Not Enhancement Week


Art Lab

I was very excited to have the chance to use the ArtLab, but was disappointed to be told when I arrived that it would not be available to us, unless we give something back (besides the £9,000 we pay in fees per year I assume). I was unable to do the suggested work with them, despite wanting to, because I am moving to Australia in the summer, (where I will be allowed to use the ArtLab things).

First we tried the 3D printers and scanners and managed to successfully scan a 3D template of Fiona Jones’ head, and then print a tiny version of it which took a couple of hours.

Next we made robots inside cups, using magnetised circuit parts like motors and lights. Below is my finished robot.


This term we had to complete a careers module, for which I got 85% and a work experience offer. The lecture for this careers module was much the same as the one I previously attended when it was optional, and is discussed further below from last enhancement week.

This time however, Naomi brought in shoes and offered us the chance to take photos with them, like she does for her social media marketing. In a small group, we set out to take fashion photos of the shoes in an appropriate setting:

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This week I have been thinking a lot about future careers. This was sparked by the Afterlife talk, which made me ask a lot of questions. It finished with our gallery tour on Friday, during which I managed to ask many questions about how the gallery owners, collectors etc. got their jobs and what they do. After completing an online test and looking at the suggested careers, I came up with a few ideas I am considering.

While not ruling out ‘proper artist’, and psychology researcher, my ideas mainly focus on the areas of film production, journalism, and perhaps marketing, after hearing about Naomi…


Two previous University of Reading students came in to give a talk about their work. I took notes on their advice, starting with Naomi. While working on her degree show in 2013, Naomi handed her CVs in to various companies asking for Work Experience. She used the opportunity to explore various different careers and discover what she wanted to do, while knowing that she wanted a job that was constant and had regular pay.

Each work experience informed her likes and dislikes as well as what skills she needed. She advised us to make the most of the facilities at university before we graduate, and learn how to use InDesign, Photoshop, photography and various social medias. Naomi’s pathway led to being a Digital Executive. I have the opportunity to learn InDesign with The Spark Newspaper. Perhaps I will look into designing some pages for them. I also use photoshop from time to time, and I am attending a Photoshop Basics workshop this week.

First Naomi took a three month internship after graduation, as PR. She recommends making yourself indispensable; use skills other people can’t. She spoke of the weeks after this internship in which she was unemployed, looking again for work experience and interviews. I found that work experience was an important part of her career development, and so I will be looking into finding my own work experience this year, or maybe next year.

Naomi had a good idea during this time; as well as handing out CVs she also gave out ‘mailer cards’ with a QR code that leads to augmented reality images of her work. I thought I could create a QR code link for my CV that leads to my online portfolio. 

The second speaker, Jack, goes by Lewdjaw and ended up running a gallery in Bristol, which he didn’t anticipate. He first spent some time in France before going to Bristol, which sounds great to me. He spoke of the art scene in Bristol as still emerging. Jack pointed out that, in comparison to London, the scene has more gaps that needs to be filled, and so there are more opportunities to start a community like he did. I need to consider where I want to live and work after graduation.

Jack first went to Spike Island gallery and studio and met lots of artist peers, some of which he teamed up with to make a publication called Lockjaws*. Jack spoke of the Power of ‘We’; when a group has an idea, it seems less crazy than when one man does. His advice is to be present in the community and meet people, and get to know them. It is a slow process, but important. Spike Island helped him with this.

Some pages of Lockjaws* were given to curators to use as a biennial. Around the time of the first publication, Jack had an opportunity to have an exhibition at Bristol’s Trinity Centre. They used the free space to exhibit some of the artists from the publication. The Trinity Centre acknowledged that they didn’t have an art strand, and so made a deal with Jack to do a show every month in the free room, called the ebc.

The responsibility is very impressive, but when Jack came to the topic of money, it became clear that none of these projects made any money. They are completely unsustainable, if he didn’t earn money in other ways. Jack has flexible part time jobs, and jokes that a good way to stay financially secure is to get married young, like he did. This topic was not encouraging to me.

Jack also had advice about funding for such projects. One example of how he gets funding is through applying to the council. The council was offering funding for creative projects, and when Jack applied, they were given £3000 for a year’s worth of shows, which is not very much.

In bold are the most inspiring things I learnt from their talks; it was great to see graduates working in the field and growing in their careers.

The second half of the day was about MAs and MFAs. First of all, I learned that MAs are one year, and MFAs are two years, in general. As you can tell, I was quite clueless before this meeting. It gave me some insight into the process of MAs, but didn’t give me reasons why I should do an MA. This will require some further research, to decide if I want to go for it. 

I may consider the possibility of trying to start a career after graduating like Naomi and Jack and then start an MA a few years later, perhaps. However, Alun emphasised the point that we should apply while still a student at Reading to make the most of the tutors’ help with the process.

Applying costs money, as do the courses. A student pointed out that Student Finance will provide £10,000 towards the cost of the course. They must therefore be very expensive. They vary from school to school, but some mentioned included The Slade and The RA. Applications are due in January, and you should apply before applying for funding. You will therefore be applying before your degree show work is completed. International MAs won’t be eligible for funding, but are often free or cheaper in various European countries.

You will need a 500 word statement and a portfolio (I will keep the advise for this on paper), as well as referees. When collecting references, referees often ask for you to give bullet points of the things you would like to include. Referees can be hyperbolic about you in a way that you can’t speak about yourself. The courses want their students to create a diverse team and so will look for people with more experience, and from a range of people. For this reason, people are often rejected, as courses are extremely oversubscribed. The next stage is interviewing, and tutors will help with all of this process too.



PhD students taught today’s workshop on the basics of Photoshop, since Angus’ baby arrived! (Congratulations Angus and Christine). Some of the tools that were discussed I already knew about, and I worked with Rebecca Uffindell to create this image using the basic tools: bebeccas-roomI did learn a lot about creating new documents, and saving images with the optimal resolutions and sizes. I made notes about what sizes and resolutions are expected for different scenarios and I will be able to use this every time I want to save a JPG for print, or for web uses.


Wendy took us to nine galleries around East London and Shoreditch, to see a variety of different painters. From 10:30 until 17:00, we walked around and around London, interrupting my usual Enhancement Week activities:


To my untrained eye, these galleries were all quite well hidden, through doorways sometimes quirky, sometimes unremarkable.


I looked a lot at the variety of techniques used, especially texture, layering, and backgrounds, from the various artists including the first one Sanya Kantravosky in Modern Art.


My favourite artist of the day was definitely Njideka Akunyili Crosby, at Victoria Miro. Victoria Miro was also my favourite gallery, with huge ceilings exposed beams and bricks. It had a variety of work, from installations, a wonderful film in a dark room by Isaac Julien, to a flooded house built outside by Alex Hartley. It also had an office filled with Macs and people working for the gallery. This made me question what their job actually was, and whether it would be an option for me. I asked about this at a later gallery where we had a talk.

Njideka Akunyili Crosby incorporates Nigerian culture into every painting in her show Portals by adding patterned fabrics and transferred photographs in her backgrounds. She then partially paints captivating portraits of intimate scenes over the backgrounds with acrylic paint. Below are some of my favourites.

We were lucky enough to receive a talk at the next gallery, Carl Freedman Gallery, during which many questions about how the art world works were answered. For example, the people who work at the gallery work at representing all of their artists and finding new artists. New artists are collected worldwide, found from group shows and referred by other artists, and shown worldwide. This trip, while proving that painting is part of the contemporary art world, also provided a great opportunity to learn about the art world and various different speakers, including Wendy’s, path into their current job and position in that world. They more often than not went via MAs.