Your browser is unsupported and may have security vulnerabilities! Upgrade to a newer browser to experience this site in all it's glory.
Skip to main content

Art & Design Students Rise to the Lockdown Challenge

Art & Design Foundation Diploma students at York College have reflected on their year’s study and how lockdown has impacted on their final major projects.

Students have spoken frankly about their studies and adapting to the ‘new normal’ during Lockdown - often working in their bedroom, dining room, garden or any ‘space’. Circumstances have dictated they have had to learn to work with limited materials and access online tutorials, and as dynamic art students have demonstrated great resilience, flexibility and incredible creativity.

The Level 4 Art & Design Foundation Diploma, unlike A Level and Level 3 qualifications, has a final assessment (similar to the first year of a degree course) which is assessed and externally moderated. During lockdown, students have continued to make their ambitious Final Major Projects without the use of the College’s art studios and associated facilities.

Course Leader, Angela Newdick is immensely proud of all the students: “At first, for some students, it didn’t sink in that they would have to work from home for the remainder of the course. However, they quickly adapted and they have developed Final Major Projects by making the most out of what they have. Other factors such as home-schooling younger siblings whilst parents work in the key services, and having limited resources such as sewing machines and digital software, have added to their determination to complete their projects in such difficult and challenging circumstances. Good luck to all the students as they venture out into a world that has been changed in many ways by the Covid19 virus.”

The Art & Design Foundation Diploma is one of the longest running courses in the country, with a history stretching back to the York School of Art (based in the city’s Art Gallery). The one year course, typically studied after A Levels or similar Level 3 creative qualifications, prepares a portfolio for a specialist art and design degree course at university. The course attracts students from across Yorkshire, nationally and internationally, and has a fantastic reputation with Art and Design degree courses across the country.

Work by the Art & Design Foundation Diploma students will be featured in the College’s digital Creative Show in July.

If you are interested in applying for the Art & Design Foundation Diploma, applications are still being taken online. Either fill out an application form or contact Angela Newdick ( for further information.

Five students talk about their experiences:

Catie Gordon (formerly Archbishop Holgate School, York)
“So far I’m coping okay with lockdown, my sleep schedule is completely non-existent but I’m more creative at night so that’s okay. I’m lucky to have a lot of craft kits saved up from birthdays and I’m using them for materials.

Today I learned to weave string into fabric which was a fun experience, it could do with some refining but I enjoyed the process! I’m trying to just do one thing every day so I don’t fall out of the habit. It’s been hard dealing with lockdown, although I definitely don’t miss the commute to college everyday.

In an ideal world I’d like to just make things for people to enjoy. Characters and comics and posters. All that fun stuff. Next stop is hopefully Edinburgh College of Art to study for a degree in Illustration!”
Alice Whitaker (formerly of St Peters School, York)
“There have been countless ups and down along the course of the Foundation year, and this is the biggest challenge any of us have faced. The course, as a whole, has been so enjoyable - I have created work this year that I am truly proud of and that has given my portfolio a distinctive style.

Expecting to suddenly have all this extra time to focus solely on my Final Major Project, lockdown sounded like it would not be so bad. In reality, the combination of lacking regimented college time, missing your mates, not having the tutors at hand, can result in a very unproductive art student! I started lockdown with the best intentions; setting up a desk space with natural light and all the resources I thought I would need at arms-length, with an alarm that would go off every hour and a half so I could stick to the college timetable. It was not long before this changed to staying up into the wee hours of the morning in my bed, surrounded by half-finished blog entries, daily reflections, and art journals, watching some brain numbing movie!

Despite all this I have managed to create a few works that I have been photographing in various places, including the recently deserted York City centre, whilst making the most of my daily exercise period allowed by the government. Due to the fact I often work with sculpture, my house is now scattered with bits and pieces I am hanging onto just in case I find a way to develop them further. And, in order to get as good quality pictures of these pieces as I can, I have been taking them out into the garden, using the natural light and a piece of cardboard that I have painted white as a mock-up photography studio.

This experience has made me concerned about what it will be like to start university in September if lockdown is to continue. But if all does go to plan I am going to The University of Nottingham to study a degree in Architecture and Environmental Design.”
Daisy Maloney (Formerly of Scarborough Sixth Form College)
“This year has been great in allowing me to try new things within my work, experimenting with materials and has set me up with a strong portfolio for my university interviews! Without attending a foundation year I do not think I would have had the courage to apply for a fashion related course at university. This academic year has been great for many reasons, I have met some of my best friends and had fun throughout, especially on the trips (Castle and London)!

Lockdown is a massive change because when I am at College I am with similar people who enjoy art and design and the overall atmosphere is really motivational. At home I have less motivation but online tutoring has helped a lot. I decided to create a website which has been a great way for me to show my work and my tutors can access it and give me advice and useful feedback.

In September I will be attending Liverpool John Moores University to study Fashion communication. I hope to learn new skills which are useful for the industry, and I am excited to meet new people and live in a big city! Mostly I hope the course helps me to realise what exactly I want to do in the future.”
Freddie Johnson (Formerly of Pocklington School)
“This is my third and final year studying art at York College and my second year of discovering my passion for automotive design as a career path. I feel I have come along way and have had a completely different outcome to what I had expected.

During lockdown I am coping with the work load ok. I like working to my own time schedule and have saved a lot of money on fuel. I am missing my friends and my girlfriend but I’m still keeping in touch. Being taught remotely is obviously not quite the same but I suppose it is how most freelancers get their work via social media and email so it’s a good insight to that kind of work.

In terms of location and teaching, I think I’ll be happiest at Swansea College of Art, studying Automotive Design. I have made contact with current and past students from the course, and they have given me a good insight into how they feel about it, rather than the tutors.

My hopes for the future are to be part of a team of passionate, skilled and dedicated designers all working towards making incredible machines.”
Briony Wilson (Formerly of Millthorpe School, York)
"I haven’t set up a conventional studio space in my house, at first my whole studio was just my laptop, but now since I’ve started making things, I’ve taken over the whole house. I tend to work large and messy, so it's been a challenge to find space - and stop pets from walking on wet work.

At College I was used to seeing people every day - with our studio space becoming a sociable area and a place for us to bounce ideas off each other - this has been difficult with switching to home working, because I tend to revolve my work around the response and with only the company of my family, there are less responses to use to direct my work day to day.

Generally in lockdown, it’s difficult to find motivation, I’m struggling to get up before midday! The whole situation is both inspiring due to the unique situation and yet motivation crushing - every day is a repeat and everything is uncertain.

In September, (hopefully if universities are open) I’ll be going to Glasgow School of Art to study Environmental Art and Sculpture. If anything this lockdown has probably helped me adjust to working more independently, as you get less guidance at university.”
Course link