Diplomas in stone carving from the City & Guilds of London Art School have been held in the highest regard by the stone industry since the 19th century. But outside of the industry they are not always recognised for the pinnacle of achievement they represent. In future they will be, because from October they become degrees – Batchelor of Arts (BA) and a Masters (MA).
This makes them part of the more widely recognised education system, with the BA at level six and the MA at level seven – the only carving courses available at this level in the UK.
The courses have been validated by Ravensbourne University London, which specialises in design and media postgraduate and undergraduate degrees and foundation courses.
The courses are now open for applications and if you want to talk to City & Guilds of London Art School staff about them you can do so at the Natural Stone Show (stand B18) in London at ExCeL from 30 April-2 May.
The new BA (Hons) and PGDip/MA degrees in Historic Carving will be a route to Blue and Gold CSCS cards, which the Diplomas were not. Being degree courses also means students will be eligible for student loans, which, again, the Diplomas were not.
The courses themselves remain exactly the same, which confirms the high level they have always conformed to.
They are practical courses with 85% of the marks coming from the work produced. There is a written element to show an understanding of historical architectural styles but it is not required to be produced in an exam environment.
Unusually these days, the students have access to tutors all the time they are at the School and have their own work spaces in the well equipped workshops.
And you will not have to have an academic background to be accepted on to the degree course. An alternative route is to have what is called APEL (accreditation of prior experiential learning). That means an existing mason who does not have ‘A’ levels can be accepted – and most of the students at the City & Guilds of London Art School are not school leavers but want to learn about carving having already started working in a trade such as stonemasonry.
The degree courses are led by Master Carver and Head of Historic Carving Tim Crawley,who studied at the City & Guilds of London Art School himself before going on to work on some of the country’s most important restoration projects and carve some of the highest profile sculptures, including leading the project to carve the Modern Martyrs above the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey.
The courses benefit from the experience and expertise of a team of established and practising professionals, renowned in the heritage sector.
Training at the City & Guilds of London Art School has always been a foundation on whih so many sculptors’ careers have been built. From the time it opened in 1864 the School has played a leading role in the development of stone carvers – its first students were masons training with Farmer & Brindley, George Gilbert Scott’s preferred carvers.
Tim Crawley says of the change of status of the courses at the City & Guilds of London Art School: “The achievement of both BA (Hons) and MA status is important in that it recognises the quality of our long-established programmes and sets them within an international framework of academic achievement, opening up a new world of opportunities for graduates.
“The Diploma and PGDip programmes that these new courses replace developed and evolved over many years and have proved very effective in preparing students for professional practice as freelance specialist carvers and for work in the heritage and art sectors. We are delighted that the quality of our teaching and the standard of our students’ work has been recognised in this way.
“The course content, with its emphasis very much on making and the acquisition and refinement of carving and related sculptural skills, remains unchanged for both courses, although we have further enhanced some elements with even more opportunities for live projects and professional experience now embedded in the curricula.”
As well as the new carving courses, the Art School is also offering newly validated MA Art & Material Histories, which takes a distinctive view of art history through the lens of materials and offers students the opportunity for hands-on material enquiry.
The new Historic Carving and Art Histories courses are also now open for application, with open days available for interested students to explore the Art School, meet the tutors and students and get a feel for studying there.
The addition of these Historic Carving and Art Histories degrees, means that the Art School now offers BA (Hons) courses in Fine Art, Conservation and Historic Carving and MA courses in Fine Art, Conservation, Carving and Art & Material Histories.