The history of art qualifications never did run smooth

Laura McInerney is an education journalist – now a columnist for Schools Week, she was formerly the editor for 3 years, and has written for The Guardian for 5 years. She is also a co-founder of Teacher Tapp, a daily survey of teachers’ lives, and was once taken to court by Michael Gove for asking difficult questions.

By Laura McInerney

The history of artistic endeavour is strewn with rebels who ignored their parents’ wishes. Miles Davis’s dad wanted him to become a dentist. Frida Kahlo was supposed to be a scientist. Even Shakespeare’s family tried to co-opt him into being a wool merchant.

Following a creative path requires a strong spirit, but what if it was made harder by removing artistic training opportunities and only left a path towards dentistry or science?

Quietly, for the past few years, the government has been attempting to link together national income tax records, which holds everyone’s salaries, with higher education data, captured in student loans records, and, eventually, link all this to the national pupil database, which holds school records for everyone under the age of 33.

Once complete, ministers will be able to see exactly how certain qualifications contribute to a person’s earnings such that, in future, the government could make more, ahem, ‘thrifty’ decisions about the subjects it chooses to fund within schools, colleges, and university.

If this seems terrifying, it’s worth remembering that placing a cash value on qualifications is not a new idea. Back in 2014 the Department for Education released research claiming that five GCSE pass grades, as long as the bundle included English and maths, were worth £73,000 over a lifetime compared to only passing three GCSEs. A-levels carried an additional £90,000 premium on top of that. (This is for men; women’s premiums are slightly lower.)

More recently, government research flashed the salary rates of graduates in different degree subjects across newspaper headlines. Creative arts and design students scored lowest, with an average earning of just £20,000 one year after graduation. Economics graduates, meanwhile, were raking in around £33,000. You can see why Shakespeare’s parents thought business was more lucrative!

Laura speaking at the UAL Awarding Body Annual Conference 2018

Both sets of data have some serious issues. The GCSE and A-level estimates were only based on samples taken from across the entire adult population in the Labour Force Census in the mid-2000s. Statistical jiggery-pokery means the estimates may not be way off, on average, but these figures are certainly outdated. What an adult of 60 experienced as their earning pattern throughout the late 20th century is unlikely to tell us much about what a young person today will see happen to their income over the next half a century.

Furthermore, the whole thing relied on self-reported qualifications. And while I was very keen on writing down every last GCSE when I was applying for Saturday jobs at age 16, these days I rarely list them at all. (Especially that low grade in food technology – darn you, cookery!) The researchers note this problem and admit it’s impossible to say the extent to which it messed up the figures.

Using the national pupil database in future will help as the records are better-kept, although they’re not perfect. Experts who regularly use the database for social research often complain of its holes and problems.

More problematic for the arts industry, however, is the link with tax records. Tucked away in last year’s salary research a graph shows what percentage of each subject’s graduates are self-employed. Guess who had the highest percentage? Yup, creative arts and design! And why does this matter? Because self-employed income lags in the way it shows up in tax records. While salaried income drips into the tax office’s computer database each month, the annual ‘self-assessment’ rigmarole for those who are self-employed means the data comes in later, which means that cash is missed out of the salary headlines altogether.

Here’s another headline you probably didn’t read: once you add in self-employment, then after five years, creative arts and design students have a higher employment rate than graduates in computing.

Beyond all this, some other logical points should also kick in to show that arts education can be lucrative. Last year the creative industries contributed £90bn to the economy. The 2017 Forbes list of Britain’s fastest-growing companies heavily feature advertising and media companies. Even one of the recent big political stories – Theresa May’s £995 Amanda Wakeley leather trousers – show that British fashion designers are still a hot trend!

I also understand, reader, if at this point you want me to say that creativity is about more than money. It is, of course, much more important than that. But government ministers are custodians of taxpayers cash, and so I’m happy to meet them on their own terms and live with the idea that pounds should be spent efficiently. It just doesn’t seem as if the evidence, in the end, will be on their side.

For now, however, we must wait. It may be a while before the results are fully known and widely available. In the meantime, artists everywhere will need to carry on the generations-long tradition of not giving a stuff what other people tell them they ought to do, and instead keep blowing their trumpets, or wielding their paintbrushes, regardless.

