Central Sussex College students explore aquatic artistry

Visual arts students with lecturers at the Brighton Sea Life Centre SUS-141218-140549001
Visual arts students with lecturers at the Brighton Sea Life Centre SUS-141218-140549001

Visual Arts students from Central Sussex College’s Sixth Form Haywards Heath have been working with contemporary art gallery, Fabrica in Brighton, throughout November in a series of specialist workshops.

The project evolved as a response to the commissioned art project entitled, ‘REEF’, by artist Simon Faithfull, on show earlier this autumn. The artwork documents the journey of a sunken boat off the English Coast. Five cameras placed on the boat capture and report back its transformation from sunken vessel to artificial reef, generating an ecosystem beneath the waves.

The students worked with Brighton-based artist Jane Fordham, to explore different ways of using the theme of ‘REEF’ to develop ideas and imagery within their own work. They were given a journal to record their thoughts and drawings for the duration of the workshops.

Across three days, students developed their work both inside and outside of the gallery, starting in the Brighton Sea Life Centre drawing and imagining the underwater world of ‘REEF’. The students documented the strange, colourful, sub-aquatic landscape in their journals, creating ‘sound diaries’ by accompanying their sketches with audio descriptions of their work. They ended the first day on the beach, collecting organic materials such as feathers, shells and driftwood.

On the second day the students braved the winter gales, wrapping up warm to spend the day sketching on the seafront. The churn of the breaking waves and the weathered interior of the off-season promenade provided the perfect backdrop for the day’s activities, offering countless sources of inspiration. Returning to the gallery, the students projected and up-scaled their work, incorporating the outside environment by using found driftwood, feathers, and seaweed to create their drawings.

The final day saw the students get to work making their own underwater worlds using jars, and found and recycled materials. Backlighting their work using ultra violet torches, the students transformed their miniature worlds into extraordinary works of art, complementing Faithfull’s installation.

Visual Arts Lecturer, Sean Walsh said, “This was a brilliant opportunity for our students to work with an artist, and to be exposed to both an inventive artwork and an exciting contemporary gallery. They came away with a real idea of ‘what artists do all day’. The workshop taught them much about how the visual arts profession industry works as well as providing them with a unique creative opportunity.”

For more information about Visual Arts and other courses available at the Sixth Form Haywards Heath, visit www.centralsussex.ac.uk/sixthform. Applications now open for September 2015.

Report and pictures contributed by Central Sussex College.