Creative Arts Competition

Creative Arts

‘Creativity in Sustainability'

For those of you who are thinking of pursuing further education in any design-based discipline, at this stage of your creative development, understanding and learning to ‘trust in the design process’ is more important than what the final outcome actually looks like!

“When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go where we've already been. If process drives the outcome we may not know where we're going, but we will know we want to be there.” Bruce Mau

The design process should allow you room to experiment and follow up the unexpected and unplanned, as this is where your creativity can live and breathe. Employ lateral thinking rather than linear thinking, viewing a problem from multiple perspectives and in as random a way as possible, allowing yourself room for discovery and exploitation of spontaneous leads. (An example of this might be the ‘golden nugget’ you might find when you go down a rabbit hole on YouTube! You click on a subject and then keep clicking. The more times you click on subsequent related topics, the further away from the original subject you travel. However, there is still a tracible link back to your original subject. The important thing to grasp, is that you would not have ended up with your ‘golden nugget’ if you had tried to plan for it or applied logic to try to get to it.)

So it is with the creative process, try to allow your own intuition to take the lead of where you might explore next and keep going, rather than worrying up front about what the finished piece will look like! Try to put aside any Perfectionism tendencies you might have during this process or at least until you put the finishing touches to your final piece!



The aim is for you to build a creative response to this brief that you would not have delivered without following the 3x given exercises and see what you end up with. You will be assessed on your creative process and the clarity of the links from one step to the next.

Sustainability criteria

“The idea of new build is an obsolete 20th century idea that will soon be regulated out of existence. The only way forward for the future is for us to work with existing matter, existing buildings and anything that is already with us” Professor Graeme Brooker (2020)

‘Tabula Plena’ From the Latin, it means working with what’s there rather than wiping the slate clean and starting again (‘Tabula Rasa’)

This attitude comes out of an understanding in the creative industries of our moral duty, to be reducing our carbon footprint in every area where we carry influence, from how we develop our existing buildings (rather than knocking them down and starting again) to recycling materials or only using renewable materials in our furniture and fashion. Whatever the discipline, Architect, Interior designer, Set designer, Furniture designer, Product designer, Fashion designer, Textiles designer, Graphic designer etc. the sentiment in this idea embodies the sustainable movement that has taken hold, over the last few years.

There is another aspect of ‘Tabula Plena’ that is appealing to us as designers. By embracing what has gone before, we can access and understand the stories that already exist and might otherwise be lost if we started from scratch each time. From our research we are able to understand the heritage of what we have, which in turn helps inform the narrative of what is to come, giving roots and rationale to our ideas as they develop.

Task information

4x Image boards

Your first task is to research 4x different design discipline areas (given below) and identify 24x finished examples of work that adheres to the sustainable principle of ‘Tabula Plena’ - Working with what’s there.

You are required to create 4 No. image boards of 6 No. images on each board, covering the following 4x different design discipline areas:
A. Architecture / Interior design
B. Furniture / Product design
C. Fashion / Textile design
D. 3D signage / 2D Graphic communication

For each of the 4x areas you should aim to produce a page of 6 No. beautiful images that have grabbed your attention whilst illustrating clearly this sustainability principle of ‘Tabula Plena’. Where the original and new are visually readable in the image and work perfectly together either in harmony or in contrast.

Or the heritage stories represented by the images are compelling by way of a strong narrative that will help your next task. (you are advised to use architectural and design web sites like Dezeen and Pinterest or industry professionals and designers Instagram’s etc. NOT google images! We want inspirational ‘beautiful’ images not what is sold in Wicks builders’ merchants!)

On each page try to write a short description or keywords of any of the stories behind the images that you uncover in your research ie. What are the visible physical traces (and invisible stories of why they are as they are) of the former ‘form’ behind the re-used or altered, building, piece of furniture etc. that you have chosen.

