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Our Story

WHO WE ARE

Founded in 1856, Plymouth College of Art is an art school run by artists and designers for artists and designers.

We are home to a dynamic, cross-disciplinary community of makers and thinkers for whom making is as important as reading and writing, and where the purpose of learning is inseparable from that of living your life. A place for making things, and making things happen. For making a difference.

This is Now: Video and Film After Punk in The Gallery at Plymouth College of Art, just before it heads off to MOMA, New York.

WHAT WE BELIEVE: LIVE. MAKE. KEEP CREATING

We believe that high-quality education for life in contemporary arts practice is the creative catalyst for personal, professional and cultural transformation.

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.

Our ten manifesto propositions form the college's mission statement

TEN PROPOSITIONS

making is as important as reading and writing, as science & maths;

making comes before knowing;

art is not ‘about’ life, it is about living;

the purpose of learning is inseparable from that of living your life;

in art education, the learner has no ‘subject’ to hide behind;

purposeful learning creates agency, not dependency, in the learner;

the space of learning offers, or withdraws, the possibility of learning;

space cannot contain energy, energy creates space;

as a learner, as an artist, your identity will come from the horizon, not from the boundary line.

Join the conversation, and use our digital graffiti tool to write or draw your own proposition for the change you want to see in the world.

Listen to Professor Andrew Brewerton, Principal of Plymouth College of Art, discuss 'Building Learning Spaces' at the Freelands Foundation Tate Occupation with the Institute of Education.

SPACES TO MAKE

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 college.

At a time when others are narrowing the range and ecology of their learning environments, we have invested heavily in both digital and analogue dimensions – because we believe that the space of learning offers, or withdraws, the possibility of learning.

The Red House, home to Plymouth School of Creative Arts

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

We are committed to making a difference in everything that we do.

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. Together, we’re building a progressive continuum of creative learning and practice extending from early years to Masters level postgraduate study, research and professional practice.

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.

"The entire object of true education is to make people...not merely learned, but to love knowledge – not merely just, but to hunger and thirst after justice."

– John Ruskin, The Crown of Wild Olive: Four Lectures on Industry and War (1882)


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.

Makers HQ

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.

This year 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.

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