Plymouth College of Art awards Honorary Fellowships to Sir Nicholas Serota and Richard Deacon CBE

Date: 
1 Dec 2017
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In a ceremony held at Theatre Royal Plymouth, 300 students graduated from Plymouth College of Art, with a range of creative degrees at BA (Hons), Foundation and Masters levels, including Animation, Photography, Graphic Design, Fashion Media & Marketing, and Ceramics.

At the graduation ceremony the college also awarded Honorary Fellowships to Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair of Arts Council England, and to Richard Deacon CBE, the leading British sculptor and Turner Prize winner. Every year Plymouth College of Art awards Honorary Fellowships to recognise exceptional achievement in the creative arts, as well as recognising individuals that have achieved significant social change through the arts and culture.

Sir Nicholas Serota

During his acceptance speech, Sir Nicholas Serota said: “In times of change we need skills that build on creativity, adaptability and that promote an appetite for thinking imaginatively rather than following the paths of the past. And so today, as we face the greatest challenge to our economic and social order since the Second World War, we need to invest in creativity as a means of ensuring that we are solving problems and growing new areas of expertise and industry. Between 2013 and 2015, the arts and culture sector grew by 10%, five times faster than the economy as a whole. Together the creative industries contribute more to the economy than the combined output of the automotive, life sciences, oil and gas and aerospace industries. Across the world British achievement in the arts, culture, film, architecture, fashion, design and now games is recognised to an astonishing degree.

“We need to continue to nurture and grow those skills. Plymouth College of Art is unusual in its belief that it should give students the opportunity to learn many of the traditional craft skills that we used to find in art colleges across the country. It is also unusual in its commitment to a broad Foundation course that gives students the chance to experience a range of media and disciplines and to discover where their own talent will flourish. But it is also developing courses in new areas like games and animation.

“But Plymouth College of Art is also playing a pioneering role in the community in Plymouth. Two years ago I was present at the formal opening of Plymouth School of Creative Arts in The Red House, named for its dominant colour but also in emulation of the famous Red House of William Morris, that pioneer of socially responsible artistic practice and manufacture. No other art college in the country has had the vision and the courage to open a school like Plymouth School of Creative Arts, that places a special emphasis on the visual and on creativity in the curriculum. I want to congratulate Andrew Brewerton, Dave Strudwick and the governors for breaking new ground when so many others are abandoning Foundation courses and broad educational principles in the face of financial pressures.

“This year, in Hull as UK City of Culture, we have seen how the arts can build the confidence, well-being and economic prospects of a community. Here in Plymouth the City Council is seeking to draw people and energy back into the city centre and to provide opportunity in more isolated and disadvantaged areas. The arts and culture are playing a part in both initiatives and projects of national significance, like The Box, are coming to fruition. I know that under the leadership of Andrew and his team the college will make its own contribution as a catalyst for change, alongside business, the University and other cultural and educational institutions. I wish all of you as graduates and the college every possible success in your future ventures.”

Sir Nicholas Serota is Chair of Arts Council England and a member of the Board of the BBC.  He was knighted in the 1999 New Year Honours and appointed Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH) in the 2013 Birthday Honours for services to art. Sir Nicholas was Director of Tate from 1988 to 2017. During this period Tate opened Tate St Ives (1993) and Tate Modern (2000 and extension 2016), redefining the Millbank building as Tate Britain (2000). Tate also broadened its field of interest to include twentieth-century photography, film, performance and occasionally architecture, as well as collecting from Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

The national role of the Tate developed with the creation of the Plus Tate network of 35 institutions across the UK and Northern Ireland. In recent years, Sir Nicholas has curated or co-curated exhibitions of Donald Judd (2004), Howard Hodgkin (2006), Cy Twombly (2008), Gerhard Richter (2011) and Matisse: The Cut-Outs (2014).

Sir Nicholas was awarded an Honorary Fellowship from Plymouth College of Art in recognition of his outstanding achievement in cultural leadership and his transformation of public understanding of contemporary art.

Richard Deacon CBE

In his acceptance speech, Richard Deacon CBE talked about spending most of the first 18 years of his life growing up in and around Plymouth, from a rented house in Cattewater and time in Plymstock and Hooe County Primary School to his life as a boarding school pupil at Plymouth College.

Speaking of the formative effect of his life in Plymouth, Richard said: “It may seem arbitrary for me to be receiving this honorary fellowship, but actually I owe Plymouth and the surrounding area a great deal – really it should be the other way around, I should be honouring the city and the county.” His large steel sculpture ‘Moor’ (1990) can be seen from the Plymouth to Cornwall railway line, sitting on top of three brick viaduct columns.

Richard Deacon CBE is a leading British sculptor and Turner Prize winner, best known for his large, lyrical open forms. He has completed commissioned works in Canada, New Zealand, Germany, France, Austria, United Kingdom, Spain, Holland, China, Singapore, the USA, Norway, Switzerland and Japan.


He has been awarded the Robert Jacobsen Preize, the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, and was elected as a Royal Academician. He holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Leicester, was elected a member of the Akademie der Kunst in Berlin, and was awarded the Ernst Franz Vogelmann prize for sculpture.

Plymouth College of Art awarded an Honorary Fellowship to Richard Deacon in recognition of his outstanding achievement as one of the foremost British sculptors of his generation.

Honorary Fellows at Plymouth College of Art

Every year Plymouth College of Art awards Honorary Fellowships to recognise exceptional achievement in the creative arts, as well as recognising individuals that have achieved significant social change through the arts and culture.

Past recipients of Honorary Fellowships from the college include: Sir John Sorrell CBE and Lady Frances Sorrell OBE; Creative Director of Pentland Brands, Katie Greenyer; independent cultural broker, Peter Jenkinson OBE; children’s artist David McKee; painter Albert Irvin; Joanne Anning, CEO of Jeremiah’s Journey; Louise Tilbury, Plymouth School of Creative Arts Project Manager; Tobie Gorniack, Founder of Street Factory; and French glass artist Antoine Leperlier.

The new Honorary Fellowships were presented by Professor Andrew Brewerton, Principal of Plymouth College of Art, at the college’s 2017 Graduation Ceremony.

2017 graduating students

Since finishing his degree, BA (Hons) Illustration graduate Jake Williams was awarded the coveted New Designer’s ‘Designer of the Year’ award, named by Creative Bloq as one of the best creative graduates outside of London and he also secured a three-book publishing deal with London-based publisher Pavilion Books.

BA (Hons) Costume Production & Associated Crafts graduate Sara Whetherly flew to New Zealand after her work was selected for the finals of the international World of WearableArt competition.

BA (Hons) Film graduate Luke Sims has joined top digital learning provider Sponge UK as their first in-house videographer.

BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing & Printmaking graduates and joint winners of the college’s Principal’s Award this for Enterprise and Innovation, Amelia Webster and Marie Taylor have access to an incubator space and business mentoring for their start-up business Inside Edge, which supports emerging artists as they leave education. During their studies they collaborated with arts education organisation Q-Art, leading tours at the Tate Modern and establishing a student-led Crit Club launched by Q-Art Director Sarah Rowles.

At Graduate Fashion Week, BA (Hons) Fashion graduate Franziska Wagner (Carter) met Professor Elena Fajt, a Slovenian professor at the university in Ljubljana and the founder of the award-winning project called 'shirting'. The professor enlisted Carter to design a piece for her new ‘shirting’ collection, highlighting themes of overproduction and overconsumption, and tackling unethical and non-ecological fashion industry practice by redefining the idea of garment ownership.

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