Bea Watts has just completed her final major project for the Foundation Diploma in Art and Design. We asked her about being on the course, what she has created and what’s next for the designer.
Please tell us a bit about your background and how you came to study the Foundation Diploma in Art and Design?
After studying Art, Design Technology, and Psychology in sixth form, I decided to do the Foundation Diploma in Art and Design to give me more experience and to develop my creative practice. I began the course still unsure of the area I wanted to specialise in, so having the chance to try a variety of art subjects was ideal for me. After looking around the Foundation Summer Show last year I saw the creative atmosphere and the range of work on display and it drew me to Camberwell.
Can you please describe your design practice:
After initially planning to study Illustration, I chose to specialise in 3D Product Design, which I found the most engaging area because of the combination of problem solving, creativity, and 3D making. Product Design is a broad area involving the creation of new products and the development of existing products, to improve an experience. My work this year has ranged from designing furniture, to exhibition spaces, and interactive community experiences.
What are you currently working on?
My Final Project is titled Teaching Attitudes through Play, which was inspired by my love of playful designs, and children’s toys. I wanted to focus on conveying a positive message about emotions after doing research on mental health, and how people often don’t seek help because of the stigma attached to conditions such as depression and anxiety. This is what led to my focus on teaching children to accept, embrace, and most importantly talk about their emotions from a young age.
I created Playing With My Emotions which are a set of toys that teaches children about emotions, for use in a nursery or school classroom environment. The set explores the emotions anger, sadness, and happiness, and provides an interactive activity for each. A set of storybooks is included alongside the toys, which give context, and allow teachers to get involved in explaining and supervising play. The toys give children the opportunity to learn about different emotions, and provide ways they can deal with how they feel.
I had a lot of fun choosing my materials; my final pieces incorporate stuffed PVC, Velcro, and bright blue faux fur, which seem to appeal to adults and children alike, since my friends in the studio seem to have adopted the blue stuffed sadness toy.
How has studying the Foundation informed or influenced your design practice?
During the Foundation course I’ve learned to take risks when developing ideas. I now consider even my more far-fetched ideas, and just go ahead and attempt making them, even if they seem like they might not work out. I’ve enjoyed making abstract models and forms to inspire design ideas, rather than meticulously planning and drawing first. Overall I think my ideas are more free and experimental.
What are you future plans?
After the final show I plan to take a holiday to Italy, to absorb the culture and the pizza. Over my summer break I will be working on an exciting commission, designing artwork for a local singer-songwriter’s new single. I’m happy to be continuing my illustrations alongside my study of design. Starting this September I will be studying Product and Furniture Design at Kingston University where I am very excited to develop and continue my design work!
Have you had any highlights while on the Foundation Course?
I’ve found that project critique days were some of the most enjoyable days of the course, because of the atmosphere of excitement and curiosity when looking at everyone’s finished outcomes. The studios are often busy and bustling with interactive activities, and it’s a very useful tool for receiving feedback on your own work. These days are always fun and inspiring, and a great way to start conversations with people about their creations.
Where is your favourite place in Camberwell/Peckham?
Frank’s on top of the multi-storey car park in Peckham is such a great bar that we all visited during our first week of the Foundation course. Not only are the views of London amazing, but also the rooftop is dotted with artworks, which makes it a very unique experience. I’d definitely recommend a visit!
Do you have an artist influence?
My final project was strongly influenced by an architectural piece Taku Tuka Land by Die Baupiloten, which combines large scale soft play with story telling, making for an innovative and playful kindergarten building. Generally anything colourful, inflatable, interactive, weird and wonderful will influence me.
Can you recommend an exhibition must-see?
There are so many pieces I could recommend from the Foundation Summer Show, but there is one installation in particular that is a must-see! Selina Tran is entirely redecorating the quiet/prayer room in the foundation building, to improve its ambience and make it into a more tranquil space, to support her project about self-care. Since she is using the entire room, it’s an immersive piece with a very interesting and personal message. Definitely try to catch this one if you visit the show.
And finally, do you have any advice to students looking to start the Foundation Diploma?
Immerse yourself in the course! Be experimental because tutors are open minded and supportive of creativity, no matter what your ideas involve. Make use of the workshops – try out casting, printmaking, and working with woods and metals because you have nothing to lose by trying out new processes.
The Foundation Diploma Summer Show 2017 finishes tomorrow Friday 12 May, drop in to see Bea’s work before the show closes!