The Slade Summer School Foundation course is an excellent introduction to the study of contemporary art. It sustains and develops students’ abilities and interests over a ten-week period and offers an opportunity for an intense engagement with contemporary Fine Art practice.
The course encourages individual creativity whilst imparting a solid grounding in the practical and the aesthetic. Entry is open to students of all levels and experience, and provides an opportunity to acquire the skills and knowledge necessary for progression into further or higher education in Fine Art, further independent study and an individual art practice rooted in sound knowledge of current educational pedagogy in Fine Art.
Duration: 10 weeks
Date: 02 July - 07 September
Tutor(s): Sandra Smith / Max Holdaway
Level: All levels and experience
Download the Summer School Brochure (pdf)
The course begins with a structured introduction to Fine Art. In these first weeks students will meet a range of tutors with whom they will work and be supported by, over the coming weeks. We begin by exploring the nature of drawing and its fundamental use for the artist. Students are introduced to a wide range of drawing processes, providing the opportunity to extend and deepen their understanding of the role of drawing in creative development. These will include: drawing based on the manipulation of surface and materials, the body and the senses, performance, language, sound, the experience of architectural space, memory, observation, the diagram, and an introduction to drawing in relation to time-based work (involving scale, rhythm and sequencing).
We follow this with an in depth investigation into processes of making and the application of ideas. Initially as a group, then individually, students will generate work from supplied and found materials. This project follows the evolution of work from the sculptural to the pictorial and explores many of the stages in between. Ideas from drawing will be extended and translated through and into painting, sculpture, further drawing and experimental photography. Students are encouraged to extend their understanding of form and explore the physical, spatial and imaginative qualities of materials. The aim of this introductory period is to place an emphasis on drawing as an imaginative tool for the invention and generation of ideas, to develop students’ individual creative approaches through experiencing a wide range of media, and from which they can expect to gain confidence in visual awareness and develop imaginative ambitions for the realisation of their work. This introduction sets an intense pace for the following weeks.
By week four, although structured teaching will continue in part, students will already have some experience of working independently and will have generated a range of ideas and objects, equipping them to start developing their own work.
Each student will have a space in the beautiful Slade studios, for individual studio-based enquiry. Emphasis is placed on exploring personal ideas, sustaining open dialogue with their peers and tutors and experimenting with new and traditional techniques. Students are encouraged to work intensively to develop their own vision.
Alongside individual research and practice there will be a number of optional specialist workshops taught by invited artists as the course develops. These include subjects such as: order in space and experimental geometry workshops in 2D and 3D; video sketch and light projection; performance and documentation; experimental analogue photography; colour and light: exploring how colour informs our space, perception and imagination; technical research in painting and sculpture: making supports, grounds and mediums for painting, making armatures, casting and working with wax, plaster, latex and clay or other pertinent materials for sculpture; the artist’s book and basic bookbinding; low tech printmaking; contemporary video practice and analogue film.
For the introductory period and for the later workshops, most of the basic materials are provided, however as independent working progresses students will be expected to provide their own materials — a detailed suggested materials list will be provided before the course begins.
A rich and diverse extra curricular programme will run for the duration of the Summer school on three evenings of each week, and is open to the foundation course as well as students from across our Summer School programme. The history of art and contextual studies programme includes lectures, gallery visits, artists’ talks and seminars. There is also a vibrant community of Slade student residents (BA, MA and PhD) who are elected to undertake residencies during the summer so that they can discuss ideas and share their experiences with summer school students.
An important part of this Foundation course is the regular group and one-to-one tutorials that support students progress during the course. Guidance will be provided for students to document their work and record the creative process in preparation for developing their portfolio. The last two weeks are organised around curating, installing and documenting an exhibition of work that culminates in a final critique focusing on each student’s strengths and achievements.
The critique is led by a Slade Professor, and is followed by a Private View open to the public for students, their guests, and visitors. Portfolio reviews and feedback interviews are available in the closing stages of the course, providing a platform for discussion centred on future plans.
In order to gain maximum benefit from our foundation the course must be taken in full. A certificate of attendance will be awarded, but please do note that this is not an accredited Foundation course.