Our National Art&Design Saturday Club hosted its first regional Masterclass this year, led by national architect and designer Thomas Randall-Page, famous for his work to creating a floating theatre with Benedetta Rogers for Antepavilion, an annual competition to design a temporary structure at Hoxton Docks on Regent's Canal, held by the Architecture Foundation.
The South West regional Masterclass, held at Plymouth College of Art, was attended by around young people aged 14 to 16 from Plymouth and the surrounding areas, along with members of Saturday Clubs from Cornwall College and Truro and Penwith College. Around fifty students and lecturers from across the three colleges participated in the day of workshops and activities.
Lead artist Thomas Randall-Page introduced the students to his work with inhabitable inflatables, discussing his career as a freelance architectural designer and the path that led him to work with inflatables. He then split the students into four groups and tasked each group with designing a quarter of a huge interlocking inflatable structure, using plastic sheeting and heat safety blankets.
Fourteen-year-old Leon Lin, from Plymstock, said: “When I first started coming to National Art&Design Saturday Club I was anxious but I found the community to be really supportive and encouraging. The Masterclass with Thomas Randall-Page helped me to develop new skills and discover new priorities in art. I never imagined that something like a balloon could be a work of art.”
The students spent most of the day designing and making their constructions and joining them together using tape and giant plastic tubes. Midway through the session students were given a glassblowing demonstration by artist Benjamin Lintell, a BA (Hons) Contemporary Crafts graduate of the college who also took part in the college’s Saturday Clubs from the age of nine before returning for pre-degree and degree-level study.
Students found it useful to see the similarities between shapes created by Benjamin blowing air into the hot glass and the possibilities for their own inflatable structures in other materials. Following the glass demonstration they worked together to finalise their inflatable structure, joining the four pieces together to create a finished structure.
Clare Shortcook, Young Arts Coordinator at Plymouth College of Art, said: “Through our involvement in the National Art&Design Saturday Club we want to open the eyes of local young people to the wide range of possibilities available to them for future careers in the creative sector. We want to excite them with chances to explore and experiment with new art forms and processes that aren’t available to them at school.”
Plymouth College of Art was one of the first of the four founder colleges in the UK to offer the Sorrell Foundation’s National Art and Design Saturday Club when it was first established in 2009. The National Art and Design Saturday Club provides young people aged 14-16 the opportunity to study art and design every Saturday morning at their local art college or university for free.