MA Fine Art
Arts and Digital Industries
Our course encourages you to develop your ambitious and innovative work within the supportive atmosphere of studio-based practice and under the close supervision of some of Britain’s leading artists.
We’ve been providing opportunities for ground-breaking talent since the Chapman brothers started making their dramatic impression back in the 1980s.
Now, Professor Grenville Davey, the 1992 Turner Prize winner who runs the course, believes it just keeps getting better.
The core elements of the course are designed to be challenging and enjoyable, to offer a rich, vibrant and varied experience in the fine arts.
There is a strong professional practice element so you will be encouraged to get involved in ‘real world’ projects – usually exhibitions, commissions, or residencies.
The course culminates in the degree show, which is a significant showcase for your work, attracting large numbers of visitors from the art world as well as the general public.
You will be learning from the best. The leader of the course is the brilliant, friendly and accessible Turner Prize-winning sculptor, Professor Grenville Davey.
This course has an impressive reputation for producing fine artists of considerable originality and quality.
You will have excellent opportunities to exhibit your work and take advantage of our close relationships with many galleries and of our regular engagement with professional venues and practices.
What we're researching
Among our renowned academic team are Senior Lecturer Faisal Abdu'Allah, whose extraordinary work crosses the borders of photography, the printed image and lens-based installation. He’s exhibited at Tate Britain and the National Portrait Gallery.
Senior Lecturer Susan Stockwell has also enjoyed critical acclaim for her elegant drawings, sculptures and installations, which have been exhibited all over the world from London’s Victoria and Albert Museum to the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern to China’s Shenghua Art Centre.
Susan was commissioned by the National Army Museum to lead a two-year research project exploring the interconnected themes of the Army, conflict and rehabilitation.
Working in workshops with soldiers from two UK recovery centres, encouraging them to use drawing, sewing and quilting to unlock their memories, the collaboration led to the creation of a remarkable patchwork quilt, entitled Peace Makers – a symbolic flag for peace, justice, equality and humanity.
Professor Grenville Davey, the Turner Prize-winning sculptor who leads our MA course, has produced a number of high-profile public art projects, including Well, which was commissioned by Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and Inter Alia – a commission for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The latter was an installation reflecting human presence in the form of a series of hand prints cast in aluminium bronze.
Making a difference
UEL is one of the UK’s leading modern research universities. In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF), 17 per cent of our overall research submission was classified as ‘world-leading’ for its quality and impact – almost double our previous REF score. A further 45 per cent of our work was considered ‘internationally excellent’.
MA Fine Art
My advice to MA students would be to make use of the freedom and the general friendliness of UEL to try out lots of different things, to grab tutors and technicians in the corridors and ask them for advice.
Also make use of what London offers — major galleries with major collections, all free! Read a lot, think a lot, draw a lot, go to exhibitions a lot and put a website together.
It can be a long, difficult haul, particularly in these hard times, but I couldn’t do anything else.
What you'll study
- Creative Practice/Critical Concepts (core)
- Personal and Professional Practice (core)
- Independent Project/ Exhibition (core)
How you'll be assessed
We’ll assess you via a 3,500 word critical concepts essay, two digital portfolios and a 2,000-word report on a live project that you initiate yourselves.
We also assess your independent summer project, which you present as an exhibition of your work in the August of your final year.
How you'll learn
We believe our course is taught by such an array of brilliant artists that you will find it hard to match in any other university.
The course is led by Professor Davey, whose remarkable work, HAL, involving steel forms, won him the Turner Prize in 1992 and whose Inter Alia wall now graces the nearby Olympic Park.
“I’m here, accessible all the time,” says Professor Davey after his fourth one-on-one tutorial of the day. He and Karen Raney, the multi-talented writer and painter who edits Engage, the international journal of visual art and gallery education, are your main teachers.
Beyond that, though, there are great opportunities to learn from our talented lecturers, including world-famous sculptor Richard Wilson and Susan Stockwell, whose drawings, sculptures and installations are exhibited worldwide.
Others include the hugely-admired photography artist Faisal Abdu’Allah, pioneering filmmaker John Smith and Alexis Harding, the award-winning painter. “And they’re keen to talk to and work with you,” says Davey.
Their inspiration helps our students produce inspirational work. So does the quality of the technical support – in every area from digital technology to graphics to film – as well as the outstanding facilities and creative space that you will enjoy at our superb AVA building in Docklands.
We also deliver public engagement projects that have a positive impact and directly benefit society. These include major art projects such as Plunge, commissioned by Artsadmin and the London International Festival of Theatre and created by Michael Pinsky (Reader in Fine Art).
Seen by more than half a million people, it sought to draw attention to the city’s great history of public art while also raising awareness among Londoners about climate change.
“I love it here,” says Professor Davey. “I’ve taught at a number of colleges but I particularly love the buzz of this one. It’s a buzz that stays with you even after you leave.
“The development here over the last few years has been incredible, with the quality of technical support and accessibility to technology and professionals now exceptional. The key is that everyone you’ll meet here on this course is a practising artist.”
What you'll learn
You will organise and curate group shows, both as part of the curriculum but also beyond it amid east London’s thriving art scene. Previous exhibition venues have included the RK Burt Gallery, Parfitt Gallery, New Realms Gallery, Seven Seven Gallery and Star Gallery.
Through the Professional Practice element of the course, we will encourage you to develop a wide understanding of the relationship between studio practice and the life of a professional artist.
There will even be opportunities for you to enjoy work experience. For instance, some of our students have worked with Professor Davey on his art projects in the past.
Though there are two written elements over the duration of the course, your final key piece of work will be assessed through an exhibition of your art. It will stand as your major showcase.
Your future career
Some are enjoying success by either exhibiting or selling their work from studios they have set up. Others have developed careers as curators and gallery directors or assistants.
What delights Professor Davey most, though, is that of all the students who graduate from our course, often with distinction, he cannot think of any who are no longer creating and producing fine art in some capacity.
Our success stories from the course are plentiful. Mark Lawrence, who graduated in 2014, was selected to exhibit at major exhibitions for the Jerwood Drawing Prize and the ING Discerning Eye.
Another graduate, Elizabeth Bond, won an Arts Council grant and travelled to China to make a series of prints while Natalia Jezova, a 2014 graduate, has exhibited her work at several different London galleries.
The effervescent and multi-talented Gloria Shizico Yi, a graphic artist and filmmaker, runs her own company now, designing and creating her own fashion.