Monthly Archives: June 2009

26th June 2009 Loughborough University

It was a grey, cloudy drive down via Woodhead Pass, a journey of two and a quarter hours. The campus is extremely close to the M1, and there were no problems parking on the estate close by. All the University entrances had barriers: normal entry appeared to be by card access. The sun emerged as we walked across.
We entered the campus on the North, and walked towards the centre past clean and modern looking accommodation blocks. There were lots of grassy areas and places for students to sit; interestingly shaped, mature trees. All around visitors were walking from one place to the next; there were a lot of areas open for inspection. The main exhibition area was in a large hall at the centre, where there were general and subject-specific desks. Lots of people, but quite fast to get chatting.
Cat spoke to a girl who had taken Illustration at Loughborough – she said it was hard work, but a brilliant course. They did things such as a body map, drawing stations in the rain, and drawing (say) the Queen of Hearts without using a queen or a heart. We checked out the sandwich shop and cafe, but they were a bit bland and meh. The Open Day had been VERY well organised, with trails of balloons leading to the various parts of campus. First, we followed the blue balloons to talk to the Accommodation people, who gave us leaflets showing where to fins all the different accommodation blocks. The one for Art students was down at the East end, near the Arts & Design building, so we thought we’d save that till last, and wandered over to the Students Union.
It seemed fairly typical – bars and activities, but the food on offer was much better than in the middle of campus, and Cat was impressed by the array of items for sale in the Union shop – they had a section of Chinese food!
Then down to LUSAD – Lancaster University School of Art & Design, which was in a separate building across a main road, well served by quick-to-change traffic lights. First we spoke to the Foundation Course rep. She said they taught Basic skills, but above and beyond those taught at A level – including colour & 3D appreciation. Then, in stages, tasters of specialism, option choices, final specialisation and a project. Students doing the Foundation year at Loughborough automatically progressed onto the degree course.
Finally, we spoke to the rather brilliant guy in charge of Visual Communications, who taught both in Illustration and Graphic Design. He quickly engaged Cat in a discussion about animé, and later gained brownie points when others arrived by saying “as I was just telling Cat here”.
He told us they develop “thinking skills”, and help students develop a portfolio targeted at the area the student decides they want to eventually go into. Students discover the PROCESS of producing work – correcting what was wrong to make a piece better. There’s a lot of animation in the course. In a portfolio at interview he looks for –

  • Good life drawing skills
  • Lots and lots of drawing
  • Prep work – sketches and so on
  • Ideas!
  • Material experimentaion
  • and wants students to be involved and excited about their work.

He suggested finding some Animation software (Indesign?). Great bloke.
Finally we took a look at a flat in the block for Art students – it was really big, about double the size of Ellie’s, and we thought at first it was a double, for there was a double bed and two wardrobes. En-suite – really nice facilities, and a good desk area. The kitchen, shared by five, was clean and well-appointed, with a telly!
Cat liked Loughborough, 9 / 10

6th June 2009 Glyndwr University

The University in Wrexham. Being in Wales is one bonus straight away. The campus was easy enough to find, about an hour from home, but the actual entrance was hidden behind bushes and not well signed – I drove past once before finding it.
Walked across campus to the hall where the stalls were, and found that Illustration was housed in a building about a mile down the road. Naff organisation not to tell us this before we got there. Still, a pleasant young man drove us down there in a Uni car, giving Cat a chance to grill him about life at Glyndwr.
The Art building is a former hospital, and said to be haunted. It seems an interesting environment in which to work, but the guy who taught Illustration for Graphic Novels was not around, so we chatted to a blondie who taught design. Seemed OK, and made the right sort of noises, but not what you’d call inspiring.
Back on the main campus for a general talk by the head of Graphic Design, who was very good. Cat and I grabbed him afterwards to ask some specific questions – the thrust was that the portfolio was important, and they look for passion.
A tour of the small campus followed – it was very pleasant, but there did not seem to be much green space for students to lounge around in. The en-suite accommodation we saw was poky, a bit grubby, and a cupboard handle had fallen off.
Cat grabbed a passing student, who took us to see the library, which was bright, airy and very well-equipped. A definite big tick for the library.
Overall, 5/10 I reckon.

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