Thursday, 30 April 2020

Artist of the Month | April 2020

We have a bumper filled edition of Artist of the Month for you this month folks! This week marks the 5th week of college lockdown, 7th if you include the Easter holidays! And we have been incredibly impressed by the amount of work and dedication so many of you have shown to your subjects. We understand that working from home, especially with such a practical subject, can be really tough, and being without the department and its facilities will have been a difficult environment to adapt to. Which is why we are super proud that so many of you are using so much initiative and imagination to get the work done. It is a real testament to your work ethic and you should all be very proud of yourselves for keeping going during such a crazy time, so well done to all of you for that.

Now as so many of you have really stepped up to the mark during this lockdown, it was near impossible to choose just one student for each subject, so we’ve nominated at least two for each! So a big congratulations to all our April Artists of the Month, keep up the hard work folks! 

A1 Fine Art - Isabel Marshall

A1 Fine Art - Alice Wright

A1 Fine Art - Imogen Blue Marshall

A2 Fine Art - Charlotte Morris

A2 Fine Art - Libby Hearsum

A1 Graphics - Katie Turner

A1 Graphics - Abbie Walton

A2 Graphics - Jack Masters

A2 Graphics - Libby Hearsum

A1 Photography - Felicity Blain

A1 Photography - Mae Robinson

A1 Photography - Tegan Jay

A2 Photography - Jess Watson

A2 Photography - Emily Brownett

Friday, 6 March 2020

Student Rep Meeting | March 2020

On Tuesday our staff met with student reps to discuss issues arisen from the recent Learner Voice survey, as well as talking about the new Assessment Video and considering possible new storage and work space solutions in the department. Here is a brief summary of what was discussed.

 Assessment Video

We wanted to ask our reps what they thought of this. This is a new resource that has been shown to both first years and second years to help explain the way we assess work in art in a more compact and easy to understand way. Our reps all agreed this was a great way of doing assessment lessons and our A2s said this was better than the way it was done last year. So overall this got a thumbs up from our reps! 

Storage and Work Space in the Department

As we are a growing department full of students with lots of ambition (and therefore lots of work!), our department is now becoming difficult to work in in terms of space and storage. As we are of course on a limited budget, we wanted to ask the reps if they had any ideas on how to solve some of these problems. One of the issues brought up was the lack of space in the computer area as people tend to work on there sketchbooks at the computers. We suggested more students could work upstairs as B and F block are free so there is lots of table space. After some discussion the general consensus was that the rooms needs a move around to make more space for independent work, and if we could also fit in more storage for work while we were at it that would be amazing. So staff are going to sit down and have a chat about how we can rearrange the rooms, and also put a proposal together for some new furniture and possibly storage which could be put to senior management. 
We will keep you updated on this one!

Darkroom Dryer

As many of you will know our old print dryer finally went kaput a few weeks ago and since then we have been trying to find a solution to put in its place. So far we have been using the tall film dryer cupboard and have put a set of drawers in the darkroom for people to leave their prints to dry in. Reps told us this wasn't the best solution as it takes overnight for their prints to dry, but the film dryer seems to be working well. So for now we'll stick with this, but we have also ordered a different kind of print dryer that we are going to test out as well!

Any other business

Noise downstairs:
Staff are concerned at the levels of noise downstairs and how it is starting to become a bit of a social area! Our classrooms are for working in and lessons are being disrupted constantly by this, and with the issues we are having with space at the moment this isn't helping. Reps were asked to be vigilant when working downstairs and help staff try and maintain a quiet working atmosphere in the department.

Sketchbook presentation:
A few of our reps were finding presentation in sketchbooks difficult which they said would be helped if there were more examples available of what a sketchbook page should look like. Now we do have a large catalogue of sketchbook examples on Pinterest, however it was said that these were sometimes hard to find as they are in folders for each subject rather than for a task. So if someone wants to see how a photoshoot is presented for example, it isn't easily there for them to find. 
Staff and reps are going to spend some time reorganising our Pinterest boards to make this more accessible.

Untidy darkroom!:
It was raised by our reps that darkroom rules lately are not being respected by students particularly working in their frees. There have been issues with students taking drinks in with them, leaving a mess, and not looking after the equipment i.e. leaving enlargers on. 
We suggested having posters in each enlarger booth to remind students of the rules and protocol that needs to be followed when they are using the darkroom, and our reps also suggested a booking sheet for students to use when the are in their free periods. We will trial this and see how it goes, and put these into place as soon as possible.

Thank you to our reps for a really helpful and productive meeting! We will hopefully be meeting again before Easter to discuss a proposal for storage and the rooms. 

