City Lit Blog

Q&A with Stuart Norfolk - Foundation Art & Design diploma

Story added 3rd Apr 2019

Stuart Norfolk, Foundation Art & Design Diploma 2019


What inspired you to sign up to the City Lit Foundation art and design diploma?
I think it was a combination of things. On the suggestion of a good friend I’d attended a short course at City Lit (Contemporary Collage with Simon English) and with his encouragement I decided to apply. I had no previous arts education and plenty of doubts but felt it was the right time for me to try something new. 

What was your background prior to signing up to your course at City Lit?
I’ve had a wide range of jobs before I settled into a career with a large infrastructure company. For the last few years I’ve been working as freelance CSR auditor in the construction industry. 

Have you always had a passion for art and design, or is it something that has developed more recently?
I think my enthusiasm for the subject stems from the potential art provides for learning about the world, oneself and others. It’s only recently I’ve had the time to really think about it.  Making art work is not something I really ever thought of doing for myself until someone really encouraged me to try. I am very grateful to them for that. 

Can you tell us a little more about your final project and the influences behind it?
The final work consisted of a number of collage and mixed media pieces. The most direct influence came from the early ‘combine’ works of Franz West which I only encountered very recently. The content is centred on the subject of mythology in terms of both a ‘moral instruction’ and a ‘false belief’. Humanity has an innate desire to create stories.  This instinct informs our decisions and actions much more than we may always be aware. I think it’s a particularly important time to consider this and how our individual and collective stories might develop in the next few years.   


How was this final exhibition?
A very busy private view evening and a great opportunity to really see what others had been working on over the final term. Expertly curated. The work was really given a chance to be seen in its best light.  It puts a bit of extra psychological pressure on top of the final assessment process. It was rewarding and really good to spend time with others who had been through similar experiences.

How has the course transformed your approach to your work? Has it helped you with mapping out your future goals in any way?
The course has given me insights into creative and artistic processes in a way that had previously eluded me.  As far as the future goes I just want to keep practicing with ideas and developing my work in a range of areas. Anything after that is a bonus. My professional work is separate to my art practice although I think there is a beneficial relationship between the two areas of my life. 

What’s the dynamic like on the course?
I think the key thing to say about the group dynamic was that the students, tutors and staff were totally committed to doing the best they could possibly do. That is rare in my experience and a very motivating thing to be part of. 

What’s the best thing about studying at City Lit?
I think that dynamic I described extends to the whole place.

You recently designed the Centenary City Lit Tote bag - what inspired your design?
I noticed a little while ago that the City Lit catalogue pages, when viewed from a certain angle, formed a pattern that resembled a city skyline. I photographed this and put it in my sketchbook for further potential collage work. When the competition was mentioned by our tutor it occurred to me that the image I had in the sketchbook could be the basis of a design. I was encouraged to submit the idea and with a little development of the colours and skyline produced something that met the design brief.  

Finally, have you got any exciting plans going forward?
I’m quite excited by the idea of a break from formal study and then returning in the autumn for an advanced practice course. During the summer I’d like to experiment with other student artists on some short collaborative projects. I’d really like to test myself in that way.