I started a Masters degree in fine art, applying just ten days before the course started. A big decision, but I’m already reaping the rewards of postgraduate study.
I was a bit terrified... As a mature student, many of my tutors were younger than me. But I knew this was something I wanted to do.
Back in 2016 I made the decision to start a BA (Hons) in fine art. My children had already graduated university and were leading their own lives when I decided I needed a change. I was already a published photographer, so exploring the realm of fine art felt like it would help me contextualise my practice and understand where I was coming from.
Following my BA (Hons) I felt equipped to move forward: I was branching out to sculpture, ethical taxidermy and installations as well as experimenting with my photography work in a fine art context. While the BA gave me the tools and knowledge, I knew I needed to expand on this. I considered a teaching degree. I knew this could be extremely useful but it wouldn’t give me that specialised understanding that studying an MA in fine art would.
I contemplated taking a couple of years out, to work on my practice and see what else was out there, but I missed the learning environment after a few weeks and I wanted to go back. In 2019, I graduated from my BA and within a few months I had discussed with my family members about returning to university do an MA. With their encouragement, I applied (rather late) to ARU.
I had ARU in mind, because one of my previous tutors had recommended that my practice would be enhanced by working with the tutors at Cambridge School of Art.
This was the best advice I was given. I picked the tutor, not just the university. I was looking for the relationships I could build, inside and outside the university and at the contacts and possibilities it could give me. Cambridge and ARU have given me that.
When I say I applied ‘rather late’ I mean I applied with less than ten days before semester started. The course leader, Dr Veronique Chance, was so helpful and encouraging. I was invited to visit the Cambridge studios and given a tour of everything, from wood workshops to photography studios. The facilities here are amazing and studio access here is a definite plus. Lots of MA courses don’t give you a space to work in, but at ARU I have my own designated space.
After my application and interview which looked at my portfolio, I was offered a place. I jumped at the chance. In a few months I will be 50, so I didn’t want to waste any time. I know that this is the right decision for me to enhance my practice and increase my theoretical and contextual understanding of fine art.
By opting to study part-time it has given me the most incredible opportunity to take my time as I explore an art environment that is exciting, contemporary and relevant. I can soak in the experiences that ARU offers me and finely tune and hone my skills.
I also have time to carry on caring for elderly mother and to work as an ambassador at the University. Even though I commute from Essex, coming to Cambridge will expand both my network and my practice.
These are all the advantages and experiences that I will embrace while studying at ARU and I know I will love every second of it.
By Deborah Lander
MA Fine Art student
If you're interested in postgraduate study, like Deborah, you can choose from more than 100 Masters degrees at ARU. Browse courses or come and explore at our next Open Evening.