Friday, 14 February 2020

Exploring Media Prize Winners | 2020

After the success of last years AL1 Exhibition around college, we decided to this again this year with our first year students, displaying their Exhibition Boards on the Humanities corridors by the Lecture Theatre and up near Student Services. This was once again a fantastic way to end the Exploring Media project and showcase the amazing work that has been created by our students since starting in September. 

As always, we like to recognise those who we think have excelled in their effort and hard work in their courses so far and have created some really spectacular work. We have awarded one or two students in each subject for the categories of 'Exhibition Board', 'Sketchbook' and 'Outcomes'. Congratulations to all those nominated! These boards are situated down the corridor past student services and by the principal's office, please go and have a look at these, and all our students exhibition boards, next time you are passing!

Fine Art
Kacey Barrass
Exhibition Board

Alisha Bullivant
Exhibition Board

Joshua Lawrence

Imogen Blue Marshall

Eleanor Kay

Siobhan Wilson

Isabel Marshall
Exhibition Board

Daisy Bernard

Latisha Barnard

Charlie Stewart
Exhibition Board

Julianne Mackintosh
Exhibition Board

Molly Firth

Abbie Walton

Felicity Blain

Mae Robinson

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Leaner Voice | February 2020

What do you love about Art/Graphics/Photography at Thomas Rotherham College? 

Staff and Support Available – 49%

The support given from staff members is this years’ most loved aspect of the TRC art department. We are so pleased to hear that the help, guidance, and just the general ‘being on hand’ from all of us is something that is not only appreciated but something that stands out as one of your favourite parts of the department. So thanks everyone, this is great to hear!

‘Appreciate the support from all the staff – always someone to ask for help’

‘All teachers are always willing to help’

‘Amazing passionate teachers’

‘The equality. Staff are amazing at making people feel comfortable and accepted 😊

Open Door and Friendly Environment – 41%

In close second is the classic mention of our open door policy along with the welcoming and friendly atmosphere of the department as a whole. We try really hard to make sure that our rooms promote a positive working environment that is both welcoming and productive. Our open door gets mentioned every year in learner voice as it is something that is so useful and is clearly loved by many of our students.

’Welcome in the department any time’

‘Good working atmosphere’

‘Friendly environment that makes the department feel separate to the rest of college (in a good way)’

‘Friendly atmosphere!’

Access to Facilities and Resources – 28%

We try to provide as many techniques as we can to our students here at TRC (space and budget providing!), so it’s great to hear that our facilities like our darkroom and printmaking equipment is something you love about the department. 

‘Darkroom facilities!’

‘We have access to lots of processes, materials and techniques’

‘The opportunity and resources to make a wide variety of practical work’

Materials Available and the Art Shop – 12%

I think this may be the first time our materials in the shop have been deemed as ‘inexpensive’, but that is fantastic to hear! We sell all our equipment at cost price, so we do try and make these as cheap as possible for our students while still providing a wide range of materials for them to use and purchase.

‘Access to high quality inexpensive materials’

’Love the materials available and the shop’

A few honourable mentions…
·         The Printer
·         Trips!
·         Useful activities on improving sketchbook pages
·         Homework and lesson objectives always clear
·         Purple book bingo

What do you wish for in Art/Graphics/Photography at Thomas Rotherham College?

More room to work outside lessons – 33%
This seemed to be referring to upstairs and downstairs. The left hand side of the upstairs room is always available for you to use in study halls/outside your lessons, however we do realise there is not a lot of space here and it does tend to get quite full. As we have a taught lesson in every block downstairs this year is it inevitable that downstairs also gets quite full on a daily basis. The only thing we can suggest here is to ask that if you are not using the studio space to do work, please give up your space for someone who needs it. This is one of our ‘Studio Rules’ which can be seen all over the department, asking students not to hog studio space.
We are a very small department for so many students, so we all need to do our bit to make sure everyone can come in and do their work during frees or study halls. We will also have a look at table arrangements upstairs to see if we can gain some space by doing some rejigging. However, unless we get an extension – which we would LOVE!! – there isn’t much we can do I’m afraid!

More trips – 18%
We do two trips as standard over your 2 years – YSP and Manchester. However, over the last year we have started going Life Drawing at ROAR and visiting Wentworth Woodhouse with Photography, so we are slowly increasing the amount of trips we go on as a department. Trips take a lot of organising and it is difficult to fit them in without disrupting our schemes of work. You are allowed 3 days out from each year of you’re A Level for trips, this is to minimise disruption to other subjects. So we have wriggle room for one and a half more trips per year…… we will bare this in mind and see what we can do!

