. I immediately felt at home and the staff in both departments became my extended family.

What was your first role here and is that different from your title now?

My first role was Teacher of Textiles and Wardrobe Mistress. I adored working on the School performances, but Textiles began to grow and grow. When I started at the School, I only had a small GCSE group and two A-level Textiles pupils, with one sewing machine. Now, we have three sets of GCSE students in each year and A-level numbers are very strong as are those numbers of students who go on to follow a career in art/textiles. It’s brilliant to see how much the department has grown over the years.

What are some of your favourite memories here?

There are too many to mention them all. I have been very lucky to be married and have my boys christened at the School Chapel and to see them start in Lower One and watch them thrive as they progressed through the School. I will always remember travelling across the USA with a group of students and a travelling theatre production as this was when I first realised how much Oakham has to offer students who grab the opportunities ahead of them.

I am so lucky to have worked, laughed and cried with so many very special students. The way the Oakham community can celebrate success and pull together at very sad times will forever stay with me.

Tell us about the exhibition

I am hoping it will be a celebration of 30 years at Oakham School and how my passion for teaching and exploring textiles is at the heart of all that I do.

My love of textiles stems from a desire to captivate the tactile and mesmerising qualities contained within nature and organic form. Landscapes have long been a source of inspiration for many artists, but it is within the realm of textiles that I truly believe it comes alive. My primary inspiration derives from the untamed and unregulated wildness that can be found in the Atlantic coastline. Family holidays evoke powerful memories, with my heart belonging to Sennen Cove, Priest’s Cove and St Ives in Cornwall and more recently Lynmouth in North Devon. This exhibition will illustrate where I began 30 years ago and conclude with work completed at the end of 2021.

Why do you think you’ve stayed working at Oakham School for so long?

There is an easy answer to this. The pupils! I can’t remember not enjoying each and every day in my studio or in the three Girls’ Houses that I have had the pleasure to work in. Sorry to Gunthorpe and Rushebrookes, but after over 20 years being a Tutor there, Stevens will always have a big place in my heart as it is here that my love for the pastoral side of teaching became ignited. I will miss very much the warmth, madness, randomness, and support from both the students and House staff alike.

Do you have any messages you would like to share with your pupils?

My pupils get fed up with me talking about mistakes! But here it is again…mistakes are good, you learn from them and they make you a better artist. Keep making them!

What have some of your former pupils gone on to do after School?

I have been very fortunate to see many students go on to achieve their ambitions and obtain the highest of degree places and continue to venture into the world of textiles and fashion. From being the Senior Textile Designer at Paul Smiths, producing costumes for Hollywood movies, to running their own bespoke tailoring company on Savile Row, becoming teachers themselves or running their own small textile/ fashion business, I couldn’t be prouder of my former pupils

What are your retirement plans?

We have bought an old, converted watermill in North Devon, close to the Atlantic, and it is here that I intend to live and have my studio. I aim to become a full-time artist.

What will you miss the most?

The warmth, the fun, the friends and the madness.

Find out more about Wendy’s work and Art at Oakham School.


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