From 2000, VITA has continued to flourish under the auspices of The Prince’s Foundation, taking on, not only more students, but also more specialist staff, and winning wide recognition for its work both at home and abroad. VITA forms the core education programme of HRH The Prince of Wales’s newly formed Prince’s School of Traditional Arts (PSTA).
VITA was founded to specialise in the arts and architecture of Islam as well as the traditional arts of other civilisations. One of the principle aims of VITA is to encourage an appreciation of the universal values that are fundamental to the arts of the great traditions of the world.
The work of VITA represents more than just an education for the eyes, hands and mind: it has an impact on the soul through an objective understanding of the full meaning of art. Traditional art asks the viewer to look not at the work as a personal expression of the individual artist but on the artist’s particular evocation of a universal principle.
The Ethos of VITA
VITA aims to encourage an awareness amongst the students that form, pattern and colour, as manifested in the various branches of traditional arts, are not simply aesthetically pleasing or demonstrations of good design, but embody a profound beauty – the beauty of the permanent that shines through in the world of the transient.
So many of the world’s sacred traditions and traditional art forms have already been destroyed; it is one of the objectives of VITA to work on a practical solution to the threat of extinction faced by the traditional arts. It offers candidates from all over the world and all different cultures the chance to study and practise a traditional art/craft as a vocation. It is also in a unique position to offer guidance in a movement towards understanding and tolerance between these cultures – rarely has there been such an opportunity for international exchange.
The VITA Programme is a balance between the teaching of practical skills and the background and symbolic meaning inherent within the art produced by these skills. The course responds to the root meaning of the word ‘educate’ – that is, to ‘draw forth’ or ‘bring out’ latent talent and skills, rather than to ‘push in’; this means that both staff and students work and discuss actively together. Geometry is one of the four traditional arts/sciences of the ‘Seven Liberal Arts’ (‘liberal’ in the sense of liberating the soul from material concerns) and was considered as a universal language by Plato. The practical courses are taught in conjunction with seminars and include: Islamic calligraphy, geometry of structure & pattern, Persian miniature, methods & materials, lettering, ceramics, stained glass, islimi, mosaic, Indian miniature and wood inlay.
The Structure of the Academic Programme
Masters Degree Course (M.A.)
The degree of Master of Arts is awarded by the PSTA through the University of Wales. The normal length of a Master’s Degree is two years full-time.
Candidates can undertake an MA Degree by two methods:
• By Course – mainly practical work with a written piece 5-7,000 words to be submitted at the beginning of the second year.
• By Project – a combination of practical and written work, the written work comprising a maximum 20,000 words.
Master of Philosophy Degree (MPhil)
The degree of Master of Philosophy is awarded by the PSTA through the University of Wales. The normal length of a Master of Philosophy degree is one year full-time or two years part-time; however, in some cases the first year full-time equivalent of an MPhil degree is considered as a probationary period for a Doctoral degree (PhD). An MPhil is a research degree (theory-based, as distinct from the Master of Arts degree), awarded after the successful completion of an approved programme of supervised research comprising approximately 50,000 to 60,000 words.
Doctor of Philosophy Degree (PhD)
The degree of Doctor of Philosophy can be undertaken by one of two methods:
(i) theory-based, research degree, awarded after the successful completion of an approved programme of supervised research which constitutes an original contribution to knowledge. This will comprise approximately 80,000 to 100,000 words; or
(ii) a combination of practical and theory, the theory ranging from 15,000 to 50,000 words as agreed between student and supervisor.
Post Experience Diploma Course (PED)
The length of this course is agreed between the candidate and the Director of the Programme. Normally it is one year, but it can be shorter. PED students are required to attend all the courses programmed for MA students in the Autumn and Spring terms. Otherwise their own self-directed programme is agreed with the Director.