More printer credits – 15%
We expected this to get a mention! A few years ago we managed to get our students £5 more than students in college due to the demand our subjects have for printing work. Art students get this every term along with the standard amount paid into your printer credits. However, this clearly still isn’t enough! Our students reps also mentioned this in our last meeting with them. We are looking to speak to someone about this as it is not something we can control and not our decision, so we can’t do much about this I’m afraid! But like I said, we are looking into this.

Less work – 10%
This was taken from various comments; some may not have specifically said this but it seemed to fall under this category. The amount of work we set is only as much as we feel you need to achieve a great A-Level. A Levels in creative subjects are hard and time consuming. If we didn’t set the amount of work we do, some of you may not achieve the grades you are aiming for! We realise it is a lot to do, however it should only take you the recommended 4 and a half hours outside of lessons to complete, any more time spent on it should be considered stretch and challenge.

More guillotines – 5%
It is staggering that a few years ago this was 47% of one Learner Voice wishes! Since then though we have gained an extra guillotine downstairs and with 2 up and 2 down we seem to be managing for the most part. So unless this becomes a huge issue again, we will leave this for now.

Nothing! – 3%
Very kind! Thank you! 😊

A few honourable mentions…

Art department party at the end of exams
This is called our exhibition! 😊

Heater in the darkroom
We are looking really hard to find one of these. They aren’t made anymore so we are trying to find a second hand one online and calling round our camera/darkroom contacts, however print dryers seem to be few and far between!

Computers that work
Moodle being down and having more individual storage were also mentioned. We work hard with computer services to try and keep everything running smoothly and sort problems out as quick as we can when they occur, however there do seem to be a lot of issues this year that we are struggling to sort quickly! We will keep fighting this our end, that is all we can do.

An enforcement of awareness for other people working in the department
This is a big issue for us too. After the A2 Hand In the rooms were completely tidied, this took us 2-3 hours to work our way through the department and sort everything out. So we are really disappointed to see that now, less than two weeks later, the rooms are looking like a bombsite again. This isn’t an issue however of us keeping things tidy, we do not have the hands or hours in the day to keep on top of rooms when students leave it in such a state, it is, like the student who wrote this comment very rightly said, about a culture in the department to be aware of the space you and that other people will be using it after you. We have just started a rota system asking classes at the end of each day to tidy the rooms, hopefully this will help, but this is not something that we can control, it is down to fellow students to - as our studio rules say! -  be kind and be respectful.

Colour developing chemicals
If only! However none of us have been trained in how to do this so we would not know where to start! We can look into this as it would be AMAZING! But I imagine this is a whole different process to black and white developing, so we’ll see how complicated it is!

Lessons on Photoshop editing
We are looking to start doing Photoshop tutorials on youtube to help with the general basics – would this be helpful? If so, let us know what you would like to see us focus on!

Bigger studio
Yes please! We realise the studio upstairs in art is very small and can only just cram in our 4 lights and two backdrops. However, there is no where else for this to go in the department. Once again unless we can get a lovely new extension built I don’t think this is possible unfortunately. However there is always the fancy studio up in Media for you to use which is much bigger than ours 😊

Graphics tablets
Will look into it!

Monday, 3 February 2020

A2 Manchester Trip | February 2020

This year's A2 ESA trip to Manchester took us once again to The Whitworth and Manchester Art Gallery, where we got the chance to see work by a wide variety of artists, designers and photographers. The day may have started drizzly, but it was only a short walk across Whitworth from the coach to The Whitworth itself, and once inside we quickly took a quick a register before sending everyone off to collect research and create studies. 

The Whitworth were exhibiting a great variety of work for all our Fine Art, Graphics and Photography students to look at, including Cezanne, Elizabeth Price, Tracey Emin - and many more! The shop was also fantastic for our Graphics students to see how artwork and design can be translated into unique products. All our students studied the work on display and created drawings and sketches from the work that inspired them. 

Time soon flew by and by 12 it was time to meet in the promenade for some lunch, as well as have a quick look at everyone's work that had been produced so far, and before we knew it it was time to jump back on the coach to make our way the Manchester Art Gallery. (although not before we got a quick group photo in front of some very snazzy wallpaper!)

Now the day may have started drizzly, but by lunchtime it was POURING! However, it was once again only a quick hop off the coach and down the street to get to the Manchester Art Gallery, which had a fantastic 'Out of the Crate' sculpture collection exhibition on display as well as their permanent Fine Art collection. 

It was soon time to head back to the coach one final time to make our way back over the Pennines back to TRC. As always, thank you to all our students for such a lovely day - we hope you all enjoyed it too! We already can't wait for next year!