The Foundation Year 2013-14
BA Fine Art, Goldsmiths
One of the main reasons that I applied to The Foundation Year was that I was keen to gain as many skills as possible. No matter how great your ideas, if you can’t put them into action you’re not going to get far. Before the course, I had taken some life drawing and painting classes, but had received little or no guidance on it and ached to learn more about how to improve.
Therefore, an important criteria for me was to have a course that had a good student-tutor ratio and was nowhere near as large as other foundation courses. On my year there were only 28 students, which made it feel like a family. It’s easier to warm-up to fellow students, know who they are and feel more confident with every crit when you don’t keep seeing new faces.
Another very vital aspect for me was to receive guidance in my UCAS application. There are so many universities and courses that I felt lost as to where to start and what to do. So the prospect of developing a portfolio one-on-one with one of the head tutors who actually knows you personally was amazing, as I have heard that at other courses, besides your portfolio not being looked at very carefully, there are no practice interviews and no real preparation.
Lastly, but maybe most importantly, I wanted a course that would be fun but challenging. The Foundation Year was a completely different experience to the one I received at A-level. Art at my school consisted mostly of History of Art. Any practical projects were done at home in complete solitude and if the outcome did not fit together with the exact expectations or taste of the teacher, it was considered “wrong”. Any interest in the subject or hard work put into the final piece was not rewarded or acknowledged. That way, with every project I grew more frightened to voice my opinion and to think “outside of the box”.
On The Foundation Year, hard work pays off. There is no such thing as a tutor having a certain taste and forcing everyone to follow it. Discussion and varying opinions were encouraged - if you had explanations, research, sketches, etc. to back up your arguments and show that you were constantly thinking and questioning, the tutors were more than satisfied. Criticism, when voiced, didn’t feel like a verbal attack but rather as a piece of advice and a way to move forward. Knowing that you can have your own voice does wonders to your work! Besides that, the course made many connections between art history, theory and practice and I was able to learn a lot in each of these areas than was possible at school.
Since doing the course I have wanted to visit as many exhibitions as I possibly can, and feel less lost as to what to draw when I am there because of the interesting ideas for tasks that we were given on our Friday gallery days.
I really enjoyed all of the tutor-led projects because they were usually very exciting and challenging. The results of learning would be immediately visible as soon as you tried your best, which was amazing to observe.
As there was a large number of tutors, during personal project days there would be three available to talk to. Because of their different areas of work, they could assist when it came to specialised areas like sculpture or animation. If you had found one of the tutors’ advice especially helpful it was good to know you could choose to talk to them.
Each tutor brought their own experiences, opinions and teaching methods with them, making for a variety of different, exciting tutor-led projects. Also, because many of them would come in on multiple days, it did not feel like you were talking to a stranger! That made it easier to communicate with them. I think part of that was also knowing most of them had done the Drawing Year and had been students like us not too long ago!
I especially looked forward to the end of the day, when it was great being able to join in discussions about everyone’s work and even appreciate the progress I had made personally. It was often the smallest things, a brush stroke or a colour, which would make someone enthusiastic about someone else’s work. It was often these moments which made me think about going deeper than just the surface and appreciate the search for the unexpected and beautiful, or often even the “ugly”.
I am currently studying Fine Art at Goldsmiths University - the tutors were a great help in advising me what things I should take into account when deciding on a University. Additionally, I am about to start volunteering at the Royal Drawing School to help 14-16 year olds work towards their Arts Award, because I want to give back some of what I have learned on The Foundation Year.
I do keep thinking back to what a wonderful time I had on The Foundation Year and try to keep up the skills I gained by going to the free evening classes for London art students at the Royal Drawing School.