Output Requirement – 1x A3 pages of a mix of 6no. beautiful images for each of the 4x different design discipline areas

Taking the lead from your ‘Tabula Plena’ research in Task 1, you are to choose one image from each of your 4x image boards that you think will work together or share a recognisable theme that you wish to develop your concept from. The task asks you to take inspiration from combining the imagery of the 4x chosen elements together to create a model of a 3D structure.

This exercise is an abstract task that requires you ‘trust the creative design process’ and to suspend the notion that your structure needs to be representative or needs to be a ‘thing’!

Your 3D model should be constructed from materials that are in line with the sustainability criteria:
Recycled, Renewable, Biodegradable, Certified, Compostable.

We will be favouring those that use real materials eg timber, metal etc or ridged materials rather than paper. This exercise is testing your ability to create a 3D object direct from inspiration images, However, feel free to sketch out your ideas first, before starting your construction if you find this easier.
It is important to the exercise that there are visible traces of the forms and shapes from the original chosen research images identified as part of your final model. Once you have finalised your model you are required to Photograph it properly.

Photograph it against a white background.
(Attach a large piece of card or white sheet to the wall and let it drape over a table to form a base to place your model. But ensue the backdrop material curves up to the wall to avoid a hard corner which will ensure no horizon line in your photos)

You should also light it with a friend’s phone torch to create strong shadows on the white background, which will make your photos more dramatic.
Or if you hold your model up to a clear blue sky you can get good images, with an uninterrupted background.

Please no shots with your lunch in shot or your cat! The cleaner and more dramatic your photos, the more effective the source material will be for your next task 3.

You should aim to create:
1x A3 board of 4x images showing the whole 3D structure
1x A3 board of 4x images showing interesting close up details from your 3D structure

Output Requirement – Minimum A3 sized model of a 3-D structure and any back up sketches to show your process.
1x A3 board of 4x images showing the whole 3D model structure from different angles and heights.
1x A3 board of 4x images showing details/close ups from your 3D model structure
1x A3 board of any backup sketches

Celebrating ‘Creativity in Sustainability’ through the theme of ‘Tabula Plena’

You are required to use the photographs of your 3D model structure and any imagery from your ‘Tabula Plena’ research as your visual and creative starting point, to tackle this final task 3. To design one of the following A3 statement pieces.

Choose to develop either a:
• Graphic poster
• Fabric banner
• Collage (Digital or handmade)
• 3D sculpture

Your chosen A3 format Poster or Banner or Collage or 3D sculpture should advocate the theme of ‘Tabula Plena’- Working with what’s there and with what you already have, rather than wiping the slate clean and always starting from scratch. You should message this sustainable way forward for the discipline that most interests you.

Building in Architecture or Interior design
Making in Furniture or product design
Manufacturing in Fashion or textile design
Printing and construction in 3D Wayfinding signage / 2D Graphic communication

Your design should incorporate a bold image/series of images of your model as your base, adding a slogan, keywords and any descriptions you might want to get your message across. You are celebrating the creativity in sustainability as a positive force for good not only in term of our planet and the important reduction of that industries carbon footprint, but also how the context, heritage and stories of what went before can be used to inform the new designm narrative of what is to come.

You should aim to use any of your outputs from the tasks 1&2 to help tell the next chapter of the sustainability story for that industry. It might help to look at how Brands get thier strong message across on a billboard or poster, using a strong slogan in an appropriate size and style of typeface (with minimum back-up copy) relying on the whole on the strength of the image or images to grab the attention of the viewer.

Output Requirement – A build-up of several drawings and overlays from a set of model photos and inspiration images to create the visual look for a poster, banner, collage or 3D sculpture, and your final piece that will advocate the theme of ‘Tabula Plena’ and its message for a sustainable way forward for the discipline that most interests you.


Each UCA competition has three prize winners.

1st prize - £100 Arts Voucher
2nd prize - £50 Arts Voucher
3rd prize - £25 Arts Voucher

*The prizes are as stated and no other alternatives will be offered. The prizes are not transferable. The prizes are awarded for each competition in each school.

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