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Emily Gillbanks

BA (Hons) Fine Art

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Emily Gillbanks

I chose to study at the University of Suffolk because it is small and innovative. I’m not just a number, I’m a person.

The integration of theory and practice, and the fact the assessments are all based on coursework, is why I chose the Fine Art in particular. It’s not about whether you see yourself as an academic or a maker, it’s about having the capability to be able to continuously contextualise your making.

The well-lit studios are where each student is allocated a dedicated space to work in independently alongside peers for all three years of the degree, which has a supremacy in comparison to the amount of space allocated at other institutions.

The first year of the Fine Art degree intrigued me as it encompasses an introduction to a variety of workshops and resembled the structure of a foundation course which enabled me to still experiment and explore avenues of my practice through media I may not have previously. The facilities available also reflected this; printmaking room, 3D printing suite, film studios, digital lens-based media, painting, and contemporary drawing sessions.

The course from day one has helped me to develop my technical painting skills, through workshops and talks with visiting artists. Throughout my three years I have had opportunities to materialise a pertinent contemporary fine art practice, through being able to have direct conversations and dialogue with visiting artists about my works in progress.

I am part of a small cohort of students which enables a personalised experience. The studio environment means fellow students all know each other and each other’s practices. We have regular dedicated one-to-one tutorials with our lecturers, and they track our progress and development weekly.

I’ve really enjoyed getting involved in lots of different aspects of university life. I’ve taken part in the Student Art Ambassador scheme, invigilated for the local Anna Airy Arts Award, and with support of the Students’ Union been involved with project residencies for final year Fine Art students. I have also represented the University at external conferences and was voted Fine Art Student of the Year in 2019, alongside being the Fine Art Course Rep for 2018/19.

I would say to someone coming to Suffolk, get involved with as much as you can, you never know who you will meet and what doors will open.