Stephanie Alishan

The year I spent at City & Guilds of London Art School studying the Foundation was one of the most rewarding academic years of my life. Having reluctantly given up art to study science at university, I never thought I’d get the chance to complete a Foundation. With the opportunity arising in my early twenties, I could not be happier to have finally become part of a creative academic institution, or in my choice of art school.

Why did you choose the Foundation Diploma at City & Guilds of London Art School?

I chose to study at City & Guilds of London Art School because of both the high tutor to student ratio present in smaller classes, and the creative freedom I felt in the studios as I walked around during the open day. While there are many options for Foundations in London, there are few that offer such generous contact time with different tutors throughout the week. The range of skillset present in the tutors alone is a real blessing for students who are trying to find their medium. Having experienced traditional drawing and painting fine art facilities at my secondary school, the Foundation workshops allowed me to push my skillset further, gaining real craftsmanship skills in woodwork and analogue photography. The glass workshop is also so unique, and provides a great opportunity to try a historic craft that is often out of most students’ financial reach. The combination of supportive tutors and facilities has allowed me to enter creative establishments with a level of confidence I didn’t previously think a Foundation could provide.

How did the Art School’s facilities help extend your practice?

My work developed tremendously over the year, with the opportunity to engage in any of the workshops throughout the year almost any idea was an option. Finding myself drawn to the darkroom initially, I began experimenting with 3D immersive installations using analogue projection and photography. The continuous access to all the darkroom equipment was essential to my studio practice, and I’ve left the year more comfortable developing my own film, creating my own photographic materials and producing film enlargements then I ever thought possible. Towards the end of the year I delved further into casting, using metal to create moulds of my own body, which I then presented in a vitrine I was able to build myself at the school in the wood workshop.

How did your tutors support your development?

The course is a full-time 5-day week, however as a mature student I had to work while balancing the Foundation. The open communication provided by the tutors, as well as their availability whenever I felt I couldn’t keep up is not something I’ve experienced at many other academic environments. Their willingness to let me integrate my own personal experiences into my work, without judgement, was so valuable as I figured out what kind of artist I wanted to be. Themes of intimacy and confession have been a thread throughout my work, and having tutors that can both guide and inform your work, while allowing you to maintain your own identity is something I’ll be forever grateful for.

Having now completed the Foundation Diploma, what are your career plans? 

The Foundation course at City & Guilds of London Art School was my gateway to life as an artist. While most students who complete a Foundation will go on to study an undergraduate degree, the skillset I’ve acquired on this Foundation has allowed me to continue my practice alone upon graduating. Now living in Guatemala, I’ve been able to exhibit work here and collaborate on creative projects. I will forever be indebted to the tutors, facilities and overall creative energy the Art School provided me.


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