Hailsham places a great amount of emphasis onto the arts such as art, writing and other forms of creativity.
Art and being creative in general is undeniably important in determining the self-worth of a student at Hailsham. For instance, Jackie (who was famous for her giraffes) was ‘popular’ whilst Tommy, with minimal creativity, getting bullied by his peers and teachers. Ishiguro uses this to showcase how the status of a student’s life in Hailsham is revolved around their grasp in the arts.
Art, or paintings rather, are usually displayed and hung up in the homes of many. It’s always ‘watching you’, which links to the part where Kathy rants about how there is almost zero to no privacy at Hailsham. Ishiguro uses this as a way of saying that everyone is watching and listening hence there is no room for private talks what more secrecy.
Finally, art in general, is subjective. What someone may deem to be ‘amazing’ could be ‘horrible’ in another person’s eyes. It further indicates that our self-identity is extremely fragile and can turn for the better or worse when others impose judgments upon us. Every single student tries their very hardest to improve their art to have their pieces selected for ‘the gallery’ which is supposedly where the best works of Hailsham are kept and displayed. This changes the student’s perception of his or her own self-worth. For example, we have people like Susie K. and Jackie were amongst the few who were admired and awed by the students of Hailsham whereas we have people like Tommy who are looked down upon. Ishiguro uses this to indicate how the student’s constantly question themselves and their abilities – feeling superior or inferior to one another.