Students from the Professional Practice And Academic Portfolio Course (PPA) held their final exhibition earlier this month, with themes focusing on time, memory and family history, self-portraiture, fashion and performance, street portraits, appropriation and collage, repetition and taxonomy. Speaking about the course, tutor Kathryn Faulkner said:
The PPA is targeted at anyone who is passionate about Photography and is keen to learn more skills and develop their thinking around what and why they make photographs. There is no limit to age or experience but we are looking for well-motivated and engaged students who will work well together. The course is divided into two stages. After set assignments in Stage 1, the students develop a self-initiated project during Stage 2 and this is presented publicly in a Final Show at the end of the course. In this year’s final exhibition everyone made a highly individual and personal body of work. There is no house style and the purpose of the course is to help students identify what is most important to them. Students leave with a workbook, an essay, a new portfolio of work and some make artists books. Hopefully they leave with a new found confidence in speaking about their work too.”
Speaking about his experience on the course, PPA Graduate Charlie Gao cited the experience as being “rigorous as well as challenging your own creativity”.
“Being able to critique and see the flaws of your own work is something that develops over time, and I think important to making further advancements as an artist. Being able to develop my own work and photographic identity whilst surrounded by a group of peers with diverse photographic practices, bouncing ideas off each other, being creative, trying new things, working across different mediums – still, moving image, analogue, digital. This course has the potential to give you the practical skills and confidence to practise photography in any context and to the highest level, whether professionally or academically on an MA course.”
Whilst fellow PPA graduate Zhen Lin spoke of the experience as being “inspirational, practical, and mind-consuming”.
I was invited to write three chapters / workshops for a new book, Creative Sketching Workshop, by Pete Scully, published in October. It is a great new book of 20 workshops packed with different exercises to try out.
Set Design for Performance tutor, Gary Thorne studied Fine Art at Byam Shaw, theatre design with Motley and completed an MA in Public Art with UEL. He has worked as a freelance set and costume designer for over twenty years, is the author of ‘Stage Design: A Practical Guide’, ‘Designing Stage Costumes: A Practical Guide’, and ‘Technical Drawing for Stage Design’, and is currently Head of Design at RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art). We chat to Gary about his Short Course, Set Design for Performance, breaking into the industry and how to stay inspired.
Who is your course targeted at and what should students expect to leave with by the end of their course?
This course encourages each learner to transfer personal skill to the interpretation of a given text for performance. Personal interpretation is supported by previous experience and the way one perceives the world. Studio work calls for evidence of analysis, contextualisation and research, exploration in 2D and 3D. Scale modelling promotes design ideas taking shape, and in time individuals find meaning, reasoning, and a rationale, where design serves a purpose. The course end portfolio reflects invested interest in the process of anticipating a performance. Student prior experiences need not be theatre related. The play text will inspire and provoke creativity, the class structure keeps the learner working to meet production demands, and through hands-on exploration and problem solving the learner finds their creative expression.
How did you become a Set Designer and what is your advice for anyone wanting a career in Set Design?
After 5 years of passionate interest in fine art, I chanced upon the Motley Theatre Design Course, which was a one year postgraduate standard course, run by Motley designers Percy Harris and Elizabeth Montgomery. The shift from solo studio work to collaboration was a brilliant move, in that sharing creative ideas meant broader horizons for me. I soon discovered stage designers have varied educational experiences, and this directly affected their sensibilities. And in watching performance you soon appreciate the expression and diversity which individuals bring to their creative team. The short courses have proved highly supportive to those building a design portfolio for either undergraduate or MA course entry. Yet individuals also use the structured processing, as taught, to begin designing for the fringe and within short films. Helping out at any level backstage is important, as the experience provides insight to the roles and responsibilities, to how people communicate, and to what working to a deadline is really like.
Where do you get the inspiration from and how do you stay inspired?
