These days it's difficult to be creative. In 2011, the Arts Council had its budget cut by 29.6 percent, with over 200 organizations losing funding. Once again the arts community is having to justify the need for public spending and quantify their social worth. In light of these pressures, Crane.tv turned the spotlight on the University of the Arts London; Europe's largest provider of education in art, design, fashion, communication and the performing arts. We travelled to each of the six colleges in the lead-up to the Summer Show Season, to highlight the diversity of talent and creativity housed in some of the capital's most creative educational institutions.
UAL houses six colleges; Camberwell College of the Arts, Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, Chelsea College of Art and Design, London College of Communication, London College of Fashion and Wimbledon College of Art. Their hallowed halls have produced the likes of Grayson Perry, Jefferson Hack and Gareth Pugh. For those of us outside of the creative sphere, art college has an element of romance and mystery to it. We imagine idealistic students roaming the halls 'being creative' at a moment's notice. But how much do we really understand about the possibilities of studying at one of these famed institutions?
On our travels around the campuses, one of our overriding impressions was how diverse each of the sites are. Central Saint Martins stands new, imposing and vast, encouraging its students to create increasingly larger installations, whilst on the other end of the spectrum London College of Communication has an urban quality with signs stencilled onto the walls, enhancing the impression that you could pick up a brush and start painting anywhere. The courses themselves range from the traditional (a BA in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins) to the more niche (Technical Arts and Special Effects at Wimbledon). Regardless of the topic, the reality of almost every course at UAL's colleges is the breadth and freedom of interpretation that is given to the students. At Camberwell the idea of a BA in Illustration seems fairly straightforward. However students Katie Johnston and Charlene Man teamed up to create 'Play-o-logy'; essentially an idea for a business that educates children about science using art. When we visited them at Camberwell we were treated to a first-hand demonstration of their giant inflatable digestive system -- a far cry from traditional illustration.
Hopefully it is clear from this small snapshot that art education is far more complex than it seems. Each year students continue to surprise and excite -- if you don't believe us just head down to the exhibitions currently being held at the individual campuses. Art, design, fashion -- these are the things that not only enhance, but shape our world. We should be encouraging and celebrating these institutions rather than asking why they exist.
Find out more about University of the Arts London's Summer Shows 2012 here
Text by Angelica Pursley for Crane.tv
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