Published on May 21, 2021

On Friday 14 May it was announced that North Hertfordshire College (NHC) creative & performing arts students, Alice Simkins and Robyn Wisker-Stilling had a successful run in the Royal Opera House Design Challenge.

Alice Simkins, who is studying Level 3 Art & Design, was awarded winner of the Hair, Wigs & Make-up category. Robyn Wisker-Stilling also a Level 3 Art & Design student, was highly-commended in the Marketing category.

The Royal Opera House Design Challenge is a national student design competition, open to all UK FE Colleges and sixth form schools. Students entering had to choose to focus their design ideas on either; Costume Design, Hair wigs and Make-Up, Set Design and Marketing. With their portfolio work being centred on a Royal Opera House production, this year’s challenge focussed on Georges Bizet’s Carmen.

Alice's portfolio entry for the Royal Opera House Design Challenge

Of her win, Alice Simkins (whose portfolio is pictured above) said:

“I am overjoyed to have won the Hair, Wigs & Makeup category. Participating in the ROH challenge has been a fun and engaging experience for me. I have especially enjoyed researching the importance of theatrical makeup artists and what they have to consider every time they design a look for a character, e.g. effects of lighting, practicalities and durability.”

Robyn Wisker-Stilling (portfolio is pictured below) said: “I am so thrilled to be Highly Commended for the Marketing Strategy category! Taking part in The Royal Opera Design Challenge gave me a great insight into what it’s like working in the creative industry. My marketing strategy outcome is one of my favourite pieces of work I have ever made. It kept me busy during the lockdown! My plan after my current course ends is to study Animation at Middlesex University, and from there I hope to work in the industry as an Animator.”

The students will be invited to a winners’ event at the Royal Opera House in September. The event will launch the exhibition of their work at the Royal Opera House. They’ll attend a matinee performance of Carmen and will get to tour and experience the departments that they were awarded in. Home Education student, Andrew Blake, who won the Secondary Set Design category in 2020 will also be invited to the same event, due to last year’s event being postponed due to the pandemic.

Briony Marston, Curriculum Head of Creative & Performing said:

“The ROH Design Challenge is a wonderful opportunity for our students, across all levels, to work with a live brief. I am incredibly proud to see NHC students in the list of winners again, especially this year, as the students produced much of this work during lockdown. Their dedication and creativity shines through and I look forward to seeing what they go on to achieve in the future.”

Kirsty Kahl, Level 3 Art & Design Course Team Leader said:

“I am so proud of Alice and Robyn for their achievement in the Royal Opera House Design Challenge. Alice worked incredibly hard in this project, using her talents in make-up and mixed media to creatively explore ideas, paying great attention to detail. Robyn worked equally as hard, growing in independence, and creatively challenging herself through different mediums. Robyn’s submission is a striking lino print and mixed media animation. Well done to both!”

NHC is now currently taking applications for Creative & Performing arts courses starting in September. To find out more visit www.nhc.ac.uk/CreativeArtsCourses