29.09.13 - Sound of the week

For this weeks sound of the week, I bring you a tech-house inspired track by artist EDA entitled "Love Worn". I heard this recently on Defected's new album "Loco Dice in the house" that has been on repeat every day in the studio and in the car. Enjoy

27.09.13 - Open evening 2nd October 2013

Just to let you all know that South Essex College will be hosting its first of the new academic year open evening on Wednesday 2nd October. This is a great opportunity to come and look at the Foundation Diploma in Art & Design course and discuss your future intentions with further education.

25.09.13 - Sky Arts Ignition: Memory palace

On Wednesday the Foundation Diploma team made its way up to the iconic Victoria and Albert museum to see one of the most talked about exhibitions over the past months. Memory palace brought to us by Sky Arts is an exhibition adapted from the novel written by Hari Kunzru. To give you a brief overview of the story, the novel depicts a time many years from now, where a magnetic storm has destroyed the worlds technology infrastructure and all the information associated with this. 

The narrator of the story is set to be part of a secret group and it is this foundation that the exhibition sets up to explore. A collaboration of illustrators, painters, graphic designers and installation artists each responded to part of the story where the narrator starts to talk about his memories and recalls partial information. The exhibition allows for complete escape form the real world and allows you to start to think rather deeply about how we in this day and age rely so heavily on technology and where we store our information. Its was an amazing exhibition with a rich eclectic take from each of the artists and designers. 

Small in size yet overwhelmingly powerful and as an audience you feel trapped in his story wanting to read every chapter to create the bigger picture. The exhibition finishes with a memory wall, a digital installation where the audience can write and sketch out their own single memories that can be viewed on a large screen within the exhibition, not only that but on a weekly basis the walls are printed out and installed within the exhibition given new audience members an insight into who has been. On until the 20th October I would advise you all to go and see this. Having worked on projects before where students have responded and adapted to bodies of text and novels it was great to finally see this type of work in a gallery produced by some of the worlds leading contemporary artists and designers.

The day also gave us an opportunity to visit club to catwalk, a fashion design exhibition with an insight into the links between social affairs, the 80's as a genre and classic age and the influence within fashion at this time. A bonus also was that the students were booked into the fantastic educational facilities at the museum to give an informal presentation about what they had found interesting to date, this was a great start to presentation techniques and bringing the groups closer together in giving constructive criticism and peer support.


23.09.13 - 360 "half way stage"

Now at its half way point, I thought this would be an opportunity to post up some info about what I have been running as my specialist pathway project as part of 360. 360 is 4 week long rotational project designed to enable students to move around each of the specialist pathways and to ultimately get their fingers wet in as many creative disciplines as possible. As visual communications pathway leader I have produced a series of design based tasks to open them up to the ideas of what visual communication could be about. I didn't want to approach the brief with stereo typical design brief IE: poster, typography, packaging but instead I wanted to extend the challenge by giving them something that hopefully they had never considered. 

My approach was to get them to explore conditional design and the act of creating work under rules and notions of processes rather products. It is a tricky one to explain "especially if you are a fan of definitive outcomes". The series of tasks delivered responded to the conditional design handbook I had read over the summer, I felt that this angle allowed the students to engage with the design process, and that journey of development that led to refinement rather than a single idea and execution "something that seems to happen when your at college". All the tasks started off as a series of drawing games, in groups where each had its own set of conditions. Some games were fast paced, and other took various approached in remembering the rules of the game that you had to strictly follow. Although the outcomes are preset to a certain degree, you could very rarely if ever produce as identical outcome, and this got them consider about being responsive, individual and unique about how you could approach design briefs. 

Below are some pictures of the processes being performed, they do not look like anything in particular "again its process driven not product led" The team who created the series of conditional design tasks are a real inspiration and I would recommend a look into their thesis, ideas and influences.

15.09.13 - Sound of the week

Known for always having music on in the studio to build an energy and momentum, Ive decided that each week for the ongoing academic year I am going to upload what I deem the sound of the week. This weeks selected track is "Plastic People" by Four Tet.

11.09.13 - Creative Cups

So have you ever wondered what would happen if you asked 77 students to bring in between 300-500 plastic cups? well the answer is simple; a shit load of cups, but the next question is what do you do with these cups?

As part of the students 1st brief "Recall" I wanted them to think about their childhood memories, things they got up to, pictures they drew, things they built. In particular I wanted them to discuss the identity of a child's den, a place where you could escape "solo or with a friend. As a summary to the week I wanted them to be creative and responsive by working collectively in groups to use their only material "Cups" to build a den. 

