One of the main priorities for most Foundation students is to develop their work and ideas to a high enough level to be able to demonstrate their personal commitment to their chosen subject areas and that they have the potential to benefit from further courses.
Students are encouraged, as part of their own development as artists or designers, to take increasing responsibility for learning and, as the course develops, to evaluate performance (their own and that of their fellow students) in seminars, studio discussion and critiques. They are encouraged to develop their research skills, to manage technical resources and to clearly communicate ideas through writing, speech and drawing. Increasing knowledge of historical, theoretical and cultural issues provides an invaluable frame of reference in understanding and developing ideas and concepts.
Course units are designed to progressively promote personal choice and are varied in terms of size and complexity. As the course progresses, students are expected to work more independently, organise their own work and projects and present proposals to a professional level of understanding.
Students are supported throughout the course by teaching staff drawn from a variety of professional backgrounds, both in Fine Art and Design. We make sure that staff are available for consultation every day and maintain an unusually high staff/student ratio of around 1:15. There are also a range of technical support staff and facilities available throughout the school. We have also recently appointed a new dedicated Foundation technician.
The Foundation Course is designed to prepare students for progression onto degree level courses in art or design subjects. There are essentially three phases to the course that reflect this priority.
The first phase (Learning Skills and Context) is broadly 'diagnostic'.
The second phase (Development and Progression) is a 'Pathway' stage
The third phase (Proposal and Realisation) is 'Confirmatory'.
The Foundation Course is comprised of a series of units, all of which have to be passed in order to successfully complete the programme. The final unit is graded as pass, merit or distinction at the final assessment.
Upon successful completion of the course the Foundation Diploma in Art and Design, level 4 is awarded by the University of the Arts London Awarding Body, who approve our qualification.
A unit is a discrete learning component of the course which can be identified as having a particular function in relation to the programme’s overall aims. The first few units are broadly diagnostic in character and the final units are broadly confirmatory, that is, they seek to firmly establish commitment to a particular pathway and to act as a preparation for subsequent courses. Units are sequential and progressive in relation to the course objectives. An individual unit may be made up of several projects, or assignments. For instance, unit 3 (Art & Design Materials and Methods) is comprised of 5 separate projects, as well as workshops, which introduce a range of possible approaches/pathways that could be explored later in the course.
Workshop elements in the Autumn Term and beyond typically include:
• Glass – sandblasting, slumping, fusing, leading etc.
• Casting – an introduction to various casting processes, culminating in a bronze casting project in the second term.
• Printmaking – an introduction to various silk-screen processes as well as an introduction to, and continuing access to, our main print workshop, which concentrates on intaglio processes. Students can also attend the Wednesday printmaking evening class.
• Introduction to digital media.
• Film-based photography and dark room processing.
• Book-binding workshop
• Canvas stretching and preparation.
• Drawing – continuing access to the drawing studio, as well as the option to attend life drawing evening classes.
• Colour Theory – a survey of the historical development and current theories about colour including practical exercises designed to test the most important ideas.
• Research – projects that introduce approaches to research methodology and which involve study visits. An important aspect of these sessions is sketchbook and reflective journal development.
Part 1 - Learning Skills and Context
The year begins with a general introduction to Fine Art & Design that gives you a grounding in a variety of basic disciplines, starting with an introduction to a variety of approaches to drawing and a short introduction to digital media and continuing with introductions to painting, sculpture, design communication, 3D design, printmaking, art and design history and theory and research. As well as being introductory this programme is intended to help you to understand where your strengths and weaknesses lie and supply you with an experience that will help you to make decisions about progression.
As part of the diagnostic programme there will be a series of talks/presentations given by visiting artists or design professionals and also some presentations from in-house staff, both from within the Foundation course and from other departments. These talks are intended to supplement practical studio projects and provide a clearer picture of the range of progression options.
Part 2 - Development and Progression
Once you confirm your specialist pathway you will be allocated a personal working space in one of the specialist areas. This space will be the base from which you work throughout the remainder of the course although you will be able to use all of the facilities throughout the school as and when you require.
The various facilities, as well as the technical support staff, that the school has are a resource. We have:
• excellent printmaking facilities
• wood workshop
• metal workshop
• glass workshop
• plaster room
• computer room
• sewing machines
• vacuum former
• drawing studio
In addition to the computer facilities available to all students in the school there are designated computers and associated scanners, printer and graphics tablets located in the Foundation studios
Students can also attend talks given by visiting artists as part of the general Humanities programme at any time during the year.
Teaching, as well as technical support, staff will now assist you with the development of personal and subject-specific portfolio work that will support any applications you might make for further courses.
Part 3 - Proposal and Realisation
The final Major Project is the culmination of the Foundation Course and the work produced during this phase of the programme will make up the bulk of the final show. It is this work that is considered as evidence when the final assessment takes place. At the start of this unit you will be asked to submit a Project Proposal. A project proposal form will be supplied for you to complete at the relevant time.
Each student is allocated a personal tutor and is required to attend a formal tutorial review of their progress within the course each term. A tutorial report form is completed by the member of staff after each of these meetings. The purpose of these sessions is not only to review progress, however, but also to advise students on all matters relating to their intended progression: choice of subject and further courses, management of applications and interviews, preparation of portfolios, writing of personal statements and so on. In addition to these sessions informal tutorials take place on a daily basis, something that can only happen in the way that it does because of our continuing maintenance of high staff/student ratios and the consequent availability of a range of staff for this purpose. The personal tutor allocated to an individual student may change after specialisation to a member of staff whose area of professional expertise mirrors as closely as is feasible the subject choice of that student.
Assessment, which is progressive and takes place at each stage of the course, is undertaken by panels of specialist staff on designated assessment days. All units have to be passed in order to successfully complete the Foundation year. Units 1 to 6 are assessed and moderated internally against UAL Awarding Body criteria. The final assessment, which is graded as pass, merit or distinction, takes place at the end of the course and takes into consideration work produced during the Final Major Project exhibited in the Foundation Show. This unit is assessed by a team of internal assessors working with a designated UAL Awarding Body External Moderator.
The course culminates in the Foundation Show at the end of May. Students and staff collaborate on the preparation, curation and hanging of the show and this experience is an important part of the Course. The Foundation Show is advertised and open to the general public. There is a private view, part of which involves the award of prizes. The end of the Foundation Show marks the end of the Foundation year.
The Andrew Simpson Memorial Award for Studentship - 2 prizes of £100
The Slaughterhaus Prize - 5 Printmaking sessions and membership
The Print Tutors Foundation Prize - £50
Prize for a Foundation Show Flyer Design - £50 voucher at Cass Arts
The Skinners' Company Vargas Eyres award for an outstanding Foundation Design Student - £200
An award for an outstanding Foundation 3D Fine Art Student - £200
An award for an outstanding Foundation 2D Fine Art Student - £200
The Principal's award for outstanding work in the Foundation Show - £200
The Vintners Company award for a wine label design - £300
The Sir Roger de Grey Prize for Drawing - £50 prize, judges commendation awarded to a Foundation student
In addition to these prizes, students can enter the Fishmongers Company award for a menu cover design (£750), a competition open to all students in the school.