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Posted 05.07.19

Collaboration in practice for first year BA students

By Lauren Taverner Brown

Photo credit: Margo Ryszczuk, BA (Hons) Commercial Photography graduate.

With 18 programmes in total, and nearly 400 students participating, the Interdisciplinary Showcase was an impressive event with a dynamic, exciting atmosphere, which took place in our large industrial warehouse space. Thirteen curated spaces filled the room in a celebration of the variety of creative practices at Plymouth College of Art.

Throughout their second term, first-year degree students across all programmes engage in an Interdisciplinary Studies module. This module provides them with the opportunity to expand and develop skills and knowledge in fields beyond their immediate programme environment, exploring the potential for a variety of creative approaches, techniques and processes, to inform their own practice.

One of the key objectives of the module is for students to experience being part of a creative community, which is crucial within creative practice and sharing of ideas, and can take on many forms.

This year, for the very first time, the Interdisciplinary module culminated in a college-wide collaborative Showcase Event and exhibition to promote the rich diversity of interdisciplinary activities encouraged by the work done for the module. Students were able to exhibit their work in a celebratory event, where they showcased outcomes from the projects undertaken as part of the module.

Photo credit: Margo Ryszczuk, BA (Hons) Commercial Photography graduate.

Plymouth College of Art’s Academic Dean, Associate Professor Paul Fieldsend-Danks, said “Well done everyone in making the showcase such a success. What I witnessed were high levels of commitment, energy and project execution. For me the showcase demonstrated that as creative people, we are capable of flexibility and able to adapt to unfamiliar environments. Moreover, we are good problem solvers. These kind of skills will serve our students well as the creative practitioners of the future!”

Photo credit: Margo Ryszczuk, BA (Hons) Commercial Photography graduate.

The showcase event enabled students to critically reflect on what they had learnt from each other and about themselves, whilst broadening their awareness and understanding of other creative practices. It also allowed the students to build upon their professional practice, promotional and organisational skills – all key attributes needed for their progression into the second and third years of their degrees, as well as their Degree Show at the end of their final year, and of course onwards into industry.

For a rundown of the collaborative projects which took place, see the list below.

Photo credit: Margo Ryszczuk, BA (Hons) Commercial Photography graduate.

BA (Hons) Photography and BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing & Printmaking
This collaboration enabled students to collectively study the community of Ebrington Street, a bustling street near our main campus. Some of the research involved interviewing business owners and exploring archives to gain a contemporary and historical understanding of the neighbourhood. 

During the project, the skill swap sessions, where students learned facets of each others craft were particularly exciting, alongside workshops in cyanotype, photogram and darkroom based printing, and screen printing in the Warehouse, which provided insight and new skills to realise the narrative based outcomes.

On show in the celebratory Warehouse event, were four narrative based works, taking the form of a concertina book, self-bound books and a monopoly based board game entitled ‘Ebrington Street’ that was very playable. With the journey complete, the project ‘Codex Ebrington’ provided an invaluable context for undergraduate students to stretch out beyond the parameters of an undergraduate program, and to experience themselves within a wider communal and dynamic creative process.'

Photo credit: Margo Ryszczuk, BA (Hons) Commercial Photography graduate.

BA (Hons) Game Arts
The full cohort of Game Arts students took it in turns to run a live demo using figures created from the students’ own 3D digital models and artwork linked to the visualisation of the internal graphics for their board game, which included a V.R set up where the students’ creations can be viewed in a virtual environment.

BA (Hons) Animation
20 students collaborated to create three films, and also exhibited A2 sheets documenting their work, as well as physical objects made by the students. 

One group of students created an animation about Hades and Persephone, which they projection mapped onto a greek pot (representing the human world) or onto a greek column that the pot stood on (representing the underworld). Students used our Fab Lab to 3D print the column for their project, as well as creating a ceramic vase to project their animation onto. The second group undertook an ambitious project to projection map their animation onto a model of an apartment block, interweaving stories into each of the windows, and the third group worked on a pixelation project inspired by the famous Norman McLaren film "Neighbours." This crew created a tale of a Summer Holiday gone askew in Plymouth. Programme leader for BA (Hons) Animation, Tim Pattinson said, “All three of these films will help my first years to prepare for the Illuminate project next semester, and I'm very proud of everything they all accomplished.”

Photo credit: Margo Ryszczuk, BA (Hons) Commercial Photography graduate.

BA (Hons) Digital Media Production and BA (Hons) Costume Production & Associated Crafts
Titled Perfume, this was a collaboration that involved creating all the visual assets required for a 20-second long perfume advert. Students collaborated on all aspects of the design and production of the advert, from initial concept to final outcome. 

The students were grouped around style briefs of film noir, science fiction, anime and circus, and were given certain references that they had to incorporate into their advert. Using soundtrack, set design, choreography, editing, movement, composition, and colour, the groups worked to produce costumes, sets and adverts to reflect their brief.

After developing their ideas, the groups went into testing, organising and then building. Using mini staging, the groups planned out their adverts, creating photo mockups, storyboards, costume mood boards, costume fittings, shot lists and camera and lighting plans. Finally, students worked to create a production guide that included risk assessments, equipment lists, production schedules, costume plots and call sheets and contacts, to ensure that the project ran smoothly and on schedule.

Students had to research and plan in collaboration with each other, trading skills to complete the project successfully. The final outcome of the collaboration for the showcase was a multimedia combination of set flats, costumes, photographs and completed videos.

Students learned about the level of understanding and communication necessary to ensure successful collaboration, and the support required from one another, whether practical or technical. The final adverts have gone on to be used as promotional material for both degree programmes.

Photo credit: Margo Ryszczuk, BA (Hons) Commercial Photography graduate.

