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Furness students stand up for the Arts

Foundation Art students at exhibition of their final projects at Barrow Sixth Form this month

Art students from Barrow Sixth Form have demonstrated their commitment to arts subjects in a week where a university group has re-evaluated the importance of creativity.

The Russell Group of 24 research-led universities has scrapped its controversial preferred list of A levels, which have been said to devalue arts subjects.

This week the 13 students, who are all on the foundation course at the Rating Lane campus, showcased their final major projects.

They ranged from interior design of a hotel to a luxury holiday retreat, sporting-themed artwork for a gym, a sculpture trail for Grizedale Forest and a campaign highlighting the need for creative arts subjects.

Lauren Baines, who created the photography-based promotional campaign in support of the Arts and will now study a photography degree in Leeds, said the creative industries are worth £101billion a year to the UK economy.

“I chose this topic as creative subjects such as art, photography, music, dance, performing arts, media and much more are oppressed by society and the government,” she said.

“Many people believe that an education or degree in the arts is useless or a waste of time but the fact is they contribute billions to the UK economy each year, far more than most non-creative jobs.”

Nikki Conigliaro, who leads art and design at the college, welcomed the range of creativity in the projects, which is the biggest to date.

“We recognise that this area is very STEM-focused and this is what the majority of industry wants but students can do arts subjects alongside maths and sciences and they are often the ones who go on to achieve at the highest level

“At Rating Lane we now have a Centre of Excellence for Art where students can come in to college and do A level art – even without GCSE art – and still progress into the creative sector.”

“We have had so much variety this year with animation, architecture, graphic design, textiles, interiors, sculpture and fashion design.”

She said Charisse Gozun, who had not studied art at GCSE, has got into Kingston University in London to study interior design which is one of the top universities for this degree.

All the students who wanted to go to university have secured places, with the majority achieving their first-choice.

There were also two students taking paths into other degrees, including primary teaching and sports performance and fitness teaching, which Nikki said shows how art can be combined successfully with other studies.

Lauren Niven’s project to build a holiday annex included lit scale models was one of the stand-outs of the exhibition.

“It was extremely well-researched and took into account the regulations of the national park, she even considered the angle of the solar panels to maximise energy and the positioning on the plot of land, there was so much detail,” said Nikki. Lauren will now study architecture at university.

Furness College Principal and Chief Executive Andrew Wren said: “What is really important is that we continue to offer all-round education for our students with a range of arts and humanities subjects. As a college, we have the biggest choice of subjects available in Cumbria and we offer different entry levels for media subjects, performing arts and dance, which continue to be popular choices for our students.”

The students exhibiting were: Lauren Baines, Nadya Cheetham, Caitlin Daw, Sam Dudley, Charisse Gozun, Charlotte Hutton, Brianna Morrish, Tom Mortlock-Jackson, Lauren Niven, Jussy Saltiga, Lois Taylor, Jake Whillance and Megan Yip.

The BTEC Foundation Diploma in Art and Design is a one-year post A level course to prepare students for entry to degree-level art and design programmes. It runs at the college’s Centre for Excellence for Art and Design at Rating Lane and aims to develop conceptual and practical skills so students can make the most of a university course.

In addition, four students from the early years education department at Furness College’s Channelside campus spent four days at Victoria Academy in the past week supporting primary pupils throughout the school’s creative arts week. They were Elly Crawford, Natalie Irwin, Josh Gardner and Amy Brown.

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