The Fine Art pathway aims to provide students with the ability to undertake self-directed work within a broad range of disciplines.

The structure of the pathway provides a means by which students can contextualise their work, whilst forming a knowledge and understanding of the current debates which underpin fine art practice. This structure is based around an intensive series of critique sessions (crits), tutorials and seminars together with studio and workshop teaching. Students are exposed to a number of processes and ways of working including video, photography, performance, drawing, painting and sculpture.

The area starts with a series of short projects. These projects will introduce ways of developing ideas through media ‘play’ in relation to different fields such as drawing, performance, video and photography. At the end of this period you will begin to develop a series of individual projects guided by staff in tutorials and group crits.

Crits are seen as the vital ingredient in the delivery of the fine art area. They provide the opportunity to become verbally articulate regarding your developing practice and also to constructively interact with your peers. Crits focus on work currently in progress and are an opportunity to debate readings of student work on a number of levels.

Seminars will be used to address issues and concepts pertinent to current fine art practice. It is intended that they provide you with a knowledge and understanding of current debates within this field, whilst also providing you with a forum to contribute your own ideas and opinions to these debates.

Fine art students are timetabled into a series of workshops which are designed to support a developing individual studio practice. These will be available on a sign up basis as the course progresses and will include: photography, printmaking, video editing and construction skills. There will also be studio-based workshops run by fine art staff in areas pertinent to their research.


What is Fine Art?

“It is hard to argue for anything as being imperative for art - that is one of the things which makes art interesting, as far as I am concerned. It is a specialism that holds nothing special, necessarily - with many reversals of value and sense. It is itinerant and promiscuous, borrowing from other discourses and disciplines. No knowledge, skill or facility is uniquely significant to it, and none can be ruled out as irrelevant.”
- Elizabeth Price

Fine Artists —
set their own agendas which tend to focus on a developing set of concerns explored over an extended time scale (sometimes an artist’s entire career).

Fine Art is —
rooted in a tradition of change. It constantly challenges its own boundaries and has often re-invented itself.

Fine Art is —
non-functional in the sense that design is functional. It is centred around artist-led initiatives as opposed to client / designer relationships.

Fine Art is —
a discipline which engages visually with our culture and which constantly reviews its means of effective communication to a contemporary audience.

What does Fine Art look like?

  • Contemporary fine art can incorporate an extended notion of what painting, sculpture and printmaking can be, however photography, film and video - together with performance - are equally important mediums.

  • It encompasses a plurality of approaches, which simultaneously coexist. For instance, figurative painting, video installation, formal abstract sculpture, interventionist strategies, performance and socially aware public projects have all become potential and valid modes of fine art practice.

  • Fine Art practice increasingly involves the diverse use of materials and processes. This has led to a cross fertilisation of categories; painters who use photographs within their work, video artists who are concerned with sculptural and spatial issues, sculptors who only exhibit photographs of their work etc.

Where is it seen?

Potentially anywhere. From a wide range of museums and galleries to public spaces and alternative sites such as billboards, underground stations, shops, magazines, books and the internet.

From international museums like Tate Modern in London and MOMA in New York, to independent spaces such as Serf in Leeds. From high profile international dealers and commercial galleries like White Cube and Lisson Gallery in London to regional commercial galleries with a more local client base such as Paper Gallery in Manchester.

London is widely acknowledged as the 2nd largest international art centre after New York and has in excess of 150 commercial and independent galleries. The North of England has a vibrant art scene, rivalling London’s, with new spaces opening all the time. International art fairs and biennials are now an important part of the contemporary art world. These tend to be large scale events which take place across multiple venues within a city. They sometimes occur annually, sometimes biannually, sometimes every five or ten years. There are currently over 50 art fairs and biennials throughout the world.

What career opportunities does a Fine Artist have?

Being an artist is a way of life. Artists work in many ways in order to earn a living from their practice. Some have dealers and exhibit within museums and galleries. Others earn a living through commissions, exhibition fees, fellowships and residencies, and through applying for bursaries and grants in order to develop their practice.

Some professional artists work with one or more assistant or technician. These assistants and technicians have generally had a fine art training. For instance Antony Caro was Henry Moore’s assistant, Richard Wentworth was Antony Caro’s assistant, Rachel Whiteread was Alison Wilding’s assistant, Dinos Chapman was Gilbert and George’s assistant.

Emerging artists often have another part-time job to support their practice. Most public and commercial galleries work with teams of technical staff to install exhibitions. Most of these staff have art training as do most curatorial teams. Artists often also teach within the HE, FE and schools sector.

Fine art study engenders creative and critical thinking, which is highly sought after by a wide range of creative disciplines. Musicians Brian Eno, David Byrne, Graham Coxon (Blur), Bob Hardy (Franz Ferdinand) and Alt J all studied fine art as did film makers Derek Jarman, Mike Leigh, David Lynch and Steve McQueen.

Fine art courses ultimately aim to equip students with the skills to pursue an independent practice as a fine artist. However, graduates inevitably sometimes end up working in the design industries as well as within the broader cultural industries due to the transferable skills they learn within their courses. This is often, initially, as a way of beginning to support their career as a fine artist.