BM Arts | University Application Outcomes 2023

This year’s application outcomes mark another highly successful year for Bonas Macfarlane Arts, the art and design wing of Bonas Macfarlane. All current clients applying for entry 2023 achieved an offer from their first choice course at foundation, degree and postgraduate levels. Once again these included globally top ranking institutions such as The Royal College of Art (RCA), University of Arts London (UAL), Goldsmiths University, Manchester University, Glasgow School of Art and The Architectural Association (AA) London. We were very proud to see one client gain an offer from University of Central London (UCL) / The Bartlett School of Architecture for their world-renowned Architecture degree. Other subject areas gaining offers included fine art, photography, fashion design and graphic design.

Architecture had a particularly strong showing this year, with clients gaining multiple offers at different educational stages. Client M applied to foundation and degree courses, gaining foundation offers from Central Saint Martins (3DDA specialist pathway) and The Architectural Association’s foundation program. Initially it had been her view that foundation applications would be a backup (albeit a very hard to achieve ‘safety net’) in case her degree offers didn’t work out as hoped. However, a visit to the CSM open day accompanied by myself proved highly illuminating in terms of how a foundation can prepare students for degree level study. Not being a subject on the school curriculum, architecture often raises the question of how well a student can know the subject before committing to a 3-year degree and even longer professional qualification timeframe (7-8 years). Speaking directly with students and looking at their sketchbooks was incredibly informative and really changed M’s opinion on the value of a foundation year. I also arranged a meeting between M and a former client who I helped gain a place on the AA’s foundation and then degree program, and her insights proved highly valuable to M’s considerations. M gained degree offers from Manchester University and Oxford Brookes, but it was an offer from UCL / Bartlett that she really wanted, and duly gained. We navigated this surplus of options by deferring her UCL offer, thus allowing her to undertake the AA foundation (opted for over the CSM option – not many people reject an offer from the CSM foundation!) and then decide next year whether to stay at the AA and apply for their Part 1, or take up her offer from UCL for Parts 1 and 2 on their MSci.

Client M feedback:

Thank you so much for all your help with my portfolio and for all you’ve done these last two years, I couldn’t have achieved this without you.”

Another student, Client N originally approached us in 2017 while on the foundation at CSM. Her application to their architecture degree had been rejected, leaving her degree options she wasn’t happy with. My brief was to look into whether there was any way we could get CSM to reconsider their decision, to open up other possible options for her, and to support her final project to ensure the highest possible grade for her foundation studies. We worked intensively to address her methods and approach, turning her previous and current projects around and re-presenting them to CSM in a bid to get them to reconsider their decision, which isn’t usually an option. We managed to get a second interview, and finally a reversal of their decision and an offer of a place. Last year N contacted me again as she had completed her Architecture Part 1 at CSM but had subsequently been rejected from the Part 2 / MA applications she had made independently.  She was aiming high; her first choice was the Royal College of Art who had rejected her application first time round. Postgrad applications are particularly complex with many facets, including written and video tasks alongside a professional level portfolio. We worked hard to review her previous applications, revise her portfolio and statements and redo video submissions as well as adding new content to all aspects, and remarkably gained multiple Part 2 offers including the AA and her number one choice, the RCA.

Client N feedback:

I started working with Darren during my Foundation Course in 2016 after I had already gone though an unsuccessful first interview to continue on to First Year in the same university. We worked together to completely change the format, to improve my portfolio and to work on my presentation skills. I got a chance to do a second interview, which resulted in gaining a place to start my Part 1 BA Architecture course. Since then, I have worked with Darren on multiple occasions – not only for guidance and counselling but also working through and editing essays for important submissions. More recently, we have worked together on my Postgraduate application. This was my second attempt at a few of the universities I was planning on applying to which led to not only carefully improving the look and feel of the portfolio, but also adding more in-depth analysis of the projects, bringing more substance to the written submissions and structuring the video tasks some universities required. Although it was a challenge to balance the application process whilst working full time, Darren has made it so easy to track the progress and be on top of our deadlines even with a busy schedule. Now, I am proud to say that I have gained an offer to start my Part 2 MA Architecture Degree in the upcoming Fall. I am so happy and grateful to have been working with Darren through such important milestones in my life. It has always been tough but fruitful in the end. I will continue to keep in contact in the future and will gladly work together again if I need help with anything. I would recommend the Bonas Macfarlane services to friends/family without hesitation.

These successes are rooted in the unique approach to mentoring and tuition BM Arts has developed over more than 10 years. During this period I have attended a multitude of open days and final shows, absorbing insights delivered by course leaders into preferences for application content and the different approaches taken by institutions to the vast array of subject areas in art and design. The portfolios of clients M and N, for example, took very different approaches to the same subject. Our experience means we understand that Architecture foundation and degree portfolios shouldn’t necessarily contain technical architectural drawings such as floor plans, or architectural scale models. Rather than trying to impersonate a professional architect, these early stages of study place more emphasis and value on imagination and the presence of a unique voice, with spatial awareness and three-dimensional form to the fore, but with more of an artistic than an architectural approach. Post-grad portfolios on the other hand should reflect professional level abilities and experience, albeit with a breadth and flexibility that compliments the desire to study further and respond to that process.

I already have several current clients booked in for intensive summer portfolio building sessions at my studio, where visits to the nearby Henry Moore Studios and Gardens are usually a catalyst for large scale sculptures made in the garden around my studio (as Client M did last summer, and the former client who advised her did the summer before). It is with immense excitement, curiosity and a passion for all things art and design that I wait to welcome these current and future clients as they work towards applications in fields as diverse as fashion, fine art, product design, illustration, graphic design and architecture to name but a few, and as they set about stamping their unique voices on their chosen art form.

For more information contact Darren Marshall, Head of Art, Bonas MacFarlane