keeks05
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Hi guys,

In September I'm going to be starting AS Art and our summer homework was to pick a theme for our personal investigation and begin to make a mind map and some preliminary sketches. I've had a couple of ideas for what I could do based on my strengths and areas I'd like to improve, but I'm not sure which would give me the best scope for development/chance of getting high marks?

My first idea was Operatic and Balletic Performance, as I enjoy watching and listening to them and I love the artistic aesthetics shown onstage. I imagine this theme would involve a lot of figure drawing and portraiture, which I don't mind but I'm not sure I'd want to be limited to. Obviously if this theme was more likely to give me higher marks it's a sacrifice I'd be willing to make!

My other idea was Mediterranean Art and Architecture. I've always been fascinated by the beauty of this theme and I also have a personal connection as half of my family come from the Mediterranean. This would also allow me to produce more architectural drawings and sculptures as well as portraiture, which is where I think my strongest skills are. My only issue with this is that I worry the examiner may think it is too broad and that I will struggle to show any development in my work.

Has anyone done themes similar to these in the past or have any insight into which would be a better choice? Sorry for the long post and thanks for taking the time to read!
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SebastianMesser
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(Original post by keeks05)
Hi guys,

In September I'm going to be starting AS Art and our summer homework was to pick a theme for our personal investigation… but I'm not sure which would give me the best scope for development/chance of getting high marks?
I know it is easier to say than to do, but if you concentrate on things you are passionate about and enjoy doing, then the results will follow… trying to double-guess what someone else likes will be neither satisfying nor likely to end up with the best results. Play to your strengths…

I note you said this is AS level, so I presume you are taking subjects other than Art for A levels? So this might not be a relevant consideration, but where do you want this to lead? Are you building a portfolio to apply for an arts subject post A’level or is this more of a hobby subject for you? If it is the latter, that could help you decide, e.g. if you wanted to go on to a degree in history then you might chose the Mediterranean (but, yes, that is much too broad - can you narrow it down by date, or country/ region? I always say to my students that the more specific you can be, the better the project is likely to be).

If you were thinking to study an arts subject post A’level, then I would recommend your first choice. I particularly look for life drawing in applicant’s portfolios as, I would argue, this is the best demonstration of observational and drawing skills. If you are interested in architecture too, you could look at set design and scenography, as well as performance (although the sets can also ‘perform’ and interact with the performers - I don’t know anything about opera, but from a pop music perspective, look at Stufish and ES Devlin, or a bit more arty/architecty, Diller Scofidio and Renfrew’s early work). Alternatively, if you are interested in fashion, then you could look at costume and/or the performance of materials, e.g. https://www.wallpaper.com/fashion/fu...-wells-theatre

Personally I hate mind maps, but it sounds like it could benefit you to start with one of all of your interests and where you see you strengths and the things you want to develop, and then look for where these converge, overlap or are most dense: and that is the obvious place to then chose for your subject and to develop as the mind map for your summer homework. Good luck, let us know what you decide.
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keeks05
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Thank you so much for your advice! I'm actually taking AS art because I want to study Architecture at university, so I wanted to make sure I could include some aspect of architectural drawing in my work. I just tried your mindmap idea and I've decided to adapt my Mediterranean idea into a time period of Baroque and Neoclassical, as these movements had a lot of Italian influence as they spread throughout Europe. Also, I can photograph some architecture in cities near me and I'm more likely to find art in UK galleries without travelling abroad. As you said, I will also try to include some figure drawing in my work rather than solely architecture, and hopefully I will be able to make some conceptual sculptures as well, especially as some universities say they want a range of subject matters in the portfolio. I feel more confident going forward with this theme, so thank you for helping me come to it!
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SebastianMesser
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(Original post by keeks05)
Thank you so much for your advice! I'm actually taking AS art because I want to study Architecture at university, so I wanted to make sure I could include some aspect of architectural drawing in my work. I just tried your mindmap idea and I've decided to adapt my Mediterranean idea into a time period of Baroque and Neoclassical, as these movements had a lot of Italian influence as they spread throughout Europe. Also, I can photograph some architecture in cities near me and I'm more likely to find art in UK galleries without travelling abroad. As you said, I will also try to include some figure drawing in my work rather than solely architecture, and hopefully I will be able to make some conceptual sculptures as well, especially as some universities say they want a range of subject matters in the portfolio. I feel more confident going forward with this theme, so thank you for helping me come to it!
Glad that helped. If you don’t mind some more unsolicited advice… architecture (in the UK at least) at undergraduate level is an excellent general arts degree, although the myth that you need maths and physics somehow still persists.

It’s also competitive and over-subscribed, so pick the A’levels which you will enjoy and do best in (you will need the predicted grades/ UCAS points to get through the admissions team to be seen and considered by the architecture department) and then it will be down to your portfolio and your enthusiasm for the subject.

*Don’t* ‘design’ a building! You are going to university to learn to do this, so demonstrate your interest in learning about architecture, not what you don’t know!

Having picked the Baroque, I would suggest you might narrow this down further, for instance, you could look at space and light in Caravaggio’s use of chiaroscuro. You might then relate this to Tanizaki’s In Praise of Shadows, and then to contemporary architecture like Peter Salter’s ‘gloomy’ Walmer Yard and David Adjaye’s early series of houses for artists (who were his contemporaries at the RCA) which used a lot of the colour black and blank facades.

If you wanted to keep the theatrical link, you could look at the English Baroque. Sir John Vanburgh was a playwright, theatre-owner, and architect (he was aided by Nicholas Hawksmoor who had apprenticed to Sir Christopher Wren). Although completed after both Vanburgh and his client died, Seaton Delaval Hall (now owned by the National Trust) was inextricably linked to theatre by “the Gay Delavals”, who were like the Internet Influencers of their day! - there is some information and interesting interpretations on the NT website in the ‘Rising Stars’ projects which might inspire you? Good luck.
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