Hope Fox at Summer Show Awards

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A Foundation for success – Meet designer Hope Fox

We sat down with Hope to talk about why she recommends the Foundation Diploma in Art & Design to everyone who she meets, how she received unconditional offers from every university that she applied to, and feeling supported as a student with disabilities.
<p dir="ltr">20-year-old BA (Hons) Interior Design &amp; Styling student Hope Fox, from Bovey Tracey, Newton Abbot, Devon, is a Student Ambassador and passionate advocate for the value of the Foundation Diploma in Art &amp; Design.</p> <p dir="ltr">Hope completed a <a href="https://www.aup.ac.uk/courses/undergraduate/foundation-diploma-in-art-and-design-post-a-level">Foundation Diploma in Art &amp; Design</a> with Arts University Plymouth between September 2022 and June 2023, before making the decision to stay with us to complete a degree. Already showing a flair for textiles and interior spaces, Hope was chosen as one of our emerging <a href="https://www.aup.ac.uk/posts/emerging-creators-to-watch-arts-university-plymouths-pre-degree-sixth-form-class-of-2023">creators to watch out for</a>, based on her redesign of the quiet space on our Pre-Degree campus, with an enhanced focus on supporting neurodiversity and mental health.</p> <p dir="ltr">We sat down with Hope to talk about why she recommends the Foundation Diploma in Art &amp; Design to everyone who she meets, how she received unconditional offers from every university that she applied to, and feeling supported as a student with disabilities.</p>
<p>When I started studying at secondary school, I thought that I hated art, because art as a subject was so prescriptive in school and I felt constrained by a very narrow view of what art could be. It felt like drawing, painting and photography were the only routes really available to me if I wanted to study art at school.</p> <p dir="ltr">I studied A-Levels in Graphic Design, History and Media Studies at a college in Exeter. Graphic Design at A-Level gave a slightly broader view of what art could be, but I was still conscious that there were so many things I wanted to try but couldn’t access yet. I wanted to feel ready for university, but I wanted to try more options before committing to what to study for the next three years.<br /></p>
Hope Fox Wellness Room

Hope Fox

<p dir="ltr">If I’m honest, I found the step up from GCSEs to A-Levels to be quite full on. By the end of my A-Levels I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study next because I didn’t feel like I’d tried enough different things to make a decision. I didn’t feel ready to move on yet, so I wanted an option where I’d have a year to get myself sorted and feel really ready for university.</p> <p dir="ltr">The college where I was studying offered the UAL Foundation Diploma in Art &amp; Design, so I thought I would stay at college and do that for a year. On a whim, I looked to see if anywhere else in the south west was offering it, and I saw that Arts University Plymouth also taught it. Coming to Arts University Plymouth would mean travelling double the distance from my home in Newton Abbot, so I compromised by booking to visit on an Open Day but feeling like Arts University Plymouth would have to really wow me to win me over.<br /></p>
<p dir="ltr">I visited an Open Day at Arts University Plymouth and was blown away. Because the Foundation Diploma in Art &amp; Design here is part of a bigger university, you have access to facilities, academic expertise and industry-standard equipment that other places just can’t compete with.</p> <p dir="ltr">After that, I felt like I’d go to see the Foundation Diploma in Art &amp; Design at an Open Day at my old college, hoping they’d really wow me and win me back, but they didn’t. There was no comparison, Arts University Plymouth offered so much more.</p>
Hope Fox at Summer Show Awards

Hope receiving her award from Professor Paul Fieldsend-Danks at the Summer Show Awards 2023

<p dir="ltr">I absolutely loved my Foundation Diploma in Art &amp; Design here. I honestly feel like I found myself in that year. Coming here was the first time I’d been in an environment where everyone around me was also creative. What struck me was how easy it was to settle in at Arts University Plymouth and to find good friendship groups.</p> <p dir="ltr">Straight away I met so many amazing people. I made friends with people who were interested in illustration, costume design, fine art, fashion design, interior design… Everyone had different specialisms, students and staff alike, so we were able to bounce ideas off each other.</p> <p dir="ltr">In secondary school and college I struggled with friendships. There were undiagnosed health problems that I was struggling with and it felt really hard to fit in with the people there. From the moment I joined Arts University Plymouth it was easy to make friends, because there were so many creative people, like me. I had a great time from day one, and that continued when I started a degree here.<br /></p>
<p dir="ltr">Such a big mix of people choose a Foundation Diploma. For example, some of my classmates lived in student halls, whereas some were still living at home with their parents. There were students like me who’d just completed their A-Levels, some who’d studied an Extended Diploma at Arts University Plymouth instead, some who’d finished a BTEC and some who’d been out of education for a while. There was even one student in the previous year who’d relocated from Austria!</p> <p dir="ltr">In my class the ages of the other students ranged from about 18 to at least 23, but honestly, you don’t need to ask how old they are. Once you get a feel for the different life experiences that everyone brings, it opens your eyes. I felt like I really grew as a person by encountering so many new people and finding out what was different about us and what we had in common.<br /></p>
Hope Fox Summer Show 1

