Next-gen creativity: the National Art & Design Saturday Club expands horizons

Next-gen creativity: the National Art & Design Saturday Club expands horizons
An initiative to inspire the country's next creative generation, the National Art & Design Saturday Club hosts 14- to 16-year-old students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, who attend a weekly workshop at their local arts university, as well as a series of visits to galleries and museums. The efforts of their year-long workshop are displayed every June at Somerset house
(Image credit: press)

For the past six years, the National Art & Design Saturday Club (opens in new tab) has been connecting young students with the creative disciplines. 

An initiative to inspire the country's next creative generation, the Club hosts 14- to 16-year-old students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, who attend a weekly workshop at their local arts university, as well as a series of visits to galleries and museums. As part of the programme, the classes are invited to visit studios and practices for a masterclass which allows them to explore creative businesses as well as test their learnings in a new environment. Wallpaper* was witness to the incredible efforts that the Sorrell Foundation put into the Club last year, when the team hosted a masterclass (opens in new tab) in the magazine's London HQ.

Instigated by the Foundation (opens in new tab) as a vehicle for creativity, craft and design (and to encourage the kids’ confidence and self-esteem), the initiative has grown tenfold – from four to 40 clubs – since its inception, held every Saturday at universities across the country.

‘After running the National Art & Design Saturday Club for six years, it is clear that the model works for art and design, and could work for other subject areas too,’ says John Sorrell, whose foundation (that he runs with his wife Frances Sorrell) is behind the initiative. The past academic year, the network has expanded with the introduction of a National Science & Engineering Club, set up in partnership with Kingston University (already part of the network since 2013), with engineering firm Arup (opens in new tab) hosting the students for a masterclass. The inaugural edition took on 36 students, who explored the fields of aeronautical science and aerospace engineering (the university’s strengths). The Science & Engineering Club will be extended to eight locations in 2016, with the plan of branching further in years to come.

‘We believe that the Saturday Club model, with its year-long programme of activities and national events, as well as its impact on members' creative and life skills and their ambition and confidence, is a valuable enhancement to the school curriculum,’ explains Sorrell, noting that it’s not just the creative disciplines that need encouraging among younger students. ‘There is often a great emphasis on and support for science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, but these subjects still suffer from low take-up post-16, especially among girls,’ he continues. The new Club’s goal is to allow young people to explore and enjoy different subjects outside the pressures of school, Sorrell explains, while also showing them that these disciplines can be fun. 

The past academic year, the network has expanded with the introduction of a Science & Engineering Club, set up in partnership with Kingston University

The past academic year, the network has expanded with the introduction of a Science & Engineering Club, set up in partnership with Kingston University (part of the network since 2013)

(Image credit: press)

Engineering firm Arup hosted the students of the Science & Engineering Club for a day-long masterclass

Engineering firm Arup hosted the students of the Science & Engineering Club for a day-long masterclass

(Image credit: press)

‘We believe that the Saturday Club model, with its year-long programme of activities and national events

‘We believe that the Saturday Club model, with its year-long programme of activities and national events, as well as its impact on members' creative and life skills and their ambition and confidence, is a valuable enhancement to the school curriculum,’ explains John Sorrell, whose eponymous foundation is behind the initiative

(Image credit: press)

‘There is often a great emphasis on and support for science, technology, engineering and mathematics education

‘There is often a great emphasis on and support for science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, but these subjects still suffer from low take-up post-16,’ he continues

(Image credit: press)

students experiment during a masterclass with fashion group Pentland

As part of the programme, the classes are invited to visit studios and practices for a masterclass which allows them to explore creative businesses, as well as test their learnings in a new environment. Here, students experiment during a masterclass with fashion group Pentland

(Image credit: press)

Somerset College's students on a masterclass with architect Michaelis Boyd

The Clubs were set up as a vehicle for creativity, craft and design, and it has grown from four to 40 clubs since its inception. Pictured: Somerset College's students on a masterclass with architect Michaelis Boyd

(Image credit: Michaelis Boyd)

Hereford College of Art students working with architect Thomas Randall-Page on a large-scale installation

Hereford College of Art students working with architect Thomas Randall-Page on a large-scale installation

(Image credit: Thomas Randall-Page)

Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.