Since I have been at South Essex it has been a traditional activity within the induction phase that the foundation students design and build and space, it has always been out of cardboard and paper. I wanted this year with a new team to create a rather refreshing take on this, an with a material that students could get hold of at a reasonable cost.  Now it may sound bizarre and ridiculous, Click here to see my references. Some may even say whats the point! but the identity of the UAL Foundation Diploma is that students will be opened up to a range of different tasks and working with a variety of random media. The activity was  a great success with four initial groups focusing on one particular part ie: Front, middle, back, and them combining these in an effort to make a suitable and structurally sound den that they could then inhabit and escape form the world. 

Lets just say I went home happy after this activity, enough said on that note, as the photos truly capture the moment.

09.09.13 - UAL Foundation Induction

So this week we met the new faces that are the 2013/14 UAL Foundation Diploma students. From the word go we could see some real enthusiasm and as a team we discussed how promising this year group looked already. As with any induction it was an opportunity for the students to meet not only the team but their peers and to start getting familiar with everyone's different personalities and attributes, you could already see small social groups formed within the 1st hour, yet everyone was happy to work with different people for all the tasks. 

The Chinese students students have also had a real shock, thrown into a room with 70 odd unfamiliar faces, in an unfamiliar building in a different country. Credit to them all, in that by the end of the session they had already started to show some confidence. This is bound to take time (I know I would be freaked out on my 1st day if studying in a foreign country). I am confident that in time we will start to see them flourish as young creatives and with the help of the team and academic support staff, once the language barrier is broken we can really start connecting with them. 

The day held some interesting activities showing great team work and creating a brand an name for ourselves within the building. The two induction activities we run on the day witnessed students creating sculptures entirely out of paper and influenced by conjoined verbs (Based on the work of Richard Serra). Another activity was blind sculptures where individuals selected a word and attempted to make a sculpture out of plasticine capturing the word, the difficulty was that they had to in fact make the sculpture with their hands behind their backs. Overall I would a highly inspiring, successful yet draining day, now to learn 77 new names, faces and talents.

08.09.13 - Inspiring creative videos

As I approach the official start of term and with induction only a day away, I decided that I would set the tone and the vibe of the studios with some thrilling house music whilst the students start the course. I want to open them up to the creative atmosphere we have here in the art department  that streams work hard, play harder and gets you in that creative mood. Well it was only through flicking through various different artists and songs on you tube that I come across some amazing videos "some official" that just use a beautiful balance of performance, video and photography. A bonus also is that the songs to compliment the videos are also very good. Have a good weekend and enjoy!

06.09.13 - Tea for 2

A very good colleague of mine, who over the last 2 years became extremely close and now my very own "cake buddy" aka Nastassja Simensky left the South Essex College this week to pursue her MA at Goldsmiths University whilst working as a artist/fabricator on some very tasty and exciting stuff. Known for her witty charm and sheer obsession with cakes and tea she has now left me and dear friend Maria only having to order 2 pots of tea now "Hence the post title". In the true spirit that is Tash she emailed her close colleagues a home made collage that will live on in her memory at the college. She will probably hate me for posting it up but my god, it made my Friday when I received the following. I will obviously be in contact still with Tash and with year 2 of her MA about to start I am sure there will be some exciting shows and art commissions ready for me to visit. Good luck and thank you for the many fatty cake and tea party's we have shared!

02.09.13 - New Book "Kissing Architecture" Sylvia Lavin

Kissing Architecture is one of a new collection of books by POINT, each book discusses in short a topic with theoretical and critical knowledge alongside an extendable amount of research into artists, designers who dealt with this topic. Kissing architecture could be taken in many ways as a book title and with its pink outer cover could suggest the action of standing face to face with your favorite piece of architecture ready for a pounce. Sadly "If you was excited by that" is not the case of this book written by Sylvia Lavin who describes and uses the kissing as a boundary for intersection and the attraction that architecture has with forms of contemporary art and installation. A key focus of the book is the notion and use of new emerging technology, multimedia installations, sound and video and how artists now select and use their chosen sites to best communicate their piece.

With an interest in architecture referring back to my  degree I wanted to know and gain clarity into this idea that more so than ever architects and designers are collaborating making buildings to serve as a primary purpose in the support and installations for contemporary artists, this said then makes the architecture and the fabric of the building somewhat  its own installation and contemporary art piece standing strong ready for interaction with its chosen user.

The book applies a series of references alongside imagery to support its topic and arguments and really involves you in its contents. I found myself "as an avid book collector" stuck in this book whilst away during the summer, intrigued by the new found act or "Kissing". I am looking forward to collecting the POINT series and have already got my next one sitting on the book shelf.

29.08.13 - Central St Martins Foundation Plus

Team Course leader Luke Watson, had created some good links over the summer break, making contact with the course leader from the Central St Martins Foundation Diploma course. St martins has been a brand name for some time, and with the University of Arts London now stamping their name on it, there is no wonder why students are applying to go there. It has a big reputation for the intake of international students with its location in central London and range of creative course and string industry links. With that in mind I am only but expecting that some of the new Chinese students will have this on their list on progression interest.