BA (Hons) 3D Design Crafts
The students split into five groups, and served tea using vessels they had made, and rituals that they had chosen to adopt and adapt.

Photo credit: Margo Ryszczuk, BA (Hons) Commercial Photography graduate.

BA (Hons) Printed Textile Design & Surface Pattern and BA (Hons) Textile Practices
Students were tasked to explore areas outside their programmes, developing their knowledge of how textile designers work as a team, with the aim of creating a set of light installations. The installation focuses on experimentation and innovation, how light can be directed, diffused, used and manipulated. Working in teams of three, they chose a theme from a list that included magpie opulence, kitsch florals, miami nights, elevated plastics, and empowered up. On completing their collections, the students collaborated further with BA (Hons) Interior Decoration, Design & Styling students to photograph their work in a professional studio environment. BA (Hons) Textile Practices student Conchita Dunn said, “It was a riot of colour, humour and design - the Chelsea Flower Show in textiles!”

BA (Hons) Commercial Photography for Fashion, Advertising & Editorial
Six groups of students followed three separate pathways. Each group displayed a large poster along with a magazine, lookbook or photobook, and one of the groups collaborated with BA (Hons) Costume Production & Associated Crafts, displaying one of the costumes the students photographed on a mannequin. 

Photo credit: Margo Ryszczuk, BA (Hons) Commercial Photography graduate.

BA (Hons) Interior Decoration, Design & Styling
In this collaborative project, design teams worked from an inspirational movie recognised for its visual representation of an era or style. Films included: Austin Powers (1997), The Great Gatsby (2013), Back to the Future (1985), Nanny Mcphee (2005), Labyrinth (1986), Titanic (1997) and Sin City (2005). 

The films inspired a body of research that explored drawing and photography to aid design development of the textile print process, transfer print. This body of fabric samples needed to work individually as a collection, but be unified as a group, and based on the film research. This design journey was enabled through drawing and textile techniques to create designs which were inherently stylised and influenced by the allocated film.

Samples were transfer printed and then developed into lampshades for floor, or tabletop lampstands. As well as this students were tasked with creating a styled photoshoot, sourcing all props, accessories and furniture to create a visually exciting photographic outcome inspired by their film. The photoshoot day welcomed students from BA (Hons) Commercial Photography and BA (Hons) Printed Textile Design & Surface Pattern, with the aim of introducing change and disruption.

This body of work allowed students to realise their ideas individually and collaboratively, exploring cross-disciplinary approaches in interiors and associated applications.

Lizzi Hand, studying on our BA (Hons) Interior Decoration, Design & Styling degree said, "I took part in the install of the Interiors area for the Interdisciplinary exhibition. This was an exciting experience as I was able to use my styling skills to present the work effectively. This was my first experience of putting up an exhibition, initially, the space seemed large, but once we worked together to install the work, I felt really proud of what we had achieved. The atmosphere on the day gave us a real sense of achievement and a real buzz to be working alongside other courses." 

Photo credit: Margo Ryszczuk, BA (Hons) Commercial Photography graduate.

BA (Hons) Fine Art

Seven collaborative groups were formed by first-year Fine Art students. They critically examined contemporary exhibition making, the role of the artist as maker and curator, and what constitutes meaningful collaboration. The groups were somewhat flexible, and participants sometimes overlapped across groups, in a trans-collaborative way, sharing particular skills, or conceptual interests. Within the module, students made zines, GIFs, badges, films, photographs. Writing workshops considered possible ways to articulate ideas, where text becomes an extension of their artwork.

The outcomes ranged from speculative installations examining crossovers of science and art, using available archives, and found footage in sound and film, autobiographical approaches to challenges of collaboration, critique of stereotyping gender roles in the film industry, and questions of the role art can play in the current climate emergency.

Photo credit: Margo Ryszczuk, BA (Hons) Commercial Photography graduate.

BA (Hons) Film
Students built an installation, creating a set of a room, which was inspired by photographer Gregory Crewdson’s style of uncanny and unnatural style of lighting. Their set aimed to convey both the feeling of a moment frozen in time, and all the moments of deep time. Students have taken the philosophy of glitch to heart, and experimented with glitch as a central idea and a technique in the installation. The entire class worked together on the set, but split into several different teams, including producers/writers, production design, FX, sound, construction and more. Success not only came in the form of a completed set, but a seal of approval from Crewdson’s instagram account, as a post shared on the BA (Hons) Film instagram account which tagged Crewdson (www.instagram.com/crewdsonstudio) was liked by the artist’s account.

Photo credit: Margo Ryszczuk, BA (Hons) Commercial Photography graduate.

BA (Hons) Fashion and BA (Hons) Fashion Media & Marketing
First-year students from both degree programmes worked together in mixed, cross-programme teams on a live brief. They produced a series of outcomes to be used as promotional items for two events; Graduate Fashion Week 2019, and the Plymouth College of Art Degree Shows in June 2019. Students from the two courses worked together to teach each other key skills from their respective areas, and gain a further understanding of a wider range of creative practices in fields beyond their own programme environment.

Both courses worked together to photograph the third year Fashion students final collections to produce imagery used in their lookbook. The students also made a series of drawstring bags to be used as merchandise for Graduate Fashion Week, which gave Fashion Media & Marketing students the opportunity to learn more about design and construction.

The collaboration allowed Fashion students to develop skills in areas of Media & Marketing, and allowed Fashion Media & Marketing students to develop skills in sewing and product construction. This module was valuable in teaching the students the importance of collaboration, and utilising the strengths and talents of their peers when completing their work.

BA (Hons) Illustration
Working to the overall theme of MUSEOLOGY, BA Illustration students became their own MUSEUM. Working in groups they researched themes and produced artefacts using unconventional processes. They curated the artefacts and presented the work through publications and posters.

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