#CreativityCounts: UAL Awarding Body Annual Conference 2018

A huge thank you to everyone who attended UAL Awarding Body’s Annual Conference at Shoreditch Town Hall this year (February 2).

Photo credit: James Hopkirk

Like last year, UAL Awarding Body brought all of its subjects together first thing, before separating for subject-specific breakout sessions in the afternoon.

Delegates from Art & Design, Music, Fashion, Foundation Studies, Creative Media and Performing Arts kicked off the day with Triple Double’s Paul Jenkins – who spoke about the importance of learning to fail.

Paul was followed by Schools Week’s Laura McInerney – who discussed what the psychology of politicians means for education.

Photo credit: James Hopkirk

“Are there thousands of jobs in design? Maybe not,” asked Paul. “Are there hundreds of thousands of problems to solve? YES!”

Laura, also a columnist for The Guardian, began by pointing out that “in 73 years, not a single education secretary studied a creative subject for their degree”.

Photo credit: James Hopkirk

Next up, guests were treated to a mix of presentations and performances from the talented students at Rotherham College, Birmingham Metropolitan College, Academy of Contemporary Music, and Birmingham Metropolitan College.

Other guest speakers included Rizing Games founder Michael Warburton, graphic designer Simon Wild, Touretteshero co-founder Jess Thom, freelance makeup artist Phoebe Walters, as well as Matias Shortcook (Associate Dean, Plymouth College of Art) and Dr Amy Mallett (Cohere Professional Development), who ended the event on a high with her speech: ‘Creativity changing lives’.

Photo credit: James Hopkirk

Thanks again to all of our guest speakers. Check out the full list of speakers, students, performers and guests below.

Please click this link to view the available speaker presentations.

Note: The link and presentations will expire in one month, so please download if you want to keep them on file or view them in the future.

All

Paul Jenkins: ‘Learning to fail’

Laura McInerney: ‘The psychology of politicians – and what it means for creative education’

Dr Amy Mallett/Sarah Lewis/Ron Frost: ‘Creativity Changing Lives’

Photo credit: James Hopkirk

Art & Design

Matt Moseley: Yearly catch-up

Simon Wild: ‘Becoming the master of two worlds – using professional experience to create projects that tell stories and build journeys’

Phoebe Walters: ‘Becoming a freelance makeup artist’

Dominic Green: The student experience

Photo credit: James Hopkirk

Creative Media Production & Technology

Lucy Sankey-Warner: Yearly catch-up

Neeraj Kainth: The student experience

Michael Warburton: ‘Real-world learning – starting an educational based commercial enterprise’

Photo credit: James Hopkirk

Performing & Production Arts

Marc Mollica: Yearly catch-up

Luke Harriot: The student experience

Jess Thom: ‘Touretteshero’

Photo credit: James Hopkirk

Music Performance & Production

Andy Sankey: Yearly catch-up

Lauren Walton/Christie Norbuch: The student experience

Andy Ellis/Stuart Belsham: ‘PRSfM – how songwriters and composers get paid’

Photo credit: James Hopkirk

Fashion Business & Retail

Justine Head: Yearly catch-up

Katie Williams: FBR delivery

Nikita Agapovaite: The student experience

Paul Jenkins: ‘Designing a new fashion store, from the shoebox up’

Photo credit: James Hopkirk

Foundation Studies (FAD)

Sue Cook: Yearly catch-up

Suzanne Archer: ‘Thinking for the future’

Matias Shortcook: ‘The character project’

There’s nothing soft about ‘soft skills’

Respect, Responsibility and Grit are all valuable skills within both creative education and the workplace. Matias Shortcook, Associate Dean at Plymouth College of Art, shares his thoughts about the role of ‘soft skills’, giving a glimpse into Plymouth’s implementation of the Character Project

Like so many colleges, in recent years we’ve seen a rise in the number of students coming to us with mental health struggles, personal issues and increased levels of anxiety, all of which impact on their ability to learn.

In light of this, a lot of our curriculum planning sessions start with the same question. While we’re planning links to industry, live briefs, and opportunities for students to set themselves up as professional practitioners in their fields, how can we make sure that the students are equipped to take advantage of these opportunities?

