Bristol School of Art


Bristol School of Art (RWA Campus) is situated in the right hand wing of the Royal West of England Academy. The building, completed in 1858, offers an impressive façade to the Victoria Rooms in Queens Road, Clifton. A school of Art has existed continuously since this time, offering art education in a range of disciplines.

For many years I used to walk past it – dreaming of being able to study there! Well, my dreams did come true, and I enrolled on a course in enamelling with Matt Benton in September 2007. After dipping my toe in the creative waters, I made the crucial decision to give up my career and study for a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design (otherwise known as a foundation course in art) part-time. I completed the course in 2010.

After finishing the foundation course I did what many people have done over the years – I carried on taking courses at Bristol School of Art. I studied Art History with Jo Kear and also did a term’s screen printing. Then things got tricky – Filton College decided not to run many of the courses at Queen’s Road and many people were left without a place to go to learn and share their passion for art and design.

But things are looking up at Queen’s Road! Part-time courses are now being run in a number of areas, including: Life Drawing, Sculpture, Jewellery, Enamelling, Textlies: Cutting, Pattern Construction & Design, Introduction to Photoshop, Ceramics, Exploring 2D & 3D Processes, Screen Print, Art History, Drawing, Painting, General Printmaking, and Contemporary Drawing. The courses usually run for 10 weeks (3 hours per session) and fees are typically £195 for 10 weeks. See the images below for the Course Guide for Autumn 2013.



Queen’s Road still offers the foundation course, but now only full-time. It is a one year course designed to prepare students for Higher Education in Art, Design and Media. This is the primary route to Art and Design related subjects at degree level, and so to a career within the Arts. The Foundation course is diagnostic in nature: it enables each student to explore a wide range of media, processes and concepts.

Finding out about courses at Queen’s Road is not exactly easy, because Bristol School of Art is one of a large number of campuses of what is now known as South Gloucestershire and Stroud College (SGS). The website for SGS is and you can search for courses at Queen’s Road from here. You may also find it helpful to email the School of Art: or phone them on: 0117 973 6259.

3 thoughts on “Bristol School of Art

  1. Hi,

    I am on the very cusp of leaving my career in London and moving to Bristol to do this course (I’ve been accepted and I’m awaiting confirmation on a loan). How did you find the Foundation Diploma? Would you recommend it as a course and how did you find it as a (I assume) mature student? Can I also ask what you’re up-to now??

    Many thanks!

    • Hi Lucy

      How exciting to be coming to Bristol to do the Foundation Course at Queen’s Road. I studied a few years ago when you could do the course part-time over two years, so my experience will be different to that of someone doing the full-time course over one year. I loved the course and it changed my life.

      I didn’t go on to do a degree in art as I have already spent long enough in further education. I have been developing my work and trying to find learning experiences to serve the same sort of purpose of an art degree. In doing this I have made contact with a number of different places in Bristol where you can learn about new media and processes and share your creative experiences with others. This led to the launching of this website in January 2013. I suspect that I am not the only person who is not able to follow up a Foundation Course with an art degree, so I wanted to let people know where they could go to learn and seek out creative communities to support them through the development of their work.

      Reflecting on my experiences of the Foundation Course, I think that the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it (although this is not always easy if you have other commitments to deal with!). Develop a constructive dialogue with your tutors and listen to their critique of your work. You don’t always have to do what they say, but you do need to develop a good argument for what you do. Remember that it is designed to be a diagnostic course, where you and your tutors get a sense of what you are best suited to doing. Experiment, take risks, and try to live with the fact that there will be things that you don’t feel like you are any good at. For mature students who are used to being competent at what they do, it can be a bit of a threat to one’s sense of identity to feel that you are not very good at something (yet). But everything improves with practice!

      Most of all, enjoy it!

      This year’s Foundation Course students are exhibiting their work this weekend, so if you can make it to Bristol, come and have a look at what they have been up to. There’s more info at:

  2. Pingback: Creative goals for 2015 | Creative Bristol

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