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Why study a fine art degree?

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Why study a fine art degree? We often get asked this at the University of Sunderland. Find out why from Fine Art graduate Stephanie Goldsmith.

Generous studio space, the support of passionate academics and the opportunity to exhibit her work professionally in the Fine Art Degree Show led Stephanie to achieve her career ambitions. She is now Gallery Learning Facilitator at the largest glass and ceramics department in Europe, National Glass Centre. Stephanie shares her thoughts on getting the most out of your Fine Art course.

"I made friends for life on the Fine Art course."

"I loved my course," says Stephanie. "The professional practice, in particular working in the studio and really being encouraged to experiment with art was amazing. I also loved meeting and learning with the people on my course; I made friends for life.

"The lecturers helped and encouraged me to apply for jobs and volunteer positions. I was able to volunteer for the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art (NGCA) through suggestions from my lecturers, which gave me very useful experience. Their emails with job opportunities and potential art projects is how I first heard about and applied for a position at National Glass Centre," adds Stephanie.

"I've been able to develop my skills as an art worker but also as a facilitator."

"I work for National Glass Centre as a Gallery Learning Facilitator. The constant contact time that I was able to get meant I could ask a lot of questions about what was available for me after I finished my course and what sorts of jobs would lead me to where I wanted to be. The chats I had with my lecturers really helped me to get myself out there and apply for volunteer roles and employment opportunities when they became available.

"Working at National Glass Centre has given me great experience and confidence. I've been able to develop my teaching skills in workshops and tours of the gallery; I'm also involved in exhibition organisation, and I've been encouraged to learn and experience, through different roles, all there is to know about working within an arts organisation. Through my time here I've also been given the opportunity of teaching my own five-week adult course in drawing which I'm particularly proud of. I've been able to develop my skills as an art worker but also as a facilitator in both families and children and adult courses," adds Stephanie.

Student working in the gallery

Here at the University of Sunderland, you’ll benefit from your own generous studio space, which is yours to test out your work cultivate your creativity. You'll also have access to fully-equipped workshops for wood, metal and printmaking, including digital studios with video, sound editing and screening facilities, and digital suites with Apple Macs including the latest software and Adobe Creative Cloud suite.

"The studio spaces really helped me to prioritise my work and manage a routine. It was a space I had to organise myself so I could create work in time for deadlines, which was valuable experience that I use daily in prioritising and managing my workload,” explains Stephanie.

"It’s a great university with great support to encourage you to succeed."

"I took part in the Fine Art Degree Show. It was very exciting exhibiting my work and it was also a tad stressful and a lot of hard work, but that’s just because you cared about how your work would be shown. The idea that potential employers or influential people could view your pieces was quite a drive for me to get across my style of painting and concepts in the right way."

You'll have the opportunity to showcase your work and test it in a space with an audience in the Fine Art Degree Show. The event allows you to exhibit your work professionally alongside your peers and gives you the opportunity to network with professional artists. In addition, you'll have further opportunities to network with internationally recognised artists thanks to our strong industry contacts with the art world. Previous guest speakers have included Anthony Faroux, Eleanor Moreton, Laura Lancaster, George Shaw and Dan Silver.

Stephanie adds: "To get the most out of your course I think it’s definitely about investing your time wisely. Show up, get to know the people you're with, and enjoy the social aspect of it. Take part in group discussions if you feel confident enough too. Be brave and do things you might be frightened of doing. It’s all there to help you for life after university. Make the most of the experiences on offer, and remember that lecturers are there to help you. If you commit your time well to whatever course you’re on you can get a lot out of your lecturers and the facilities. It’s a great university with great support to encourage you to succeed."

Stephanie is just one of many graduates who have gone on to rewarding careers in the arts. In fact, 92.6% of our BA (Hons) Fine Art graduates are in employment or further study within six months of graduating*. We think that speaks for itself.


*According to DLHE 2015/16 (based on UK students). 

Published: 11 September 2017