Student Stories: Isabeau Gervais, New Fine Art Foundation Course

In the run up to this year’s application deadline for our New Fine Art Foundation Course on 14th February, we asked Isabeau, one of our current cohort, to tell us about her experience of studying on the course, and share some of the work she’s made this year…

Before enrolling on the New Fine Art Foundation Course, I was a student on The Prince’s Drawing Clubs free weekly after-school programme. The first Drawing Club I went to was based in the Natural History Museum, and once I turned 15 I moved to the 15+ club on Saturdays in The Prince’s Drawing School’s Shoreditch studio, which was really influential on my skills and techniques as a developing young artist. I had never experienced life drawing before this. It had a real impact on the way I worked and changed the way I saw the human figure. Going every Saturday allowed me to meet some really nice like-minded people my own age, as well as being able to work with tutors who were practicing artists themselves. They really encouraged me to continue my studies at The Prince’s Drawing School’s New Fine Art Foundation Course and were hugely supportive of my application.

12100710094_61d4074c74_bObservational Tonal Collage by Isabeau Gervais

The course is really like no other Foundation offered, and I am so glad that I decided to apply and come here. Being only one in 28 students compared to one in 100 or even one in 700 is such a luxury. We get such great guidance and attention, and you do become really close to everyone on the course, which creates a niche little community. The tutors really care about helping and teaching you – you’re a person with a personality, not just a number.

Excerpt, A4 sketchbook from a trip to London Zoo by Isabeau Gervais

The course is full time so it feels more like school than Uni, but the teaching style is really different. Unlike school where your art teacher not only teaches you but hundreds of other pupils of various ages, the tutors here are just focused on you. Having subject-specialist tutors in sculpture, printing, and painting provides the best insight into new ways of working. Before this course I had never worked with sculpture and had very little experience with printing and etching techniques.

12100328585_beb3c6a49f_bA joiner collage made up of a series of monoprints from a life model, using oil paint as the medium, by Isabeau Gervais

The variety of tutors is great, but having two main programme leaders (Sharon Beavan and Gethin Evans) allows for consistency and contact on a personal level, while all the other tutors provide fresh eyes for a tired personal project or help in their specific area of expertise.

12100991166_1066dfbb4a_bObservational pen drawing from Liverpool Street Station, by Isabeau Gervais

Of everything we do on the course, I really enjoy the access to the printing area and the Friday visits to galleries the most. Weekly we go as a class with the art history tutor Antje Southern to both contemporary and traditional galleries. She guides us through the works and exhibitions and provides lots of insight and knowledge. Taking History of Art for A-level was a great companion for my Fine Art studies, and I’m so glad that could continue at Foundation level.

Pages from Isabeau’s Dreams and Illustration research file, showing artist influences on the project

I think the most challenging part of the course so far has been the demanding schedule, as like most people on the course I live quite a trek away from Trinity Buoy Wharf. The days are quite long and intense but really stimulating, so totally worth it. I have a job that I work at on Saturdays so juggling that and school work is a balancing act, but I guess that’s just a ‘welcome to the adult world’ sort of situation.

12100326935_81bfa3ee44_b‘Bob Dylan with Sandwich’ Dream Illustration by Isabeau Gervais

I had a real breakthrough this year when I was working on my first personal project, based on creating illustrations from other people’s dreams. This was the most exciting and most personal project I had done to date, and made me realise that I love work that involves community interaction and working to a brief. I saw that my love of illustration and working to a brief with a community went hand in hand. From that project my joy in illustration, which had purely been an obsessive hobby, transformed into a career path. I’m hoping to go on from the New Fine Art Foundation Course to do a BA in Illustration at Brighton, Camberwell or Kingston. I’m currently in the midst of putting together portfolios for interviews so it’s all a little up in the air, but I’m really hopeful and I know that this course has prepared me with a wealth of work as well as skills and techniques that will help me take the next step wherever I end up.

The application deadline for entry in September 2014 is Friday 14th February 2014.
To find out more about the New Fine Art Foundation Course, or apply, visit


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