Wimbledon School of Art
2 reviews from the community
Review of "Wimbledon School of Art"
Applying to Art School? Then I assume you have read most of the information on Central St. Martins, Goldsmiths, probably Glasgow, and maybe even Liverpool; but have you considered wombling off to Wimbledon? If not, then let me tell you of a few of the pros and cons of Wimbledon School of Art ( which is accredited by the University of London).There are two main buildings at Wimbledon; the Terry Bruen Building is just behind the theatre on Palmerston Road, and this is were you would have your interview and spend your first year, doing your foundation. It is the smaller of the two, but equally well equipped for all of your artistic needs. The foundation year will begin with a general practice couple of months; you will try your hand at sculpture, figure drawing, graphics, fashion, painting, ceramics, theatre design and 3-D design. The going is tough, as each project will require your enthusiasm and concentration, should you wish to receive a good mark at the end - this is probably the hardest time for most students, as they have just come from the discipline of a-levels, or the relaxation of a year out in Thailand. It’s also hard going as most students already have an idea of which practice they wish to pursue: If you are talented as a painter, it doesn’t necessarily follow that you will be any good at fashion or ceramics.
The school attracts quite a wide range of pupils, so one would hope that you would be able to make friends quite easily over the first couple of weeks. The tutors are usually pretty friendly as well, always open to your questions and willing to offer advice.The most efficient of the departments are Theatre, Fashion and Fine Arts (painting and sculpture): The theatre division HAS to excel, as the main school’s reputation rather hinges on their theatre department. Fashion foundation at Wimbledon has a sound reputation with the colleges one would apply to from there - namely St. Martins. (It is rare for a student studying fashion at Wimbledon not to get excepted at St. Martins - saying that I do know one person who didn’t, but her work isn’t really commercial). The painting and sculpture departments push their students to create the best work that they can, and school them on the discussion and reasoning that informs their work - In my year, every student in these departments gained the place they had applied for for their degree. A lot of these students carried on their studies at Wimbledon, but don’t be fooled, there is very little in-house favoritism being carried out - the interview for a Wimbledon foundation student at the main school is just as difficult and terrifying as if it were for another art school or university.
On the ground floor: Ceramics, sculpture, 3-D design and a well equipped workplace for wood-carving, metal work etc.
On the first floor: Graphics, fashion and theatre.
On the second floor: Painting and drawing.
The first year of a bachelors degree is quite relaxed; most students spend their time in the canteen playing table football and pool; but yet again don’t be fooled: There are a series of mandatory lectures that each student has to produce a constructive notebook on at the end of each year - my husband, being French, didn’t realise this in his first year, and had to write up all his notes during the summer holiday.This is another good thing about the school: There are a lot of foreign students that study at Wimbledon, so it can be a really international experience if you let it - I have a great friend from Bulgaria I met here, as well as a friend in the Gazza Strip, and, of course, my French husband.
The entrance to the School usually showcases the students work, so that most visitors get an eyeful of the talent available. There are also large and well equipped lecture halls (the seats aren’t that comfortable - but that has to be so, otherwise the students would fall asleep), a very well stocked library that can inform you on Renaissance to Fluxus, and a small in house art shop, where you can buy most of the equipment that you will need at a discounted price.The painting department suffers a little under the fame of the theatre and sculpture departments; it’s a good division, well equipped and well taught, but it doesn’t really equal other alternative schools - saying that, there is a superb printing room, and photography is very well taught by some incredibly knowledgeable tutors.
The sculpture department is a power to be reckoned with: It has an organised usage of Canizaro Park (just beside Wimbledon Common), for show casing some of the school’s finest sculptures and on-site work/installations. Even if you are not involved in this department or even the school, the park is well worth the visit when the show is on; check www. wimbledon.ac.uk for details. I might add that the M.A. offered in sculpture at Wimbledon is also well worth looking into.By far the best department at Wimbledon is Theatre: It specialises in costume design (period or otherwise) and set design. The students have to write, stage and perform in their own pieces, periodically through the year; these are other events I would recommend to non-students, as they are thoroughly enjoyable and original. I know several ex students from this department: One designed the Spice Girls costumes, wedding dresses etc. (I know, not a great claim to fame - but it pays the bills), one who worked on Bram Stoker’s Dracula and consequently anything else to do with vampires, quite a few who work in theatre, and mostly, three others that work in the film industry - all of which are doing very well for themselves, thankyou.
The school always manages to whip up a lot of interest from outside during the final shows: A good friend of mine was picked up by an international art gallery at his final show, and has continued exhibiting with them successfully for the last six years. I also know of one individual who was bought by Saatchi at his final show, and others in the theatre department who were sponsored to continue their work and designs for London theatre productions.The down points of Wimbledon are these: It is not as big as many of the London based art schools and universities, therefore it can become a little incestuous and claustrophobic. It is also not based in the centre of London, so one has to become accustomed to the prices of the south west (it’s very expensive to live here), and it’s not so easy to get to, and back from central London, lest you should want to see a few exhibitions on your days off. The other departments are not as well defined or taught as the sculpture and theatre ones, so if you wish to study other subjects it may well be in your best interest to look else where for your degree course.
Overall, a great alternative art school for you to ponder over; if you do decide to apply and go to Wimbledon Art School, then I wish you the best of luck - and enjoy!Further information: www.wimbledon.ac.uk
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Listed on Ciao since: 21/03/2001