I’m sure that many of us feel that a growing part of our job as educators is to address the wellbeing of students, before we can even get to the creative education.

And I’m sure that we have all had, to lesser or greater extents, concerns when we wave goodbye to those students, hoping that we’ve helped them to develop the resilience to weather the challenges that lie ahead.

At Plymouth College of Art we have taken the position that it is not who you are, but what you do that defines you. We have expanded our crafts provision whilst others have closed theirs, and we continue to build on our heritage of making, through investments in cutting-edge technology such as Fab Lab Plymouth, as well as retaining traditional skills by rescuing antique wallpaper presses and letterpress sets.

Making is in our blood and central to what we do. But to develop intimacy in these practices and to use them to be successful in the creative industries, we recognise that you need a range of other skill bases, other than the technical.

With this need in mind, we asked what would happen if our students, our lecturers and our environment focused on soft skills, first and foremost? How would this change what they saw as possible in their creative practices?

Talking with my subject leads, we identified very similar values across our five Extended Diploma courses, Foundation Diploma in Art & Design, and GCSEs. These values were distilled into six areas which are Respect, Communication, Responsibility, Wellbeing, People and Grit.

I don’t want to pretend that we’re the first to do this.  We’re not even second, third or fourth in the pursuit of these important areas of learning. Across all the sectors, not just our own, people have recognised time and again the importance of developing a broad range of skills, alongside technical understanding. This was reflected in the STEPS (no, not the band) project, which was set up as a college partnership with eight institutions from across Europe in 2015 to research the nature, importance and need for ‘soft skills’ within the workplace.

Angela Duckworth in her study of ‘Grit’ laid out persuasive research, which demonstrated across different sectors of society that ‘grit rather than intelligence’, was the key factor in the success of an individual. Take a moment to review her work and the ‘Grit Scale’, which is super interesting stuff!

It’s also worth looking at K.I.P.P. schools in the USA, which have a well-established model, setting down a range of character strengths that demonstrate high impact on student success, across a wide range of socio-economic areas.

Based on our research, we had agreed how to organise these values and the next step was to agree on what the best outcome for each of these character values would look like at the end of our courses. We then mapped what these values would look like at the end of every stage, establishing the learning outcomes, or competency, for each assessment point of our courses. This has enabled us to create a system, now in its second year, where every six weeks we assess and feed back to the students about their character alongside assessing their qualifications.

Our environment needed to also reflect the Character Project, and all activities that are planned are prioritised in terms of how this will build the character of our students. Increased group work, more critiques, more competitions, events and external partners are part of this. The benefit of this way of structuring the skills of the individual is that it also allows us to create a home for British Values, Prevent and Employability.

We called it the Character Project, because it is a project, a work-in-progress that we continue to improve and refine, to the benefit of staff and students.

This year we saw nearly 40% of students walk away with a distinction, which is nearly double what students had achieved the previous year. More importantly, 80% of our students met or exceeded the ambitious targets that we agree with them at the start of the course. So, the ‘soft skills’ that we embed with the Character Project aren’t soft, they’re anything but.

Once, when discussing this project with a colleague they pointed out that the word ‘character’ has its origins in Ancient Greek, referring to an ‘engraved mark’ and the creation of dye for the embossing of coinage. This comparison was exciting because in both cases, an external force is required to shape the outcome. Character is not something that never changes, it is something that we can help to nurture. If we can develop these character traits in the young people that we teach, then they’ll truly leave with the skills that they need to succeed in their creative futures.

Images courtesy of Plymouth College of Art

Context is creative

Using context as a creative stimulus can add depth to both academic and performance-based student projects. Richard Hooper, Senior External Moderator and Performing Arts Teacher at South Essex College explains how…

Context can be used as an extraordinary tool to expand what could be a rudimentary interpretation of a stimulus. It can be used to develop and explore the inclusion of creativity in order to make a project unique and thought provoking.

A ‘creative’ context can be used as the incentive to gather a wider breadth of information which results in a greater selection of choices that can be used to develop the final outcome of a project. Perhaps it is easier to explain through specific examples I have used in my own practice.

When working on a production of Cabaret with a company of Level 3 Performing & Production Arts learners, the Holocaust was clearly the main theme of the book. This does not necessarily mean that the persecution of the Jewish population is the only context that can be used to expand performance choices.

