Published on May 30, 2022

Over in North Hertfordshire College’s Creative and Performing Arts department, our students are always busy brushing up their skills and applying their creativity to exciting design challenges, like the Royal Opera House Design Challenge. We’re proud to share that two of our students, Charlie Jones and Sam Ashcroft, have received awards for the designs they submitted in the competition!

As part of the Design Challenge, students work on a live brief set by the prestigious theatre design professionals from the Royal Opera House. This year’s design brief focused on Peter Grimes, Benjamin Britten’s sombre opera about a fisherman ostracised by his community. The project aims to improve students’ skills in research and concept development, with the opportunity to take on a range of creative roles from set designer to costume designer. NHC’s students worked to interpret the story of the opera, exploring character roles and personalities before producing storyboards and designs to fit the brief.

Charlie Jones was announced as Winner of the Design Challenge (secondary category) for her costume designed for the titular Peter Grimes. Following her exploration of different materials and techniques, she was able to create a design that was both practical for a performer to wear as well as an interesting design for audiences to look at. Charlie said of the experience: “I am very pleased that I won this competition. The entire process has been filled with new learning experiences and has been very enjoyable.”

Check out Charlie’s design below:

Hot on Charlie’s heels was Sam Ashcroft, who was awarded Highly Commended for his set design for the opera. Sam’s design, drawing inspiration from a range of theatrical productions as well as photographers such as Martin Parr, was praised for having “both aesthetic beauty and considered practical solutions”.

Take a look at Sam’s design here:

Both Charlie and Sam’s work will be displayed in the Linbury Foyer at the Royal Opera House from 9th June to 22nd June 2022. They will also visit the Royal Opera House later this year to receive their awards, as well as take part in an opportunity to work alongside the existing creative team for an insight into the day-to-day working life at the Royal Opera House.

Amy McGann, Head of National Programmes at the Royal Opera House, commented on this year’s entrants to the Design Challenge, saying: “The level of creativity from the young people across the country in this year’s Design Challenge has been high. The judges – drawn from senior positions across our specialisms here at ROH – were impressed by the standards of the presentations on the design process and the professionalism of the final response. We were delighted to hear evidence of the impact of the journey from so many participants. Congratulations to all who took part, and I look forward to meeting the winners.”

Do you fancy putting your creativity to the test and trying your hand at a range of creative briefs? Check out North Hertfordshire College’s available Creative and Performing Arts courses and find who you want to be!