Hope's work at the Summer Show

<p dir="ltr">Throughout the year it really felt like we tried a bit of everything, before being given opportunities to specialise and really pursue the areas that interested us most. There was so much, I’ll never remember it all. In the beginning, you try everything, so we tried out drawing machines, ceramics, performance art, sculpture, illustration, glass, cyanotype photography, animation, metals, filmmaking, textiles, printmaking, woodwork… The amazing thing is that once you’re inducted and trained in how to use an area of the university, you can go back and book out space and equipment to spend more time in the darkroom or the pottery wheels or whatever you felt most excited about.</p> <p dir="ltr">Later you’ll choose a pathway to specialise. I chose textiles and so we’d do a lot of two-week projects, one week to learn the skills and the second to make your own project. At the end of that section of your studies you create a project that interests you and exhibit the results at the end. I created a range of lampshades based around Dartmoor folklore, using sublimation printing, block printing, cyanotypes, painting and dyeing. All new things that I’d learned during my studies!<br /></p> <p dir="ltr">At the end of the year, you work on a final major project. One of my friends painted two murals, one outside Palace Studios where we were based, and one on Ocean Studios at Royal William Yard. I redesigned the quiet space used by students across the Pre-Degree campus, and won an award for the end result. I spent a lot of time working directly with technicians in the woodworking studios in the main university campus. It was really rewarding to take what I’d learned and put it into action.<br /></p>
<p dir="ltr">Oh, the lecturers are fabulous. They all have such a range of specialisms, spanning things like photography, fine art, textiles and more. Because the course is attached to a wider arts university, any skills that the Foundation teaching staff couldn’t help with, they could bring in a member of the main university technical support team to teach us. You always get a specialist.</p> <p dir="ltr">Maddy Blyth, the Foundation Diploma Course Leader, was also so supportive, it’s incredible. Arts University Plymouth has a dedicated Student Support team but I never actually had to use them during my Foundation Diploma because Maddy was so helpful. I learned that if I just communicated my needs clearly, everyone was happy to make accommodations when they could.<br /></p>
Hope Fox Summer Show 2

Hope's work at the Summer Show

<p dir="ltr">To succeed doing A-Levels at school or college, you usually have to work in a set way, which doesn’t give you the independence that you’re going to need to succeed at university. They teach you to pass an exam. The Foundation Diploma in Art &amp; Design breaks down your preconceptions and gives you the skills you’ll need to do well at university, and at life. I learned how to work independently, how to manage my time… The Foundation Diploma rewired my brain for university-level study.</p> <p dir="ltr">I should also say that part of the Foundation Diploma is that you build a portfolio to give an overview of your skills and strengths. As well as creating a wide body of work that can go into a portfolio, the lecturers will go through it with you and help you to select work that best showcases your abilities. Honestly, when it became time to apply for a degree, every university that I applied to gave me an unconditional offer, and many of my classmates were the same. Universities really value the skills that the Foundation Diploma equips you with.<br /></p>
<p dir="ltr">After the success of my Foundation Diploma, I moved onto a BA (Hons) degree in Interior Design &amp; Styling. There was no question that I wanted to stay at Arts University Plymouth. I’m already really enjoying studying interior design and styling. They bring in so many industry figures, live briefs and guest lecturers. You get to hear from all these different perspectives, while forging connections that you know are going to help you when you’re entering the industry.</p> <p dir="ltr">I also signed up to become a Student Ambassador in the first month of my degree, which gives me opportunities to help out at events and Open Days and earn some extra money. I really love speaking to prospective students. One of the things that I feel like I can offer is a perspective on life as a disabled student, because I have ME/CFS and autism, so I can reassure applicants that they’re going to be supported to succeed here, like I am.<br /></p>

<p dir="ltr">To find out more about the Foundation Diploma at Arts University Plymouth, the next <a href="https://www.aup.ac.uk/open-days">Open Day</a> will be held on Saturday 13 January 2024, with opportunities to meet expert academics, speak to current students and get a taste for life at the UK’s newest independent arts university.<br /></p>