Thinking outside of the boundaries of the plot, and making the objective a commentary on ‘the persecution of minorities’, stimulated an investigation into wider topics. Examples of how other minority groups have been persecuted, including specific case studies, expanded the choices the performers had to work with during rehearsals. This extended context allowed the learners to investigate themes such as race, sexuality, and varying religious beliefs. The broad, thorough and detailed research that the learners completed led their performance away from an approximation of a truthful reaction into an in-depth and realistic portrayal that is supported by fact.

Regardless of the fact that this information could be used to support one word or the entire project, it engaged the performers in worlds that were beyond their present experiences and encouraged them to delve into arenas that were previously unconsidered. Using this as the stimulus resulted in performances that were beyond the realms of what they thought possible at the start of the project.

The use of an extended context also enabled the performers to solve performance problems, which they struggled with through only exploring the obvious theme of the piece. The expansion of the theme offered more choices to explore during the rehearsal process.

Another example is the extension of the theme of ‘fairy tales’, in a production of Into the Woods, into an analysis of present day family values. Through the telling of stories, the performers explored the relationships between the members of each family, which allowed them to develop their onstage interaction. With the objective of the commentary resulting in the coming together of a new family who were not blood related, the Baker, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and Jack, the cast were able to explore what is considered as a family in this day and age and how this related to their own lives.

When encouraged to include their own family tree in their supporting information for performance, the learners developed a connection with their own heritage and used this as primary research to support their performance choices. It also allowed them to evaluate their own family values which, in turn, developed their growth as a respectable and thoughtful member of society.

The use of context as a creative tool can also be carried through into academic elements of the project. In this production of Into the Woods, the learners were directed to complete their reflective journals by means of a storybook written in the third person. Writing in the third person allowed them to step outside of themselves and evaluate and analyse their contributions to the project and their own character-building in a mature and reflective manner.

The development of a fairy tale also allowed them to analyse and evaluate the source material and structure of the musical itself. The creative element of this activity resulted in good engagement with the academic work and stimulated the performers to be far more evaluative of their personal contribution to the project as a whole. The structure of telling a story became integral to their submissions. Their project proposal became the foreword for their book, each reflection became a chapter, the final evaluation became the epilogue and, of course, many books have a bibliography.

I also use the context of a project to stimulate the format in which the learners submit their work. They are encouraged to offer their work in a contextually appropriate way. This photo demonstrates the way the Cabaret company decided to submit their work through a group discussion – The flight from persecution. They also chose not to have names in the programme as victims are often anonymous – a thoughtful and touching decision.

From the start to the finish of the projects, context became the overarching motive for every activity, be it practical or academic. By using an expanded context in this way, every element of the project supported the others. Information gained in one specific activity could be transferred to other pursuits resulting in a cohesive and well considered outcome in both performance and in the academic submissions.

Images courtesy of Richard Hooper

Learning to fail

Paul Jenkins is the Founder and Creative Director at Triple Double. He’ll be speaking at the upcoming UAL Awards Body Annual Conference on 2 February 2018. As a taster of what’s to come, he’s shared his thoughts on the importance of teaching and mentoring within the design industry…

Paul Jenkins UAL Awards Body Annual Conference

I’ve always learned skills and taken experiences away from others; my friends, previous colleagues, bosses, and now as the Founder and Creative Director of Triple Double, my team and our clients. I always say that when you stop learning, it’s time to move on and that’s essentially what I did by starting my own business – after holding several full-time design positions throughout studios, agencies and in-house roles.

Triple Double helps to educate everyone we work with by teaching and mentoring – helping people to gain new skills and empower their approach to problems. Within the education sector specifically, we work across traditional institutions such as primary and secondary schools, universities and adult learning, as well as with museums, charities, cultural organisations and community initiatives to deliver projects outside of the curriculum.

I’m also a huge basketball fan, and player, and so perhaps the idea of helping others is just embedded in me, working with four other players on the court to come up with the best solution to score points for every possession, but that’s another blog post.

