After the great feedback and success of publishing our IGNITE website and social media platforms, we decided to shine a spotlight on one graduate, who has uploaded their portfolio to the IGNITE website, each week. Through our Weekly Graduate Spotlight, the graduate chosen will have their work and their experience of The University of Plymouth or Plymouth College of Art promoted and celebrated on our various IGNITE platforms.
For this week’s graduate spotlight, we decided to share Christina’s own words entirely as she had written such excellent answers.
Christina’s Experience of Studying at Plymouth College of Art
I had always harboured some regret at not going to art school back in the day so when I was made redundant at the age of 50, from a curriculum management role in the FE sector, I took the opportunity to rebalance my life, change direction, nourish my enduring passion for art and design, and reinvent myself as a working artist.
Over the last four years, studying with Plymouth College of Art has enabled me to push my creativity in new and exciting directions materially, stylistically and thematically. While the main focus has been on expanding knowledge and refining skills, I have also come to better understand what drives and informs my need to make art. A programme of materials and practice-led research has allowed me to explore new techniques, test ideas, take risks, engage with theory, participate in debate, contextualise my work, and frame new questions to help move my practice forward.
A relatively small institution, PCA has an intimate atmosphere but a very expansive approach to creative teaching and learning. I have worked with staff and students from all over the college, and while my degree is in Painting, Drawing and Printmaking, I also had the opportunity to learn to weld steel, cast glass, solder silver, fire clay and make wooden stretchers. I have also established a strong network of critical friends and mentors who continue to support and encourage my progress.
I have lived in North Cornwall for many years but prior to starting my degree course, I only really visited Plymouth to do Christmas shopping, attend hospital appointments or catch the ferry. However, studying at Plymouth College of Art has helped me get under the skin of the city and I now find I am deeply smitten. It really is an extraordinary place which not only has fascinating and complex histories to investigate, but also a vibrant and dynamic contemporary arts scene that is becoming richer all the time. I will be staying on at PCA to undertake an MA in Fine Art and can’t wait to see the positive impact of projects like The Box and the British Art Show which is coming in 2021.
The work and opportunities Christina will be pursuing
I am particularly interested in art curation in exhibition/gallery and online contexts however, like so many creatives, I anticipate a mixed portfolio of arts based employment in order to make a living as I go forward. Hopefully, this will include more socially engaged activities and collaborative projects alongside my studio practice, both in Plymouth and closer to home in Cornwall.
While I missed having access to the PCA facilities and technicians, I am fortunate enough to have a home studio and a sculpture/wood charring workshop which provided continuity. An extension of module deadlines, a sustained period of glorious weather, and fewer distractions from shopping, employment and socialising also helped my practice to thrive.
No longer being limited to a small slot in a physical degree show enabled me to be more ambitious and imagine working towards a dream ‘one-woman show’ in a large ‘white cube’ exhibition space. The work itself – mainly sculptural pieces made from charred wood and found metal – was informed by the constant stream of news and world affairs as much as by my encounters with landscapes and the objects I unearth while walking. Titled Vanitas: New Relics, it is mostly modest in scale and designed for indoor display, but as lockdown restrictions began to lift, I gained confidence and started producing larger pieces for outdoors.
How Careers support and IGNITE has benefitted Christina
The IGNITE platform provides a professional, industry-standard online presence that is focused not just on the creative output of this year’s arts graduates but is also positioned within the context of promoting Plymouth’s wealth and vigour, and its progress as one of the South West’s most vibrant, creative hubs.
As a mature arts graduate, all opportunities for exposure are welcome and valued, particularly in the current climate. Linking prospective employers with job seekers who have the skills set and outlook they require is crucial to the success of individuals, businesses and the local and regional economy. And it’s being provided for free – what’s not to like? Thank you IGNITE!