Level Four Art Foundation jump the pond and climatise to showcase creative instinct

Travel is important for many reasons; ongoing education, understanding of the implications in the modern world today, knowledge. Groundings of these experiences and reasoning set out the motives for creative journeys of the future. With this thought, a group of high-achieving students from our post 18-year-old course studying the UAL level 4 in Foundation in Art and Design, committed to embarking on a post-Atlantic trip to New York City.  The ambition was to further their creative education and showcase their work.



Research started before they even stepped onto US Soil. Understanding the importance of the Carbon Footprint each would make, with tutor support, choices were made to offset the trip by selecting tour companies and aeroplanes that their manifesto fitted in with the current drive to support our course, college and pollical values. Each student was even actively involved in a Carbon Literacy test, which sits in line with a need of fulfilling the learning outcomes as part of their qualification. Who would have known that day timings an aeroplane takes off or a certain type of paint would all add or reduce a carbon trail?!...

Empowered with this discussion, initially started in the Cambridge-based Long Road studios, the dialogue continued 1000’s of feet up in the air; Virgin Atlantic had only just launched their reduced Carbon long haul flights, no guesses as to who we were flying with!

Touch down, and after an ‘all-American welcome’ in JFK, we embarked on our week long research trip throughout ‘the city that never sleeps’, well, perhaps most would say the course leader did not allow us to sleep! With a heavily organised itinerary that once again meant stockpiling a all you can eat morning buffet for substance and even included finer details such as language storage to lighten the load!

Museums were a platform of information, with thoughts of reused objects and sustainability in mind, students had their sketchbooks at the ready to explore The Met, MOMA, Guggenheim. Of course, all the ‘normal’ tourist destinations and experiences were added to the bucket list, such as the Empire State Building, Ground Zero, views of the Statue of Liberty from the Ferry boat ride, Brooklyn Bridge and DUMBO…. Ice Skating in Central Park, while taking in the soft lines of natural forms from the park to harsh architectural skyscrapers steel limbs of each structure. This continued into an Apple workshop based on photography in the surrounding city scape and allowed the students to immerse themselves in the ‘All American Cultural’. There was always an opportunity to get a little retail theory in, while happy snapping the bright lights of Time Square and Chelsea Flea Market, most used this to full extent.

Food, Food, Food… I think it is safe to say most of us ate our way through New York with meals already organised for the trip, most still could not resist a sugary ‘pick me up’ in the form of a doughnut, or try the native Delis on each street.

Towards the end of the week, we briefed the students to make an item to be presented in a Popup exhibition / discussion in The Climate Control Museum. Armed with weeks of research and understanding of environmental impacts, we could not have been prouder of the concepts, considerations and the discussions surrounding their work and presentations. It was truly an experience not to be forgotten.

A deep breath of mixed emotions, of sadness that it had come to an end and relief, having all returned in one piece, came when boarding our airport transfer back to the college. The memories and experiences are still rippling throughout the students' work and studio spaces, so perhaps the trip has finished but the impact lives on.