HAVING completed only a few paintings since she got an A in her GCSE art, Andrea Simpson now has her artwork displayed all over the school where she works.
Andrea has worked at Haslingden High School for 10 years, initially as a teaching assistant with Tor View School, which has links with the learning support department at Haslingden.
Since 2017 she has been a receptionist and office administrator and when the school was looking for artwork to brighten the corridors and echo the school’s wellbeing strategy, Andrea put paintbrush to paper.
As soon as you enter the school you are greeted with a large picture of the school’s new wellbeing badge which was designed by the Head of Visual Arts Sally Tembo and painted by Andrea.
In the dining hall Andrea’s huge Andy Warhol-style paintings of a sauce bottle, soup can, coffee and a cupcake fill the walls and along the corridors are a myriad of different subjects and styles including Harry Potter, Martin Luther King and Charlie Mackesy-style Horse quotes.
Even the new Headteacher Russell Clarke’s office has a painting by Andrea of American activist Rosa Parks with an accompanying inspirational quote on the wall.
While outside Mr Clarke has also added a carved Charlie Mackesy-style picture of a boy and a mole on a tree, emphasing that in a world where you can be anything, be kind.
Four large Back to the Future paintings adorn the walls of the school’s inclusion unit to help students with their maths while on the adjacent corridor is her painting of American poet Amanda Gorman, who delivered an impassioned poem at Joe Biden’s inauguration.
Andrea, 49, from Loveclough, said: “With the whole school approach to wellbeing, we wanted it to be a part of all aspects of school life for staff and students.
“We wanted the visual side of the school to make people think and remember to be kind to others, to build resilience and encourage everyone to look after each other.
“I have always liked art, I did GCSE art when I was at Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar School.
“I like creating things and when I am painting, I feel really relaxed and I find it very therapeutic. I am an arty person and have been knitting since I was seven and sewing since I was 12.
“It is a bit of escapism for me.”
She took up painting around five years ago and she loves overhearing the students discussing her work.
Andrea added: “When I see my art on the walls of the school it makes me feel proud and it will make students think. When I hear them talking about my work, I do a little dance in my head. I just like painting portraits and I want to get better and better.”