Daniel Quirke

The Foundation Year 2013-14
BA Animation, Middlesex University

I applied to The Foundation Year because it was completely unique compared to the other foundation courses I had come across. Nowhere else that I had looked at or heard about had as much contact time with tutors or as small a group of people studying on the course, which really appealed to me. On the open day I really enjoyed visiting the studios in Trinity Buoy Wharf and the feeling of being part of the artistic community there. I was also attracted by the fact that the course placed such a high regard on drawing and working from observation, which I have since learned is essential in my work and something I love to do. 

What I really liked about the the course was that in terms of the weekly schedule I had to be in the studios just as much as I was at school – there was a big emphasis on being punctual and having good attendance. I think I'm someone who can be lazy if not strongly encouraged, so I liked the discipline which ensured that I made the most of the course. In comparison to the art lessons I had at school, the course helped me to develop more in a year than I had ever done before. My drawing skills improved especially dramatically as I had hardly ever worked from observation at school (working mostly from photographs instead) but The Foundation Year introduced me to the practice of life drawing which I had never done before. I now feel much more confident in my own drawing ability. I remember doing life drawing one Monday when it suddenly struck me how confident I felt when drawing from the model, and after comparing my drawings from that day to the drawings from right at the beginning of the course, I saw how much my drawing and feel for line and form had improved. 

Aside from drawing, the course introduced me to many other new methods and ways of learning. Before the course I had only done monoprinting and lino-cut before, but on The Foundation Year I was introduced to new printmaking techniques, sculpting techniques like wax modelling and breeze block carving, animation and most importantly working from observation. I also found that keeping a learning journal, though challenging, was very important and helps a lot. Another really memorable part of the course was the end of year trip to Dumfries House. It's something I'll never forget.

There are lots of different tutors on The Foundation Year and each one will see your work slightly differently and have something different to add. This helped keep the advice and suggestions fresh, as you were always hearing something new and getting new ideas. It was really useful to have tutors in specialist practices like animation as I was able to get a lot of help from them when working on my own animations. 

It was during my final major project that I felt I developed as an artist more than I had ever done before. It wasn't an easy project, as there were times where I just couldn't see where my work was going, but with the support of the tutors I worked through those periods and suddenly began to see what I did and didn't like visually. That was something which I had never had the confidence to do before, as I usually went by what other people liked, thinking their opinion was the right one.

Animation was something that had been at the back of my mind for a while but I had never had any experience of it. By the time I started The Foundation Year I had forgotten that it was an option and arrived on the first day of the course thinking that I would go on to do either a Fine Art or Painting degree. But I soon realised that animation was something I really enjoyed when I was introduced to it on some of the day projects, and I'm now studying at Middlesex University on the BA Animation course.