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Announcing our new Artist in Residence

Date Posted: Wednesday 15 December 2021

Royal Academy exhibited artist Sophie Bedingham Smith, best known for her dramatic representations of the Kent landscape, is encouraging Ashford School students to develop their own artistic techniques and approaches as she works alongside them as the School’s Artist in Residence for the year.  

Sophie is well known for her unique, highly detailed, labour-intensive oil-on-canvas technique, which brings an elusive, almost three-dimensional quality to her work. She has been given a studio space in the Senior School art department and encourages students to watch her at work and to take inspiration from her enthusiasm for innovation and individuality of expression. Sophie will also be presenting a series of masterclasses, talks and exhibitions for the school community throughout the year.  

‘My practice is very much concerned with the act of painting,’ says Sophie. ‘My key methodology is the application of numerous layers, worked, reworked, removed and reapplied, exploring the possibilities of lifting the image off the surface.  

‘This is a technique I have developed myself, and I want to inspire Ashford School students to make the most of the support and the artistic freedom they have here to experiment with a variety of media and methods, step outside of their comfort zones and be adventurous as artists.’ 

Sophie will be hosting her first exhibition as the Ashford School Artist in Residence from 25 to 28 January 2022 at the St Mary’s Church in Ashford. Entitled “Good Times”, the exhibition will include Sophie’s recent paintings as well as work done by the art scholars and students at Ashford School. It will be an investigation in oil exploring our individual imagined and invented landscapes 

Now living and working in Kent, Sophie achieved a First in Fine Art from the University of Wales and went on to study at Central St Martins, London, achieving a PgDip in Drawing, PgDip in Painting and an MA in Fine Art. Since then, she has exhibited widely in the UK as well as in Canada, France and Ireland. Her work has been selected by Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin, as well as the Royal Academy, London. Most recently she exhibited at Chartham Vineyard and Rye Gallery, East Sussex. 

Sophie’s paintings are lauded for their glimpses of the essence of landscape, with hints of the hidden and disturbing beauty at the core of the subject matter. Drawing is as important to Sophie’s work as the application of paint, and composition is guided by principals of design, geometry and mathematics. A strong element of control combines movement and structure, in which elements of chance are codified.  

‘We are privileged to have such a world-class talent as Sophie working alongside our students at Ashford School,’ comments Nicole Rayner, Head of Art. ‘They will learn so much from her technique as a painter, but also as an innovator in the creative arts, who has developed her own approaches to communicating her feelings, thoughts and ideas using her chosen medium.’  

Sophie is Ashford School’s 6th Artist in Residence and takes over from ceramicist Rainna Erbas, a former contestant on Channel 4’s ‘The Great Pottery Throw Down’. The Artist in Residence programme is one strand of Ashford School’s strategy to inspire senior students to think independently, to be freely creative, and to develop key skills for success in their future education and beyond. 

For more information, please contact Nicole Rayner ( 

"The exhibition is open to the public from Tuesday 25 January to Thursday 27 January 2022 from 10:00 to 16:00, and on Friday 28 January 2022 from 10:00 to 12:00 noon at St Mary’s Church, Churchyard, Ashford, TN23 1QG. "