Construction of World Class Facilities for Crafts
Investing in a Future Facing Learning Environment
In an environment of aggressive cuts in education and the arts, we are swimming against the tide, ploughing over £7.7M into building a brand new, state of the art, craft and digital design workshop block that will place us at the forefront of Contemporary Crafts practice in the UK.
Contemporary crafts are evolving rapidly, and today’s designer-makers are combining traditional craft skills with the use of ever sophisticated and increasingly cutting-edge digital technologies.
Students and staff across a variety of disciplines ranging from Glass and Jewellery to Fine Art and Ceramics will take advantage of new workshops and studio spaces, a range of industry level equipment and a purpose-built building, due for completion in February 2014.
The project has been financed through a £2.5M grant from the Skills Funding Agency and a £5.2M from the College’s own pocket. This huge investment comes at a time when many education facilities are taking the decision to de-invest in craft facilities, with a number of colleges across the country closing their craft-related courses.
In 2009, Grayson Perry led condemnation of the University of Westminster for closing one of Britain's top ceramics courses. Since then, the Crafts Council, who are the national development agency for contemporary crafts in the UK, have reported over 30 further crafts course closures.
Despite these prominent course and department closures, in today’s design-rich culture Contemporary Crafts and their associated skills are in higher demand than ever before, and the new facilities and resources coming to the College are needed now more than ever.
Professor Andrew Brewerton, College Principal said, “The number of people seeking a high quality education that will set them up for a creative career is rapidly growing and we can see that there is the demand for these new facilities from the increase in enrolments on our crafts courses.
With the resurgence of crafts happening within a digital age there is an emphasis on blending new technologies with making by hand. The new building and equipment embraces all areas of contemporary crafts and it will be a fantastic addition to the extensive range of specialist facilities that the College already has. Coupled with the knowledge of our tutors and technicians, we are equipped to give outstanding contemporary crafts training to more students than ever before.”
Our new programme of Contemporary Crafts courses means that students can now study the specialism at Foundation Degree, BA (Hons) and MA level and these state of the art workshops will help shape the careers of the next generation of talented designer-makers.
Award-winning Applied Arts graduate Louise Cloke tells us what the new facilities will mean for Plymouth College of Art students, “Having access to cutting-edge technologies and training opens up so many doors to careers. Contemporary crafts is big business and the knowledge and experience you gain through studying can really set you apart when you start looking for employment in the industry.”
‘‘We’re not just replacing what we’ve got but we’re heavily investing in new technology” says Loraine Evens, Head of Learning Resource Environment at the College.
The building project will be rolled out over several stages, with work already well under way. The first part of the building project will include 1800 square metres of new workshops and studio space for the Fine Art, Glass and Ceramics departments and will open in September 2013, in time for next year’s graduate intake.
Phase 2, due for completion in February 2014, will add a further 1750 square metres of workshop and studio spaces for wood-making, jewellery design and fine art printing. An exciting addition to the College will be a digital design lab including 3D printing facilities that will enable students across the college to envisage 2D drawings in three dimensions and produce rapid prototypes using computer aided design.
“The great thing is that Charles Street, where the new studios will be based, is a busy thoroughfare” adds Loraine. “People will be able to see students making glass and jewellery and may be encouraged to try something themselves.”
As a specialist, independent further and higher education art and design college, Plymouth College of Art play a vital role locally, regionally, nationally and internationally in providing excellence in Art and Design education and training.
Along with enhancing the learning experience for current students, it is also our ambition that the wider creative community will be able to access the workshops and benefit from the fantastic new facilities.