The playwright is of great inspiration. When characters are analysed through the language they chose within situations they find themselves in, great truths can be revealed. Character relationships are fascinating, as they provoke, challenge, entertain, alienate, bring tears and laughter. Rereading the play text, across pre-production, is an endless search to construct meaning. And when the actors arrive further depths are explored and discovered. Every play is a whole new world for the designer to comprehend, and each new creative team you find yourself in delivers up new exciting challenges. Really everything is a problem from the start; the play because its only words on a page, the team because you have no common language yet, the budget of course, the venue, the time frame to produce it, and of course the audience is hard to anticipate. Yet if you like problem solving, and love story telling, then you could be very inspired
Reportage Photography tutor Karl Grupe, led his recent Autumn Term course students into a wonderful end of course Exhibition named Documents, allowing students to present and discuss their work with an audience. Invited guests were presented with a series of personal photographic essays exploring the relationship between teen self-esteem and dress code, the hidden costs of eco-travel, a London portrait as seen through an immigrant’s eyes, a lyrical look at litter and common spaces, environmental portraits of a ‘border’ block on the edge of The City, a typological diary on recycling, the overlooked and unseen of Camden and a portrait of a Thai boxing gym and it’s athletes. Hailed as a “huge success”, by course leader Karl Grupe, the Q&A style exhibition invited crits and comments from invited guests, thus allowing the students to receive valuable critical analysis. Karl Grupe talks at length in his blog about the benefits of this type of exhibition, “more a student engages in the practice of presentation the more they evolve in terms of developing the finer points behind the understanding of their own work and process.” See Karl’s full review of the exhibition over on his blog. Our next Reportage Photography course will start in April, with further dates in summer. Full information over on our Short Course website.
I recently accepted a place on the BA Theatre & Screen: Costume Interpretation course at Wimbledon College of Arts. Being a medical doctor, I don’t have any art background, nor have I done a Foundation course, so I chose Fashion Drawing for Absolute Beginners to prepare me for starting my BA, as fashion drawing is my weakest skill. The pace of the course was perfect as we started with the basics, helping us to gain the confidence to move on to more difficult drawing gradually. This way of teaching helped me to improve without realising and the on-going feedback helped us to learn from our mistakes effectively. The diversity of the class further enhanced my experience at Central Saint Martins as the different ages, skills, expectations and backgrounds in our cohort created a very open minded learning environment.
I chose to study this course as I love fashion and therefore wanted to study something fashion related. Also, in Hong Kong where I’m from, it is difficult to find a real, traditional and talented haute couture embroidery teacher. Luckily I found that teacher at Central Saint Martins Short courses. The learning environment at Central Saint Martins was fantastic and I’ve left the course with many haute couture embroidery techniques.
I am studying Fashion already in Italy but I wanted to see the differences in teaching between Italy and London. London is a very inspiring city to study in as there are such an eclectic mix of styles to see all around you. I’ve learned so much from this course and I want to return next summer to try out a tailoring or design course.
What’s your name and where do you come from?
Nur and I live between Malaysia and England.
You are studying Service Design this week, what made you choose this course?
I was involved in a project that delivers services to both supplier and clients, so this course was perfect for me. Service Design is a very fun and interactive course with a good balance between group activities and personal presentations. We learned numerous service design tools such as persona profiles and user journeys which will support me in my job. I am so happy to have found this type of course at Central Saint Martins, as I thought they only taught art and fashion. Thankfully I was wrong.
As I am a Freelance Fashion Designer and Consultant, I wanted to learn more about the fashion business to help with the launch of my own brand next year, so this course was the perfect choice for me. I’ve learned so much about how a commercial collection works and all the steps we need to develop it. Most importantly I’ve learned the importance of being creative without forgetting about the consumer who ultimately will lead your brand. Previous to this course I studied Fashion Business Practice and Fashion Styling for Beginners and I wouldn’t hesitate to study another short course in future. I couldn’t be happier studying here at Central Saint Martins.
I heard about these courses on Facebook and as I’ve been thinking about changing my career, I thought that studying some Short Courses at Central Saint Martins would be a good place to start. Alexis Panayiotou has been an amazing and inspirational tutor and studying in the Granary Square building has been an inspiration in itself. I feel like my drawing skills have developed quickly over these past few weeks and I’m happy that I can now draw without looking at the paper! I hope to study more Short Courses at Central Saint Martins next summer.
I want to be able to photograph the clothing I make in an interesting and beautiful way. Taking this course has taught me how to use my camera to its full potential and I’ve particularly enjoyed learning how different types of light work on bone structure and faces. It has been fantastic learning from my tutor Leigh Keily, a true professional in the field and to also share ideas with fellow students who bring different styles and perspectives to the assignments. London is an amazing city to study in with its wide variety of cultures, art and food, it is easy to take inspiration from everywhere. It feels like the city was built for creativity.
What’s your name and where do you come from?
Simian, I’m from China but currently living in London.
We have learned about the business side of the fashion industry and how to plan a fashion shoot from scratch. This means considering everything from catering, to the weather, to basically everything! Our tutor Schelay McCarter is so well prepared, provides great guidance, and her advice on how to survive in the industry has been invaluable. The Central Saint Martins building is breath taking and taking Short Courses that support my full time BA study at London College of Fashion has been such a wise choice. I hope to take more and perhaps take an MA at Central Saint Martins in the future. In London there is always something new to experience, be it a new bar, new exhibition, new restaurant, new event and I love that the city continues to surprise me.