A level Art, Craft and Design

Students in Ashbourne’s Art Faculty get the fantastic opportunity to experience a wide range of art and design activities before going on to specialise in their chosen A level subject.

During the first term students explore drawing, life drawing, printmaking, sculpture, digital art, photography, fabrics and textiles on a rotation basis. They will develop and broaden their technical skills and visual understanding throughout their first year enabling them to build up an impressive portfolio.

Art, Craft and Design A level students will continue to create a visual and contextual body of work that cohesively combines the skills and processes they have learned from the wide range of art and design disciplines offered across the Faculty. It is ideal for students wishing to work in more than one specialised area.

The European Art Trip is a real highlight for art and design students who get the chance to visit cultural hotspots like Paris, Barcelona and Vienna on a specially structured and expertly led tour over the Autumn half term. Students also visit a variety of galleries and museums in London and the UK throughout the course.

The Art Faculty creates excellent opportunities for students to show off their work throughout the course and to prepare for a career in the art world.

Why study Art, Craft and Design?

Studying Art, Craft and Design will help you build a varied range of skills and techniques. To survive and thrive in such a competitive industry artists need to be versatile, multi-skilled and able to promote their ideas and work – something greatly encouraged at Ashbourne from the very outset.

Studying art, craft and design not only involves technical skill but requires understanding of how to carry out research, explore and develop ideas, evaluate your work and take projects further. Observing and analysing the world around you is also critical and the response you make through your art can communicate ideas and change beliefs.

Which syllabus do we follow?

Ashbourne follows the AQA specification for A level Art, Craft and Design.

What is the course about?

As a part of Ashbourne’s mini-foundation programme students join the Art and Design carousel during their first term to experience a variety of art activities in rotation: Drawing, Life Drawing, Printmaking, Sculpture, Digital Art, Photography, Fabrics and Textiles. They begin to build up a dynamic portfolio, which constitutes 60% of the overall result. At the end of the first year students will complete an internal assessment and exam to ensure they attain a suitable standard to progress to A level for the second year.

Art, Craft and Design students continue with their exploration of two- and/or three-dimensional media, processes and techniques. Students examine images, artefacts and resources relating to a range of art, craft and design, from the past and from recent times, including European and non-European examples. Their responses are shown through practical and critical activities which demonstrate their understanding of different styles, genres and traditions.

Students can choose at least two areas of art, craft and design which they can combine or overlap. These include: Fine Art, Graphic Communication (including film and video), Textile Design, Three-Dimensional Design, Photography: lens-based and light-based media and Skills and Techniques

Who teaches this course?

This is a cross-faculty course led by Jak Kirby.

Jak Kirby

BA in Applied Arts (Photography) (Silapakorn University, Thailand)
Before coming to Ashbourne Jak worked in the advertising industry and as a television director in Thailand. Jak began teaching photography but has established a flourishing Graphics department within the Art Faculty over the many years she has been at the college. She has a particular interest in film production.

Lawrence Quigley

Head of Art Faculty
MA Fine Art (Royal Academy of Art); BA Fine Art (Loughborough University); PGCE (Leeds Metropolitan University)
Lawrence has been head of the Art Faculty since joining in 2011. He is a Fine Artist specialising in painting and has exhibited at leading contemporary galleries in London and beyond. His work is also held in many public and private collections. Lawrence has extensive teaching experience from GCSE to degree level.

Caterina Lewis

MA and BA Fine Art (Central St. Martins); PGCE Art and Design (Institute of Education, University of London)
Caterina is a practising fine artist who has plenty of experience curating exhibitions and working with galleries. She has been teaching art and design for many years to a wide range of age groups including at GCSE and A level and joined Ashbourne’s Art Faculty in 2016.

Nick Cheeseman

MA Fine Art (Chelsea College of Arts, UAL); BA Hons Fine Art (Staffordshire University); PGCE Art and Design (Bath Spa University)
Nick brings a wealth of experience and passion for teaching art to Ashbourne. He is a practising artist who has exhibited his work across the UK and has been teaching for more than seven years. He has also been an Edexcel exam moderator for GCSE and A level. Nick joined the college in 2016.

Arianwen Shoring

MA Graphic Design, Fashion and Branding (Nottingham Trent Universtiy); BA Hons Fashion (University of Wales); PGCE Art and textiles (University of Worcester)
Arianwen has been teaching in fashion, design and branding for many years and has plenty of experience preparing students for university and entering the art world.

Beyond A level Art, Craft and Design

Many of our students preparing for a career in the art world go on to prestigious colleges including St. Martins, Chelsea and Camberwell, Slade (UCL), London College of Communication, Ravensbourne, Westminster, Kingston and Brunel.

As well as university applications, students are also encouraged to apply for the Foundation Course in Art and Design as a full-time preliminary year prior to degree study. Ashbourne’s Art Faculty has good links with some of the strongest Foundation course colleges such as the City and Guilds of London Art School.

Art and design courses can offer a gateway into a structured commercial career in a wide range of fields including interior design, product design, fashion design, public art, jewellery making, ceramics, graphic design, textile design, surface design, architecture, photography, advertising and animation, as well as digital media.

Suggested reading and resources

BooksOnlineExhibitions and events
What Are You Looking At? 150 Years of Modern Art in the Blink of an Eye, Will Gompertz
What’s the point of modern art? BBC Arts Editor and former director at Tate Modern Will Gompertz takes you on a whirlwind tour to hear the stories behind the masterpieces, meet the artists and help you understand what you’re looking at.

The Story of Art, E.H. Gombrich
Classic for all art lovers exploring selected art history from the perspective of the artists.

Treasure trove of every book imaginable on graphics, design, illustration, fashion, advertising and architecture. Branches in Covent Garden and Clerkenwell.

The Complete History of Costume and Fashion, Bronwyn Cosgrave
Illustrated guide to the history of clothing and fashion from Ancient Egypt to the present day.

On Photography
Susan Sontag takes a philosophical look at how photography has altered our world and affected the way we learn.

Self Publish, Be Happy: A DIY Photobook Manual and Manifesto
How can photography redefine itself in the age of Instagram overload? This is a do-it-yourself manual for self-publishing success produced by Bruno Ceschel, associate lecturer at University of the Arts, London.


Publishes books on art, photography, design and contemporary culture.

Koenig Books
Independent bookshop specialising in art, architecture and photography with branches at the Serpentine Gallery and Whitechapel Gallery.

Gallery bookshops
You will find a wide range of art books at all the major galleries including The National, The Portrait, Tate Britain and Modern and the Royal Academy.

Art news, reviews, views, events and comment from The Guardian and The Telegraph.

What’s on and where
TimeOut’s guide to the arts in London keeps you up to date with current and upcoming exhibitions and events across the city.

Design Museum
The Design Museum in Kensington is a trailblazer in contemporary design and architecture showcasing the work of innovative designers from Britain and the world.

The V&A
Holds one of the world’s largest collections of textiles and fashions spanning more than 5000 years and covering Europe, South, South East, East and Central Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas. It also runs talks, workshops and events. Located not far from the college in South Kensington.