An Iron and a Pile of Washing: A still life IGCSE Art Exam

Last Updated on April 2, 2023

This flawless IGCSE Art exam (controlled test, CIE 0400) was completed by Tingjian He (Jim), while studying Art & Design at ACG Strathallan College, Auckland, New Zealand. The work is in response to the topic ‘An Iron with Clothes’ and was awarded Top in the World for the October 2011 examination session, gaining 100%.

A* GCSE Art exam
An enlarged detail, showing the high level of accuracy Tingjian achieves in his initial observational drawings.

Beginning with sensitive and highly accurate observational drawings, Tingjian bases his project around the beauty found in an ordinary household scene. The patterned grid of a washing basket, the coil of the iron’s cord and the piles of creased clothing are positioned in falling sunlight, creating a varied and well-balanced composition. As his project develops, his work takes on an expressive, semi-abstract quality, with Tingjian demonstrating a confidence and technical skill that is rarely seen at IGCSE level.

A* IGCSE Art exam, top of the world
100% IGCSE Art & Design exam (Controlled Test)

Students often struggle to complete their final exam piece within the allocated 8 hours. Tingjian’s submission demonstrates an excellent strategy for working around this. The final piece is completed on a pre-prepared red ground, incorporating smeared white marks (applied using a piece of card) which have evolved from the abstracted patterns of the basket. Further saving time, gestural painting techniques have been used for the basket and the iron. These provide a welcome contrast with the ‘tighter’ painting technique used in the foreground of the work and allow Tingjian to complete the final piece much more quickly than he would have, had he produced a purely representational piece.

The video below shows additional close ups and details of Tingjian’s IGCSE Art exam.

If you enjoyed this article, Tingjian’s outstanding IGCSE Coursework Project is also featured on the Student Art Guide.


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