The Foundation Plus course runs over the summer break where students may have already taken a Foundation Diploma and wish to enhance it, or may attempt to fast track int St Martins or one of its sister venues (At this moment in time I'm not sure what one it is). We decided as a bit of a team bond and also an opportunity to see what had been delivered to visit the private open night and take a look around. The university we knew had fantastic resources to offer and with the remaining students on summer break, all eyes were focused on those completing the Foundation Plus course. A total of 25 students had completed the course (22 international) and were all going on to a UAL affiliated university and course. Overall there seemed to  be a large emphasis on Fashion with a huge collection of garments on show and with many of the students progressing onto London College of Fashion. In the way of graphic design, illustration and print there wasnt many who had delved into this pathway, and from what I saw in my honest opinion I was surpised by the quality and questioned what other work they had they may of supported their application onto a BA program. What surprised me and the team the most was the amount of support and staff surrounding this program, a total calculation of 13 tutors, 5 technicians and 3 support workers to run a 13 week course.

A good night none the less, making new contacts, a chance to see rivals work and in the teams eyes it has set the minimum that we would expect from our coming students, I am not going to sit here and type about how much better we will be, but we are going to stay in close connection with St Martins inviting them over to our shows. Game on! easy to say I will let you decide with future posts.

27.08.13 - Clil Exam

Anyone who knows me well, will tell you that despite writing a 10,000 word dissertation, passing a teaching qualification and communicating on various levels daily, I am constantly faced with the fear of "spelling & meanings behind language" I don't know what it is, but I have always found it incredibly difficult. So with that in mind you can only but imagine my facial expression when I was told that those involved in the delivery to the Chinese students would have to take a Cambridge English CLIL exam!!

CLIL (content and language integrated learning) in a nut shell is about understanding the approach and delivery of subject content and language to learners whose first language is not English. It involves looking at the core of my practice in a sense of general "slang" and language used whether formal or informal. Before I broke for the summer a selection of us were faced with a week long intense training course, where we went through the entire CLIL module handbook attempting to store in our minds all that we could. When I arrived back from the summer I sat my official CLIL exam (bringing back memories of GCSE's, I am still awaiting the result and will post up my certificate "If and when I receive it".

Despite not having a particular strength in language, I did become really involved in the subject and it has definitely made me realize just how much we as professionals working daily in a specialist sector can take language and content that we understand for granted. I feel that it has improved my confidence and will ultimately enhance my practise for all students who I will be delivering to this new academic year. The delivery level of the course I will be teaching on  does ask for critical, reflective and analytical creative language, that students may/ may not know where to begin. 

19.08.13 - New dawn, new day & New term for me

Well, what a summer break it has been for me, I have been busier than ever and even before I broke for the summer, new plans were discussed and put in place. I have officially left my position as Course team leader of Level 3 art & design and despite looking forward to the prospect of writing all the new year 2 modules and having such a good year 1 group, I am pleased to say my new and official role at South Essex College is Pathway Leader in Visual Communication for the UAL Level 4 Foundation Diploma in art & design.

Personally I feel this is a great step in the right direction in terms of professional practice and the level at which I enjoy most. The students on the course have either experienced either A-Levels or one of our Level 3 courses that now wish to take on boards the challenge of a fast paced foundation diploma to essentially build a creative portfolio. The entire team has now restructured and changed with some of my closest colleagues being part of the new team (always helps working with close friends to share that some drive and ambition). I have had delivery experience on the foundation since arriving at the college back in 2010, yet never the opportunity to run one of its creative pathways and write new program and material.

Another added challenge which I will discuss in further at a later date is that we have an exciting and refreshing challenge in the way of oversees students arriving. If you are a regular reader of my Blog you would know that back in May I designed promotional material for the course, that my faculty manager presented to several colleges and agency's out in China. Well between the material I designed and my managers presentation we must of done something right, as we have had several students confirm interest and apply for a position.

This academic year for me I feel is a chance to really put into perspective all that I have achieved at the college so far, with my teaching degree completed and with the responsibility of pathway leadership rather than course I can really get my head stuck into my creative output and my leaner's work. I feel it is also a key opportunity for my to start creating a teaching practise portfolio. Documenting not only the material I design and deliver, but the outcomes and student experiences showcasing my rich and diverse contribution to teaching art & design. For now though, I have a few weeks to work with the team in creating a dynamic and rigorous creative program that will excite not only the students, but myself and my team. Everything I deliver is going to be posted up, so please keep your eyes peeled, a lot is coming your way.