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How a masters in Visual Practice can help you develop as a creative professional

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Are you an artist looking to develop and sustain your creative practice, while growing your professional profile? Introducing MA Visual Practice – an innovative new course that aims to encourage original ideas, creativity and imaginative thinking, in a relaxed and supportive artistic community.

A student wearing safety goggles, working on some glass lampwork in a studio

Why has the course been developed? 

The Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries recently decided to transform the curriculum of its postgraduate Art and Design courses, to help our students and graduates grow as creative professionals. By combining four distinct routes into one Visual Practice course, and aligning teaching and learning to be more career focused, we believe this course reflects real-world artistic collaboration. Not only will you work with your peers across the four Visual Practice pathways, you'll also have the chance to meet and share practice with MA Design students, as part of our community of postgraduate learners.

What is covered in the course?

You'll select one of our Visual Practice pathways and will follow this route for the duration of the course. While we require applicants to hold an honours degree in an art or design discipline, you don't need prior experience of the area you wish to study, so you may wish to choose a new area to explore and develop as an artist. Through self-directed projects you’ll be encouraged to identify and explore your own working philosophy, whilst deepening your skills and knowledge of key concepts, debates and contexts for contemporary visual practice.

The course is focused on developing your own personal perspective of practice, so it's important that you're equipped with some of the necessary creative, organisational and professional skills needed for independent learning. However, as a valuable member of our artistic community, you’ll be well supported by programme leader, Dr Cate Watkinson and other tutors, as well as encouraged to collaborate with your peers to extend your practice. In this creative environment you'll experiment, research, test and evaluate new approaches and ideas to finally produce a resolved body of artworks which you'll exhibit at a group degree show.

What pathways are available?

There are four pathways: Contemporary Fine Art, Photography, Glass and Ceramics.

Contemporary Fine Art: The specialisms of tutors are an important factor in this pathway; specialisms include painting, printmaking, studio-based drawing and collage, sculpture, collaborative practice, art in architecture, video and digital art. We’ll encourage you to develop your personal practice through studio-led research, critiques, analysis and questioning.

Photography: You'll be joining a vibrant community of creative practitioners and researchers, committed to exploring photography’s expanded field, while developing your professional and peer networks. Teaching takes place at the Northern Centre of Photography, a lively space for critical debate, research and creative production for contemporary photographic theory and practice. You'll advance your individual approach to image-making and enjoy the creative freedom of exploring a range of analogue and digital photographic media, new technologies and platforms.

Glass: You'll be based in the National Glass Centre, a lively and creative space for making, research, theory, and practice. Here, you'll have access to world-class facilities and work alongside regular visiting artists and academics in our spacious department. You'll also be guided through individual tutorial support to find the optimum way for you to express your creative ideas in glass.

Ceramics: Ceramic students will also be based in the National Glass Centre, where you'll be encouraged to develop a conceptual understanding and deep knowledge of ceramics as a material. Like glass students, you'll have the opportunity to grow your practice in a supportive environment and benefit from the experience and specialist knowledge of tutors and technical staff who are all professionals in their field.

What career opportunities are there?

We'll support you to enhance your professional profile, and develop your approach to sustaining your practice with enhanced understanding of contemporary visual arts sector needs and opportunities.

We also have extensive links with Sunderland Culture, which is an innovative organisation that brings together the city’s most important cultural assets and activities. Through the course you’ll gain unique access to the city’s cultural leaders and arts professionals, as well as opportunities to exhibit in Sunderland Culture venues and to participate in live projects and briefs.

Further information

To find out more, including how to apply, check out the MA Visual Practice course page. Alternatively, you can contact Cate directly via cate.watkinson@sunderland.ac.uk

Published: 11 February 2021

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