My Time In An Art & Design Foundation Course

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Yn Gymraeg // In Welsh

Okay, so I’m fully aware that’s it’s been a while since I’ve posted something onto the site, mainly due to my university studies keeping me from doing hardly anything productive in my spare time. But now I can finally say that I have finished my year-long Foundation Course, which I ended up passing with a Merit, something I truly didn’t believe I would end up getting in the end. But that was just over two weeks ago and now I have time to get myself sorted out for when I move over to Cardiff to actually begin my three year degree.

For those who don’t know, and that’s most likely everyone reading this article, in September of 2013 I began a year-long Foundation Course in Art & Design which was in the University of South Wales (formerly University of Glamorgan) while at the Treforest campus. During my time there I learnt different types of artistic teachings before choosing to specialise in one of the seven fields that I had brief experiences with up until the Christmas Holidays. The fields included Graphic Design, 3D, Photography, Fashion & Textiles, Illustration, Animation and Fine Art. Ultimately, I ended up specialising in Animation where we worked on different themed assignments that led up to the Final Major Project during March until the end of May. Then, once the project was done, we set up an open exhibition of our FMP (Final Major Project) work for the open public to see for the final week of the course. After that week was done, we took all of our work home, got our grades and then decided on what happens next in our lives.

I, of course, ended up choosing to study Animation at the ATRiuM: Cardiff School of Creative and Cultural Industries, which will begin sometime mid-September, and I truly cannot wait! Until then, I guess I can start to post here more often. (Lucky all of you I’m sure…) I’m also in desperate need of catching up with some of my anime shows, my computer/console games and maybe I’ll end up watching that Game of Thrones show that everyone has been going nuts for since its creation. But while I’m doing all of this and thinking towards the future, I need to pay my sincere respects to everything that has happened to me over the last year. So bear with me readers, the feels may be brought out frpm this point on.

So, before I began my Foundation Course, I was in a different degree at Aberystwyth University for a year and a half. The reason why it’s a year and a half is because I decided during my second year that I was unhappy where I was. Now, don’t get me wrong, this has nothing to do with the teachings of the degree I was a part of, or the town. I adore Aberystwyth as a place, a really nice place to go for a few days if you get the chance. And no, this has nothing to do with my original Radical Rant on the Job Economy, which did stem from Aberystwyth (I’ll say this now since I don’t think I did at the time of writing the article). No, this was mainly due to the course itself making me unhappy. It was a programming course, something I had zero experience with when I first started. I was getting used to it during the first half of the first year, but during the second half and the time I spent during the second year, it was clear that programming was not what I’m meant to be doing. I’ll leave that to the people who want to do it as a full-time job, and I fully respect anyone who wants to be a programmer, because I cannot for the life of me get used to hours of coding and getting things wrong and even worse, and, well I’ll just leave it for the people who know what they are doing.

Another reason, a tad bit more personal that helped push my decision into leaving, was a falling out with a friend that I had the pleasure of meeting during my time in Aberystwyth. Basically, we originally met in Halls of Residence during the first year; he was a heck of a laugh to be with, as were a lot of the people I got to know, and I was surprised that he and the others offered me to live with them in private accommodation. So come the time of the second year, we were all enjoying ourselves, freshers (even though we weren’t technically freshers), as you expect from a crazy bunch of uni students. But then, something happened to me, and it wasn’t good.

The unhappiness in my current course, being so far away from home, added to other issues with my health, all turned me into something I was not. So, basically, I said something nasty to him on social media that he didn’t take too kindly to. I tried to apologise to him about it, but he would not have any of it. And that was that, I lost possibly one of the greatest friends I ever had, all due to social media (yeah, of all the things to break a friendship. Take this lesson to heart readers). During the rest of my time up until the end of the term, I spent my time hiding myself in my room, avoiding not just him, but everyone in the house. I avoided anyone besides the lecturers at the campus, but even then I skipped classes, didn’t do any of the assignments given to us, failed in presentations we were given, I just didn’t want anything to do with anyone or to do anything they told me to do. I wanted to be alone, yet I wanted someone to be here. I even remember leaving the house, finding a quiet place away from anyone to see me, where I’d just cry. I know this sounds sad to hear, or even pathetic, and yes, I’m sure it is pathetic. But that’s what all of this stress and anger and being alone did, it turned me into a mess. It came to the point where I’d full on bawl every ten minutes, in the open public even. I’d have to fight tears while walking in the town, on the bus, on the campus, and in my room even, knowing I couldn’t talk to anyone about any of this. So I made the decision that I couldn’t take it anymore, and I withdrew from Aberystwyth in December 2012.

