A new kind of art school
Plymouth College of Art is an independent university-sector art school run by artists and designers for artists and designers, widely regarded as a dynamic catalyst for creative learning and social justice.
The world needs creatives now more than ever. Our proposition is that making is as important as reading and writing, as science and maths, and that the purpose of learning is inseparable from that of living your life. This is a place for making things, for making things happen, and for making a difference.
Social justice, through community impact and social mobility, and creative learning, through pedagogical innovation, are part of our DNA and at the heart of everything that we do.
We provide a platform, a crucible, a space where people come together, explore new horizons, and push the boundaries of creative practice.
Together, we imagine, experiment, think, learn, make things, and make things happen. Whatever you want to make, wherever you want to go, the journey starts here, and never stops.
Established in 1856 as Plymouth School of Art, the college has since occupied a number of city-centre locations and names before settling at the site of our current undergraduate campus, Tavistock Place.
In response to the marginalisation of the creative arts in mainstream education in the UK, in 2013 we established a trans-generational progressive continuum of creative learning with the founding of the Plymouth School of Creative Arts in a RIBA and AJ100 award-winning building – The Red House, formally opened in 2015 by Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair of Arts Council England, which became Millbay Academy as part of Reach South Academy Trust in 2020.
In 2016 Katie Greenyer, Creative Talent & Networks Director at Pentland Brands, opened Palace Court, our pre-degree campus for students aged 16 to 19-years-old. In 2017 Lady Frances Sorrell, Co-founder of the Sorrell Foundation and Saturday Club Trust, opened Palace Studios, our dedicated building for Foundation Diploma in Art & Design students. And in 2018 we created Makers HQ, a fully commercial fashion manufacturing business with a strong social enterprise ethos, as a Community Interest Company (CIC) in partnership with Millfields Trust.
Plymouth has always been an exciting city, but in 2020 with the opening of The Box, the largest museum and art gallery space in the South West, and with the British Art Show returning to Plymouth College of Art in 2021, there’s a buzz that can’t be missed.
Our work is as global as it is local, inviting purposeful partnership and opportunities for our students within our inner-city neighbourhood, with our global partner universities and Erasmus locations. Last year we collaborated with experts in art education from across China at FutureLab Shanghai, the 2019 Art and Design Innovation Future Education Expo, building on ties to Shanghai’s International Art City project (SIAC), on which the college has Advisory Board membership. From our work on the Crafting Futures programme in Myanmar and the South Caucuses to our biennial Making Futures conferences, we’re putting Plymouth on the map for the creative arts through our partnerships and research projects with Tate, The V&A and the British Council.
Opportunities to work with these international partners will allow you to develop the richest, most dynamic horizons for your practice. As a student, it is your energy that interests us and that we work with here: the emerging creative focus of your individual path within a specialist learning environment of industry-standard studios and workshops in which your work can truly flourish.
Our working environment is widely regarded as one of the richest and most diverse ecosystems of materials, technologies, processes, practices, art forms and ideas that you will find in the form of an art school. At a time when others are narrowing the range and ecology of their learning infrastructure, we see it as the natural habitat of artists and designers and makers, and that’s why in recent years we have invested more than £12 million in both digital and analogue dimensions.
We do this because we know that the space of learning either offers or withdraws the possibility of learning, and that there is a kind of creative intelligence, aesthetic sensibility and cognitive method that you will only ever acquire at first-hand, in live contact with materials and processes.
At Plymouth College of Art, students work alongside tutors and technicians who are not only experienced educators but highly engaged in the UK creative industries.
There were 3.2 million jobs in the UK creative economy in 2018, with creative industries businesses now accounting for 11.9% of all businesses in the UK. Since 2010, the value of the creative industries to the UK economy has increased by 53.1% and is estimated to increase to £130 billion by 2025.
- In response to the ongoing drive to marginalise the creative arts in mainstream education in the UK, we founded Plymouth School of Creative Arts and built The Red House in an inner-city area of significant social and economic deprivation.
- In 2016 Plymouth College of Art was ranked in the top fifteen Higher Education Institutions in the country for having the highest level of female membership of governing bodies.
- In 2016/17, Plymouth College of Art had the highest percentage from across the South East, the South West, and London, of full-time entrants aged under 21 years old, who are entering Higher Education for the first time from neighbourhoods with low participation in Higher Education.
- In 2017 we were awarded the Social Enterprise Gold Mark for our systemic commitment to community engagement and to creating positive social change. And in 2018 we were ranked as 5th out of Higher Education Institutions in the UK for class equality and access to higher education.
- In 2018, we created a fashion manufacturing business, Makers HQ, as a Community Interest Company (CIC) in partnership with the Millfields Trust, to drive community regeneration, increase retention of highly-skilled graduates and to reignite the fashion manufacturing sector within the South West.
You're here because you have a calling for creative practice in art, craft, design and media, and your creative path as an artist, designer and maker will lead you into a global market. Your identity as an artist or designer will come from the horizon, not from the boundary line. Your task is to go out into the world in order to discover who you are. This is the journey of your life, as well as your creative practice, an adventure that begins here.