So as a designer, what do you do with these experiences and skills you learn along the way? A lot of designers are good at keeping things to themselves, I mean they are specialists at what they do, and they help clients with their problems in a way that no one else could. But I’m a big believer that as designers, we should be helping everyone to learn and gain the knowledge and skills we also have – at every step of the way.

This is the reason why education is the first thing as a business I tell people about. Sure, we can make things for you, solve the problems you face, but if we can help you to become better at what you do, in your every day, then you learn from that, and so do we. It’s win-win. Educating others to become better really is one of the most rewarding parts of my job, I just happen to be a designer.

So where did this interest and passion come from? Well you guessed it, my own education experience. I left school at 16 to do a BTEC at college in Design, as my teachers at school told me I’d ‘fail’ if I didn’t do A levels – even though I knew graphic design wasn’t an option at school. I then went on to study graphic design at degree level at the London College of Communication and purposely took this specific course for its optional structured year-in-industry, supported by the excellent Sarah Temple. That year out truly changed my approach to design as well as what design meant to myself – still to this day do I receive enquiries from students asking about my internships in Berlin and Tokyo.

Spending two months in Tokyo collaborating with the best boss I have ever worked under, Eric Cruz at Wieden+Kennedy, was the cherry on the top of the year (although that was experience was so much more).

After returning to London, I came to the realisation that if I wanted to progress in my design career and eventually start my own design studio (which I think will always be the biggest ongoing learning I have), then it had to be centred around helping others through design. It couldn’t be inward looking, it had to be open, honest, collaborative, empathetic to others’ needs and definitely full of opportunities to learn from. I had to seek out people and clients who also wanted to work in that exact way.

Since then myself and Triple Double have helped deliver education projects, courses, workshops and talks for the likes of The CASS, Design Museum, General Assembly, London College of Communication, National Citizen Service, Ravensbourne, Regent’s University, Saturday Club Trust, School of Communication Arts and Wellcome Collection.

We also work with the likes of Airbnb, BBC, Mercari Europe, Goodlord and Unilever on design projects, and the education simply continues here as well. What I explain to everyone is that you have to ‘learn to fail’ and what I mean by this is to try things out, get things wrong, do things quickly, iterate, experiment and most importantly, play. Design should be all of the above, but if done well, it can help others to understand and learn the true value and power that it can bring. That’s when the exciting stuff, and true learning starts to happen…

So, why am I writing all of this? Well I’ll be speaking at the UAL Awarding Body conference in February 2018 so firstly, I’d love to find out why you help others – that’s one of the most inspiring things you can take away from someone I think. I’ll be (spoiler alert) talking about some specific projects that really have been prime win-win examples of everything I’ve explained here, including one about emojis with students in Sheffield and a project I’ve been involved with the Design Museum since its early beginnings.

For now, remember to learn to fail…

Image courtesy of Paul Jenkins

Centre-led standardisation event

On Friday 20 October, Suffolk New College’s (SNC) Media and Games team held a Centre-led standardisation event for colleges delivering the UAL Creative Media Production & Technology qualifications in the East Anglia region.

Tutors and department heads from City College Norwich, Cambridge Regional College and the College of West Anglia spent the day with their counterparts at SNC sharing good practice, resources and ideas in what was an excellent atmosphere of collaboration and cooperation.

The event included workshops with the teams in their own pathway groups, and also more general discussions across both subject areas.

Andy Sankey, Chief Examiner for Music & Media said:
“I would like to thank and congratulate all involved in the ‘cluster’ event with a special thank you to Tim Hetherinton from Suffolk New College for organising and hosting it. Although this event was not an official UAL event, it gave centres a chance to network, share good practise and ideas. It also gave the attending centres a chance to sample and see the different level of work being created by other students and centres in their locale”

Image courtesy of Suffolk New College

2019 Performance Tables Update

We’re pleased to announce that the following qualifications have been approved for inclusion in the 2019 performance tables’ Applied General[1] category:

These qualifications contain external assessment and will be piloted by a small selection of centres from September 2017, with first assessments taking place in 2018.

All other centres, not participating in the pilot should continue to run the existing Art and Design qualifications.

For more information on these new qualifications, please view the specifications on our website: http://www.arts.ac.uk/about-ual/awarding-body/

Further information:

UCAS points
As these qualifications are included on performance tables they will gain automatic approval for UCAS points. Tariff points are usually published in May each year.

