From education to employment

Martha Pengelly comes full circle helping young people to access the arts

Student from Plympton returns to support the course she first attended aged 4

19-year-old BA (Hons) Illustration student Martha Pengelly, from Plympton, supports young people to access weekend art courses at Plymouth College of Art, bringing her full circle in a journey that began when she first started attending Young Arts clubs on Saturdays at the college at the age of four.

Alongside the first year of her undergraduate studies at Plymouth College of Art, Martha, acts as a paid Student Ambassador, helping out at events at the university-sector art school. One of the roles that she fulfils as a Student Ambassador is to support the Young Arts programme, which was established in 1988 to bridge the gap in arts provision for young people whose creative education might be limited by curriculum changes or limited access to resources and equipment in schools.

Martha Pengelly – Photo by BA (Hons) Commercial Photography student Georgia Eason

Martha said: “I’ve been coming to Plymouth College of Art for as long as I can remember, since I was old enough to attend the Young Arts clubs that were running at the time. Coming here gave me opportunities to try things that I wouldn’t have done at home, from printmaking and ceramics to things like photography. I was drawing regularly, but there were resources and equipment in Plymouth College of Art that I had no access to at home. Here I could practice and learn new skills. I attended Young Arts and Saturday Arts activities off and on until I was 15.


“When I was old enough, I chose to come to Plymouth College of Art to study a UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma in Graphics, Illustration & Game Arts instead of staying at school for A-Levels. Studying in Palace Court was great, I absolutely loved it. It was such a big change from school, I cared about working hard a lot more than I had done and really enjoyed every day. It was such a good experience that staying here for my BA (Hons) Illustration degree was a natural decision.


“I’m in the first year of my degree now and since I secured a role as a Student Ambassador, I get a chance to help the Saturday Arts sessions, which is weird but amazing. Every now and then it hits me that I was attending these sessions when I was their age and now I get to help run them. Knowing how happy it made me when I was their age and knowing that attending Young Arts might help them to discover what they want to do when they’re older, I love being able to support that.”


From 2018 to 2020 Martha studied a UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma in Creative Practice: Graphics, Illustration & Game Arts at Plymouth College of Art, earning a Distinction, which is equivalent to 3 A*s at A-level (or 168 UCAS points for a university application). After initially thinking she might specialise in digital art for games, Martha has spent more time painting recently and is looking into options for illustrating children’s books, but wants to keep her options open as she experiments with new styles for future modules of her degree.

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