During my recovery time, I was actually given anti-depressant tablets and I am still on them now to this day, and I needed time to think about what I wanted to do. During this time I was watching nonstop animation of different kinds. American Animation, Japanese Animation/Anime, Video Game Animation, Flash Animation created online, anything that would put my mind at ease. And then it hit me, all of this is making me much more calm, it’s making me…happy. Something I haven’t truly been in a number of years. Then, I remembered my time in art at comprehensive school. I mean, I wasn’t great at it and there was only so much we could do, as is the case with all comprehensive art subjects, but I remember the joys I had during these times and I wanted that again. So, I decided to apply to the University of South Wales, with the Foundation Course in Art & Design as I remember my Head of Art telling me how much she regretted not doing it and to truly go for it if I ever get the chance. So I did, and I ended up getting accepted into the course! Even though I was still in a bad state of mind during this time, for that one moment, I felt like things were going to change. And slowly, but ever so surely, they did.

My time in the Foundation Course has taught me so much. It’s had me experience different skills with art that I never had the chance to experience in school. It has given me much more independence, especially during our specialist assignments and Final Major Project – something I needed to get better with. It also introduced me to so many amazing people, tutors and fellow students alike. To think, that there are so many creative and wacky people out there, regardless of age, similar to, or even, just like me. And then there are the trips we had. I had my first taste of London during a weekend over there, looking through the different museums and galleries around the city, which was so good to see. Then going to Bristol Zoo was fantastic, seeing all the different creatures that were a part of it all, drawing them and having a general fun day out. The lions were clearly my favourite part, especially the one who walked up right to the glass staring at me while I drew him, even scratching to try and get my attention. I was awestruck, partly from fear, but mainly from just sheer happiness, because, well…lions. Need I say more?

But you want to talk about experiences. It would be a crime not to mention my week staying in Venice all the way in Italy. First of all, I never flew before, but oh my day, did I love it! My first time flying is something I’ll never forget, even though I slept during an hour of it because we had to be at the Treforest train station for five in the morning. Or six, either way, it was too early for this one. As for Venice itself? Breath-taking, just, I cannot explain in words how much this place hit me. All of the architecture, the food, all the world exhibitions at La Biennale, THE FOOD! Even the flooding, which, my gosh, when they said Venice floods easily, they were not kidding. I even had to buy wellies from someplace, which I kind of regret since they were a size too short and my feet were destroyed after all the walking around we did. But to sum up Venice as a whole, the view from the top of St Mark’s Campanile, it was unforgettable. I didn’t cry, not on the outside at least, but at that moment, I was just so happy, and the experience could never be taken away from me.

In fact, all of the Foundation Course, this past year, is an experience that can never truly be taken away from me. So if anyone out there, reading my somewhat depressing to enlightening tale is ever interested in getting into art or just wants an experience in their lives that they will never forget, take the Art & Design Foundation Course at Treforest. It may cost you more or less everything you have in your pockets and bank account (as it did to me this year sadly, Venice was the main cause I’ll admit), but when all is said and done, you’ll be glad you spent every single penny towards it all.

So what else is there to say? Maybe thanks? Well if so, I need to thank everyone at Aberystwyth first of all: lecturers, tutors, and all the people I ever got to hang out with, including the guy I had the falling out with. You all unintentionally helped me realise that if I continued with my ways in Aberystwyth, I would have truly been an unhappy and miserable human being, and we already have enough of them in the world. If any of you bump into me down my path in the future, maybe we can share a drink or just have a nice chat together? Reminisce over the good times and all that jazz. Maybe we can all be friends again someday, I truly miss not talking to you as much, even though I’m not good at talking in general, but you know that I’m sure.

And of course, every person I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing during the past year at my Foundation Course: tutors, students, everyone from the Animation group, every one of you pretty faces, you have truly made me into a better person, now more so than any other point in my twenty-one-year-old life. For those who aren’t going to the ATRiUM in September with me, I wish you nothing but the best of wishes and I hope we can catch up sometime in the summer or something, even though I wasn’t much of a talker during the past year. You were still nice to me regardless, letting me hang out with you in London and Venice when you didn’t have to let me join in at all (you know who you are, you crazies you). And to those of you in the same course, similar courses, or just overall in the ATRiUM in September, I can’t to see you all again. Assuming all goes well for me, and with all that’s happened so far, I’m sure it will go well, let’s make it three years that we will never forget!

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