Newmarket has a longstanding relationship with Whitecliffe College of Arts & Design, with the Newmarket Young Fashion Designer Awards having been a key feature of local fashion awards for 7 years. In 2017, the award has evolved to become a Young Creative Scholarship, where one student will have their first 2 years of study financially supported by Newmarket. Ophelia Kingdon is the 2017 recipient of the scholarship and will be blogging about her journey as a first year fashion student here…..
My first few days at Whitecliffe have gone by in a flash – three days of orientation and one day of classes.
The first time my classmates and I were spoken to as a cohort, we were immediately told that we are at Whitecliffe because we are all artists. That if we’re not here to be an artist, if we go home and take on another persona nothing to do with what we are studying at Whitecliffe, we are at the wrong place. It was immediately apparent that everyone in the room was indeed at the right place.
On the first morning of orientation, I was introduced to the staff and tutors – most of which spoke to us briefly about how the year is going to flow. We were given all the basic logistics of the school. Where classes are held, how they will function, and how this will change and progress throughout the year.
Fashion is the only choice of Major which is taught right from the beginning of the first year, meaning that I can look forward to my fashion classes beginning straight away.
It is so exciting to be somewhere that is solely arts orientated, with access to all of its facilities and research archives to help me to be as informed about my studies as possible throughout this year.
I’m ready for whatever this year has in store for me!
Month One – March:
In year one for all art students at Whitecliffe, we all take 3 classes that are consistent for all students regardless of their choice of major. These classes are Design, Drawing, and Materials and Processes. Each of these classes has the aim developing various skills that are important for any young designer and artist.
The first month has been pretty hectic. Learning new terminology and an entire new approach to work. It couldn’t be further from the realities of my last year at high school in 2016, but in the best way possible. It’s busy, but it’s fun, and I am enjoying every minute of it. My workload hardly even feels like work because the kind of assignments I am being given are the sorts of things that I have enjoyed doing in my own spare time in the past.
Drawing is an important skill to master because it is all about noticing and seeing, something which you wouldn’t usually take the time to do in everyday life. To really look at something. The funny thing – and the thing I am constantly reminded with drawing – is to try and stop drawing what you think should be there, but to really look, and draw what is actually there. This is harder than you’d think.
I have been participating in life drawing classes on Wednesday mornings. These I find really interesting because it isn’t often you get the opportunity to look at the human form solely for observational purposes. The human body is also quite unforgiving, so the proportions must be perfectly right. This drawing practice will most certainly come in handy later in the year when my fashion classes properly kick later in the year and i begin to do my own fashion
The end of March brought all my classes for the first half of Semester 1 to an end – all assessments and pieces of artwork were handed in.
One project I worked on this term that particularly inspired me was for my Materials and Processes class. This is a class that focuses less on completing a resolved artwork, but focuses more on one’s use of materials available to them, and the different ways those materials can be used and manipulated.
I was inspired by an artist named Sebastian Wickeroth whose artwork follows his philosophy of “constructing deconstruction”. I wanted to embark on a project where in order to create my final artwork, I had to ‘destroy’ a material. This resulted in me creating a series of art where I melted various types of plastics using different methods of starting and spreading fire. I then spray painted the final melted pieces black to create a sense coherency between them.
For my final piece, I continued to disregard colour entirely, and spray painted it black. Not only does this aesthetically appeal to me more, but I thought it would better reference my ‘process’ of burning and melting my materials.
My classes are acting as the perfect building blocks to begin my Fashion major later in the year.
I am hoping to continue this type of thought and manipulation of materials, where I can explore techniques and ways of changing the properties of materials in order to help with my designs in fashion.
Verging on the completion of four months here at Whitecliffe, I have begun to integrate my core classes with fashion. A brief given to me for my Materials and Processes class states that we must must choose an artwork to a) create a personal artistic response and b) then create a series of work developing our interpretation. The artworks available to choose were ones chosen by my lecturers. I chose a photograph featuring the design work Martijn Van Strien, featured in the image below. What I love most about this is the careful medieval inspired segments of garments – they are merely small pieces of what would otherwise be very extravagant outfits of their time. These pieces have been placed in a contemporary context and as you can see, the three men pictured are even wearing sweatpants. I have decided for this response I am going to create my own small series of garments inspired by this medieval style of clothing, known as Cockaigne. The definition of the word itself means “an imaginary land of easy and luxurious living”. I want to focus less on the technicalities of putting garments together, but more on the way I can manipulate fabrics to create my desired effects, even if it is not how these garments would traditionally be constructed. This is also how I will be giving it its own contemporary twist, like the photograph.
During the last month I completed the project I mentioned before – where I wanted to create my own series of Cockaigne inspired garments. I created a series of disjointed garments out of various fabrics and materials including wool, satin, plastic, ribbon and paper. These were all chosen for either their relevance to Cockaigne fashion or the effect created when shown in various types of lighting. I took photographs of these pieces in a way which best emphasised the qualities I wanted to show (light and texture) rather than presenting the garments themselves. The photographs I chose for my final series were almost non-objective. The photographs featured texture, highlights and shadow – I didn’t want it to appear too obvious as to what it was that I had photographed. This was my one of my final assessments for the first semester at Whitecliffe and I’ll be back there in a month!
What I am currently learning is the basics of how to make and manipulate a pattern. Which – in its simplest definition is a plan, or I suppose a blueprint to a garment or piece of clothing. I’m learning how to correctly shape and measure patterns which will become the building blocks to anything I would ever wish to create. It is quite a technical skill, and in all honesty is something I’d been reasonably ambivalent about before, simply because I had no real understanding of it. My experience with pattern making has so far (before starting at Whitecliffe) been made up of two terms of fabric classes in year 12 at high school. Although at first I found learning so many new “technical” things so daunting, I’m starting to get the hang of it. The precision involved definitely starts to feel satisfying. I’m learning that there is a correct way of manipulating any kind of pattern I might want to try and make, rather than the rough that’ll-do-the-trick solutions I’ve managed to come up with when trying to make clothes at home in my own time with no proper schooling. I remember frustratedly trying to put things together that just wouldn’t fit on my body how I wanted. Now I can look forward to having the right skill set to be able to make my own designs later on this year and further on in my degree.