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Posted 15.05.20

Pre-Degree students at Plymouth College of Art keep creating

By Naomi Girdler

Work by Hannah Mortimore

Students aged 16 to 19 and teachers from Plymouth College of Art’s Pre-Degree campus are successfully tackling the challenges posed by continuing their art education without interruption to their learning during lockdown, due to the global outbreak of coronavirus.

Pre-Degree Photography subject leader Tobie Loates is leading a team that have repurposed their online learning platform for students. Working in collaboration, staff and students have created a community packed with resources, videos, tutorials and other interactive online content.

Tobie said: “On the Photography course since social distancing measures began, we have continued to set regular creative challenges that can be completed with a smartphone, camera, video camera, or even as a piece of writing. We’re working hard to make sure that nobody is excluded. We provide regular lessons online on a daily basis, in keeping with the students’ timetables, and then review student submissions each week, with online critiques led by expert tutors.”

Pre-Degree Photography subject leader Tobie Loates hosting the lecture about British sculptor and photographer Jason De-Caires Taylor

“We’re continuing to hold many one-on-one live video tutorials, as well as giving advice on progression to university and other career options, to help students prepare for the next stage of their creative development. We’ve also been hosting online artist lectures, with the first in the series about the amazing British sculptor and photographer Jason De-Caires Taylor, creator of the world’s first underwater sculpture park, the Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park.”

“...we’re supporting all students to continue their studies and keeping in touch with each other regularly through our online community.”
- Matias Shortcook, Dean for Pre-Degree

“It has been so inspiring to see how the students have contributed,” Tobie continued. “They really appreciate the regular online contact and check-ins. We recently held a ‘Life in Lockdown’ exercise where students were encouraged to make a piece of artwork in creative response to the lockdown and were so impressed with the students’ creativity and flexibility in the project.”

Responding creatively to lockdown

Mae German, aged 17 from Plymouth, is a first-year UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma Photography student, who responded to the project by writing a poem about how the lockdown was affecting her. Named ‘Just a Waiting Game’, the poem talks about the ups and downs of lockdown life.

UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma Photography student Mae German and her work exploring her daily lockdown walk

Mae said: “Plymouth College of Art has responded amazingly to the worldwide pandemic, especially with how quickly they adapted to this new way of working. The communication has been great; we all know who we can talk to, about what and when, with the tutors easy to contact and with support available where it’s needed.”

Pursuing creative outcomes

Second-year UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma Photography student, Hannah Mortimore, aged 19 from Liskeard, is also happy with the Pre-Degree online teaching. Despite UAL Awarding Body guidelines choosing not to base grades on work completed after social distancing measures began, teachers at Plymouth College are encouraging and supporting students to continue pursuing their creative outcomes, and Hannah has chosen to complete the final major project that she’d planned as the culmination of her studies.

“Plymouth College of Art has responded amazingly to the worldwide pandemic, especially with how quickly they adapted to this new way of working.”
- Mae German, UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma Photography student

Hannah said: “Plymouth College of Art has been quick to provide as many answers as they can to my questions and with their support, I intend to continue with my final major project. The change has meant I’ve needed to incorporate different kinds of artists and photography into my work, but if anything, this has allowed me to broaden my horizons and learn new skills.”

“All students have been given lots of support and resources to manage the transition from physical learning to online, not only for our work but also for our mental health. I do miss being able to travel to the college and see everyone in person, but I am extremely grateful for what Plymouth College of Art has done to ensure that this is as manageable as possible.”

“My advice to other students in the same position would be to keep creating! It’s hard to keep up your regular way of working, but that doesn’t mean you should give up. Keep sketching, take photos, make films, design games and create fashion. Even if you can’t develop your primary artistic skill, try to learn something new.”

UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma Photography student Hannah Mortimore with her work for the ‘Life in Lockdown’ project

Supporting remote learning and preparing for the future

Matias Shortcook, Dean for Pre-Degree at Plymouth College of Art, said: “Students and staff alike are all missing having access to the buzzing atmosphere and industry-standard equipment at our Palace Court campus, but we’re working to be ready to reopen our studios as soon as it’s safe to do so. Until then, we’re supporting all students to continue their studies and keeping in touch with each other regularly through our online community.”

Plymouth College of Art offers many online resources to support students learning remotely, including distributing Adobe Creative Suite software, helping source computers for those in need, as well as tutors continuing to provide research projects and tasks in order to keep students creating and directly supporting them through email and video calls.

If you’re interested in what Plymouth College of Art has to offer, there are many ways you can continue to research despite social distancing. Take a Virtual Tour of the college’s state-of-the-art facilities, attend a Digital Drop-In event, chat to a current student or staff member on Unibuddy or get in touch with one of the admissions team at liaison@pca.ac.uk.

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