As the nation plunged into the national lockdown, Head of English, Mr Kelway and Head of Art, Mrs Burrett developed positive ways to keep our pupils and their families in high spirits. Despite the challenges the Covid-19 pandemic has presented, our community spirit has never been stronger. During the intense inaugural few months of lockdown the English and Art Departments developed a competition to encourage creativity amongst the chaos.

With many of our normal ‘freedoms’ removed under lockdown, and aware of how creativity and the arts can enrich our lives in the most challenging of times, we asked our pupils, their families, staff and alumni to think about the concept of freedom. The creative competitions sparked an outpouring of thoughtful reflections on what freedom means to each of us.

Individuals were able to enter a written piece of up to 1,000 words in any style and format, and/or a piece of art also with the option to use any materials and medium they wished.

The entries received showcased a huge array of artistic talents and a love of literature. Mr Kelway and Mrs Burrett had the difficult job of choosing a winner and runner up for each category. We are delighted to showcase some of the winning pieces below. We will be publishing a booklet later this term containing the entries to celebrate the fantastic work of our community.

Creative Writing Competition Winners

We hope you will enjoy reading the pieces above. These can also be found in the latest version of The Johnian, and will be included in the Freedom competition booklet later this year.

Jessica Brentnall (Upper Third, 2019-20)
Feedback from Mr Kelway: ‘I particularly enjoyed how you found such depth in such an every-day event such as selecting what to wear. This was really engaging because you delved into the character’s complex psychology, yet used a moment that many readers will be able to relate to.’

Ollie Smith (Fifth Form, 2019-20)
‘My inspiration came from reading ‘The Wooden Horse’, a true story of an escape from Stalag Luft prison camp in WW2 and the preservation of humanity and genuine connection between the inmates despite the situation. I also have family who live up in the Highlands so the idea of sheer unadulterated freedom comes from personal experiences in those visits.’

Emilie Norris (Lower Sixth, 2019-20)
‘I was inspired to write this piece of writing after the fairy tales I used to read when I was younger. I also really like reading books with an ambiguous meaning, so I took inspiration from there as well.’

Annabel Moore, Parent
‘Initially, I struggled with the idea of ‘Freedom’ as a theme; it’s such a broad offering. However, given we were all locked down, it seemed an appealing concept to explore, and I wanted to challenge this idea that people currently were not free, as well as the idea that we in turn constrain nature constantly.’

Art Competition Winners

Runner Up – Oliver Savage (Upper Third, 2019-20)
In my opinion, flying is the ultimate freedom. I think that lockdown has been hard for all the children around the world, it limited our freedom, we couldn’t meet up with our friends, couldn’t go to the cinema, travel or play sports. In preparation for the Freedom Art competition, I imagined what the end of lockdown would mean to me and my friends and I painted wings on St John’s pupil.’

Winner – Annabel Price (Upper Third, 2019-20)
‘The puppets are setting themselves free so that they can be in control of their own emotions and feelings. By cutting their strings, they are relieving themselves from the masters control. This allows them to live their own lives. This is freedom.’

Winner – William Loth (Fourth Form, 2019-20)
‘I chose to paint Harriet Tubman after watching a film about her life. Harriet Tubman was responsible for freeing over 800 slaves in the southern states of America in the late 1800’s. I therefore thought that she would be the perfect person to paint for this project.’

Winner – Natalie Price, Parent
‘Freedom’ is exploring the local landscape after lockdown and seeing what could have otherwise have gone unnoticed.’