Funding
Both qualifications attract 16-19 funding and will also be eligible for Advanced Leaner Loans and Legal entitlement funding.

Talk to us
If you’d like to speak to a member of the team about any of these qualifications then please email qualdev.awarding@arts.ac.uk


[1] Applied General qualifications are rigorous advanced (level 3) qualifications that allow 16 to 19-year-old students to develop transferable knowledge and skills. They are for students who want to continue their education through applied learning. Applied General qualifications allow entry to a range of higher education courses, either by meeting the entry requirements in their own right or being accepted alongside and adding value to other qualifications at level 3 such as A levels.

 

Origins 2017 – Winners and photos


Origins 2017. Photo by Eva Clifford

This year’s Origins exhibition at the Truman Brewery on London’s Brick Lane was a great success.

The showcase included 116 pieces from 48 Centres across the country. The work, by students completing UAL Awarding Body qualifications in Art & Design and Creative Media, was chosen by curator Elliott Burns from a total of 450 submissions.

Seven students’ works were selected by our Chief Examiners for outstanding achievement, with each student receiving a prize – the list of winners can be found below.

Huge congratulations to all of the artists exhibited, we received excellent praise for the quality of the work exhibited and we wish you all the best in your creative futures.

More images can be found on the UAL Awarding Body Facebook page.

This year’s prize winners are as follows:

Level 1 Art, Design & Media – Kacey Amoo, Kensington and Chelsea College
A fantastically well developed experimental fashion piece that really showed the level attainable by Level 1 students who are challenged and supported to achieve.  What I liked about Kasey’s project was that he had not only produced great fashion outcomes, but had also realised some wonderful photographic images that wouldn’t look out of place in any contemporary fashion editorial.  His tutors said that the award will mean a great deal to him as an individual and the team who have worked with him were over the moon to see his achievements recognised – Matt Moseley, Chief Examiner.

Photograph: Tallulah Tarnowska
Make Up: Alfie Sharpe

Level 2 Art & Design – Damian Kalinski, West Suffolk College
Damian’s photographic images showed a level of maturity and sophistication that far exceeds that expected of a Level 2 student. What won me over about his submission was that not only had he proposed, shot and finished a wonderful set of images, but he had gone on to produce a ‘look book’ of images to support the project. In the pursuit of students becoming ready for industry progression and evidencing transferrable, vocational skills development, Davids piece showed a student on the cusp of a strong career in the creative industries – Matt Moseley, Chief Examiner


Level 3 Art & Design – Jordan Mortlock, Plymouth College of Art
An excellent example of the power of the narrative through the medium of photography. Jordan’s close work with the subject ‘Kevin’, Kevin’s extraordinary life, and the trust developed between the artist and subject, resulted in an impressive and moving visual story, which was a technical and conceptual triumph. The final image and the supporting journal resulted in a creative celebration and was recognised through the Level 3 Art and Design prize – Martin Vella, Chief Examiner.

Foundation Studies – Rob O’Leary, CCW Progression Centre (UAL)
Rob’s work was selected as prize-winner for a multiple of reasons. At first glance his intriguing group of sculptures appeared playful, on closer inspection, highly skillful and beautifully crafted elements were apparent, before a whole other layer revealed itself through the concept of fragile masculinity. This level of skillful manipulation challenging his chosen material to take on the most delicate forms alongside the maturity of the concept would hold its own in any degree show – Sue Cook, Chief Examiner.


Level 2 Creative Media – Malachi Groves, Fareham College
Malachi’s film was funny, professional, ambitious and thoroughly entertaining. When students take on the challenges of the Extended Project (or FMP) the attribute of most value is commitment and Malachi evidenced this in spades.  His film sees him race go karts, fly planes and swim seas in the pursuit of milk for his breakfast.  It was a great concept thoroughly realised to a very high standard – Matt Moseley, Chief Examiner

Level 3 Creative Media – Neeraj Kainth, Birmingham Met College
All the chiefs were struck by the complexity, sophistication and professionalism of Neeraj’s submission. His mastery of augmented reality in itself was impressive, his entrepreneurial ability to fund his project commendable, but it was the overall attention to aesthetic and interactivity that bowled us over.  A beautifully considered and exciting media project that wouldn’t look out of place at any BA or MA showcase. Outstanding work – Matt Moseley, Chief Examiner.

