Case Study

Michael Branthwaite

Studying Fine Art at the University of Sunderland has led to a varied and colourful career for artist Michael Branthwaite. Armed with both a BA and MA in Fine Art from the University of Sunderland, Michael co-founded the successful artists’ collective Red Nile, which attracts high-quality commissions to create exciting and eye-catching work. His work also landed him an artist in residence post at a Berlin exhibition curated by international art group Zona Dynamic.

Life just seems to get busier which is great. With Red Nile our latest project was for a large-scale sculpture for the National Trust property Cragside, which was undergoing extensive renovation. While in Berlin I worked on collaborative projects with artists from Japan, USA, Israel, Germany and Croatia and there are more projects in the pipeline with Red Nile.
 
Looking back I can see now that I chose Sunderland mainly because I felt its approach to making art lent itself to my interest of sculpture and installation. I really connected with the course at Sunderland and a lot of the principles about attitudes to art and attitudes to making art are still very strong in my practice today, especially in terms of materials and process. It is something which I continue to investigate.
 
While the basis of the course is a balance of thinking and doing, at Sunderland you are also encouraged to explore what goes on in your head in a meaningful way so that it connects with the work you are making. I remember really enjoying my second year as by then I became really switched on to the possibilities of what I could achieve and explore with art. It was great to be given the freedom to develop which is something I have carried with me.
 
Making it as an artist is never easy, but my time at Sunderland taught me that if you are passionate and really want it, you can make it happen.”

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