NWRC Art student praised by Royal Opera House judges

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A North West Regional College Art & Design student is to have his work displayed in London after receiving a special commendation in the Royal Opera House 2024 Design Challenge.

John Keys, from Londonderry, who studies the Level 3 Extended Diploma in Art & Design at Limavady campus, was singled out for a costume he made for the challenge, a huge achievement considering he’d never even used a sewing machine before!

The 17 year-old enlisted the help of mum Elaine and textile tutor at NWRC to develop his sewing skills and judges like the costume he made so much, it’s being put on public display in the Linbury Foyer at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden alongside the winners, the highly commended and commended.

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Judges singled out John’s creative and thoughtful approaches to director's Thomas Guthrie vision for the opera The Barber of Seville, and he’s been invited to the Royal Opera House to receive his award and spend some time with professionals to get a real insight into the day-to-day working life of theatre craft designers and makers.

John Keys is pictured with his commended costume.John Keys is pictured with his commended costume.
John Keys is pictured with his commended costume.

John said he was shocked to hear he’d been commended, adding: “Making the costume was a completely new project for me. I mainly focus on printing and painting, so this really pushed me out of my comfort zone, which is a great thing. I also love history, so I was able to combine my interest in history with art.

“I’d never done a project like this before and whilst it was stressful, the experience that I gained has given me a great insight into working to a client brief and the skills needed for fashion and textiles. I am really thankful to all my tutors for their support in this project."

The former Lisneal College student plans to stay at NWRC Limavady in September 2024 where he hopes to complete a UAL L3 Foundation diploma in Art and Design

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Emma Dickson – Art & Design lecturer at NWRC Limavady said: “We are delighted to see John’s work recognised by industry professionals at the Royal Opera House. John is a hugely talented student with so much potential, we are absolutely delighted for him and look forward to continuing to supporting him on this journey.”

The Royal Opera House's national Design Challenge is a hands-on design skills programme, to drive skills development and progression. The challenge is designed to improve students’ creative problem-solving, build understanding of career pathways, explore the connections between STEM and the arts, and develop students’ empathy skills needed to design for an audience and other user groups.

NWRC offers courses in Art & Design in its campuses at Strand Road at Limavady.

Applications are open for full time courses beginning in September 2024 – apply at www.nwrc.ac.uk/apply

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