Special commendation – Level 3 Art & Design – Amelia Al-Attar, Abingdon & Witney College
Abingdon and Witney student Amelia Al-Attar was awarded a special commendation prize for her work, a set of two traditional family photo albums, at first sight identical but one where her own image had been digitally erased from every print. In addition to being a very technically sophisticated piece the judges were impressed with the alternative narratives that the work provoked in the viewer, posing questions about identity and relationships – Sarah Atkinson, Head of Academic Standards

All images by Eva Clifford. Except Malchi Groves’s still from Milk and Kacey Amoo’s photograph.

Barbican Box showcase – HOME, Manchester


Carmel College students perform at HOME, Manchester. Photo by Simon Liddiard

By Sue Cook – Chief Examiner, Foundation Studies
I recently attended the Barbican Box regional showcase (20 June 2017) and had the opportunity to witness something so creatively individual and exciting! It was in an amazing venue – HOME in Manchester is a fantastic space.

Four schools and colleges participated in the evening; two groups completing UAL qualifications from Macclesfield College and Carmel College, as well as a year 8 and year 10 group from local schools.

Two Barbican Box artist mentors worked with the groups, either visiting the Centres for full-day workshops or via skype.

To quote one of the artist mentors:
“Students all start with the same stimuli and created very different work as part of the Regional Pilot. Common to all has been enthusiasm, wit, imagination and support for each other while learning to find ways of telling stories that deal with global issues. And, being young people, they bring positive energy and play to a subject that, right now, many adults are worn down by”.

The box’s contents were incredibly relevant to what is happening now both nationally and internationally. It contained:

  • Ballot papers
  • Camcorder
  • Masks
  • Megaphone
  • Military leader’s hat
  • Newspaper
  • Spy’s umbrella
  • The Chancellor of the Exchequer’s briefcase
  • Two banners – with paint and paintbrush
  • Ziploc bag full of cash

Michelle Mahoney, course tutor at Carmel College took the very brave step to use the box as a starting point for Unit 12, and wow, was it powerful!

At Macclesfield College, it was introduced as part of an extra-curricular opportunity, which was equally challenging, creating work that was above and beyond the already-packed Level 3 Performing and Production Arts curriculum.

The students performances were incredibly personal – at times, I got goosebumps, at others my eyes were filling up – a sign indeed that these students can touch hearts and minds.

A special mention for Carmel College, their interpretation of the contents of the Barbican Box was for their Unit 12 final project, which had been translated incredibly well for a stage and audience very different to the ones they were accustomed to. The project also provided the opportunity for individuality, varied performance styles and genres, which is incredibly important for these students’ development and progression. They did an amazing job reconfiguring the piece to suit both final project and public performance.

About the Barbican Box
Barbican Box supports students and their teachers to create original theatre, music or visual arts from scratch. The programme comprises of a beautifully designed ‘Box’ of inspirational objects, curated by different world-class artists every year, along with six months of support including teacher training, mentoring from artists who deliver workshops, and tickets to performances to help inspire creativity. This regional Box was curated by leading theatre company, Complicite.

If you are interested in finding out more about the Barbican Box project please contact creative.learning@barbican.org.uk and visit barbican.org.uk/learning to find out about the Barbican’s work with schools and colleges.

Don’t miss Origins 2017!

Now in it’s seventh year, Origins is an exhibition of art, design and creative media work produced by students studying UAL Awarding Body qualifications at colleges nationwide.

Hundreds of pieces of work were submitted for consideration by the 170+ institutions that deliver our qualifications nationwide. The 117 pieces on display were selected by professional curator Elliott Burns.

For many of the students, this is the first time they have exhibited outside of a school or college environment.

This year’s exhibition will take place at The Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane as part of the established art show Free Range.

Address:
The Old Truman Brewery
91 Brick Lane
London
E1 6QR

Opening times:
Friday 7 July (10am-7pm)
Saturday 8 July (10am-7pm)
Sunday 9 July (10am-7pm)
Monday 10 July (10am-4pm)
Please go to the Brick Lane entrance.

We hope to see you there!