Croydon School of Arts Re-launch

Posted by on Oct 19, 2013 in Global View | No Comments

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John Rocha is guest of honour at Croydon School of Art re-launch


Last Friday, 11th October 2013 saw Modeconnect excited to attend the re-launch of the iconic Croydon School of Art. Over 150 people gathered in the school refurbished building alongside a panel of famous fashion insiders which included internationally renowned designer and Croydon alumni John Rocha. Croydon School of Art will now be an independent structure within University Centre Croydon; itself one of the largest providers of higher education between London and Brighton; it is in a partnership with the University of Sussex.

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John Rocha, CBE, Guest of Honour

Rocha was invited to launch the new facilities and at the official ceremony he spoke of the influence the college had on his career.

I started in Croydon College all those years ago with a dream. Dreams are very important. You see without dreams we wouldn’t have Nelson Mandela, we wouldn’t have Kate Moss or Sean Skelly or Alexander McQueen. So, for me this occasion to open the new facility where people will learn and enjoy is a great thing. I hope that it will be used as a place where they make their dreams come true, like me.

Rocha had attended the college 30 years ago after a career in psychiatric nursing brought him from China to the UK. He is one of many icons to have formerly walked through the doors of the school. It has produced a wide range of ground breaking artists such as David Bowie, Malcolm McLaren, Jamie Reid and Turner Prize nominees, Sean Skelly and Helen Chadwick.


Prospective art students need to consider the potential that lies in this vibrant, creative and well connected hub. As the years have gone by we seem to have lost sight of the vital role this borough has had in reshaping modern culture. From the British punk movement of the 70’s through to the birth of dubstep, Croydon has been at the forefront, unveiling modern movements. Always at the centre of these movements, mothering its boundary-breaking minds was Croydon School of Art, an institution that played a major role  in the development of the arts in the UK.

John RochaThe school creates graduates who are robust and collaborative, who understand art as a multi disciplinary expression. This was indeed evident in the fashion show we were treated to on site as part of the re-launch ceremony. The fashion students demonstrated themselves as forward designers, drawing on contemporary culture for inspiration. They showcased excellent skills in areas of knitwear, textiles, draping and pattern cutting.

It is clear that Croydon’s graduate leave with a well rounded understanding of the industry. The fashion course mixes creativity in design with practical skills such as pattern making and business. Classes are of reasonable size meaning students receive the attention and guidance they deserve.

Graduate of the 2007 BA in Fashion with Business, Martina Rink, has since founded her own publishing company and has recently authored a book of tributes to Isabella Blow. She told us of her experience at the school:

The energy I got from this college was very helpful to me in succeeding in the world that’s out there. I didn’t want a course that didn’t prep me for the fashion world and what it was really going to be like out there. I left very prepared for the industry.”

The New Rotunda Extension

The New Rotunda Extension

While much of the original screen-printing, etching, relief printing and letterpress equipment has been retained in the newly refurbished facilities, students will now have digital facilities including the latest computer technologies available to them. Prospective students choose from a wide range of dynamic courses available taught by highly experienced lecturers.

Indeed, tutors who head CSA courses are often still active within their respective industries, meaning students learn from successful professionals with broad and current experience.

Gayle Atkins is Head of BA Fashion at Croydon School of Art. She holds an MA in Fashion from Central St. Martins and has a wealth of experience in the fashion industry, working with high end and high street labels throughout her career.  From time to time she also contributes to Modeconnect. She told us:

“I hope the marketing of the re-launch and traditional alumni of the past translates through to young people in the local area and beyond. I believe our fantastic facilities will attract quality students. We provide employable graduates with sound technical skills. This is what is needed in the fashion industry today.”



Written by Therese Mullan

Therese Mullan

Therese Mullan is a blogger, presenter and costume stylist from Dublin. After running the wardrobe department of the Focus Theatre, she came to London in 2011 to work under Tony award winning designer Ultz at The Royal Court Theatre. From there she worked under rapper Plan B on his feature film Ill Mannors and has since worked extensively as a music stylist. She is currently the presenter of JAMM TV, an online music channel based in South London and has recently founded the community arts channel Brixton Buzz TV. Therese also blogs regularly for Brixton Jamm and Le Cool London.