Innovation and imagination are the hallmarks of our fine art teaching; this practice-based course will challenge and inspire you, developing the creative, technical, critical, reflective and enterprising skills to forge a successful and sustainable career in contemporary art.
With access to a range of workshops, industry-standard software, photographic and media resources, you will have the opportunity to explore individual and collaborative 2D, 3D and 4D practices in our spacious studios, experimenting with digital, intermedia and traditional art forms.
For over 150 years, our creative community has played a major role in shaping cultural, political and social lives all over the world. Our graduates have won animation Oscars, Academy Award nominations, Penguin book cover prizes, D&AD and Sky Arts awards. Fine Art graduates have been recipients of the Independent Vision Award for Curatorial Achievement, awarded by Independent Curators International in New York, nominated for the prestigious VG Foundation award at the Annely Juda Gallery, London and runner up in the national Gilchrist-Fisher Painting Award.
You will be taught by practising artists, art historians, and writers who have exhibited at the Prague Biennale, the Royal Academy of Arts, Kwangju Biennale in South Korea and the Conflux Festival in New York. Their work can be found in collections such as the Arts Council of Great Britain, Tate Britain, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Museum Beelden aan Zee in the Netherlands.
Contemporary fine art practice incorporates a range of approaches, modern and traditional, autobiographical and personal, issues or research-driven. You will consider these throughout your studies, as well as the wider social, political and cultural debates that inform and enrich art, your own and that of others.
Why choose this course?
Our degree mixes cutting-edge with traditional technologies to reflect the evolving world of contemporary art.
With an emphasis on interdisciplinary and international practice, we will encourage you to become a highly skilled and self-sufficient practitioner with good working habits and a clear understanding of the placement of your work within historical and contemporary social, political and cultural contexts.
We offer a rich experience of guided assignment briefs, self-initiated projects, national or international competitions, ‘live’ projects, and both internal and external exhibition opportunities. Typical graduate portfolios include: painting, drawing, ceramics, sculpture, installation, photography, performance, digital media, moving image production and socially engaged practice. Socially engaged practice is work such as Ai Wei Wei’s ‘Sunflower Seeds’ installation exhibited in the Tate Modern Turbine Hall or the activist, community work of the collaborative art group Assemble.
Preparing you for graduation and the world of work, from the outset we aim to develop the professional skills associated with evaluating, exhibiting and distributing your work, which will become more visible to the outside world as the course progresses and your confidence grows. You will first share work in a ‘safe’ environment, making use of the two formal gallery spaces within the University, later having opportunities to showcase your work within a range of external spaces in the city and the wider West Midlands region, such as the final year Interim Exhibition at FARGO Gallery, the level 3 Student Auction at the Herbert Art Gallery, Coventry and the level 2 group exhibition Bourn at the Stryx Gallery in Birmingham’s Eastside, culminating with the final public degree show, which can attract a very large audience of professional artists, curators, cultural and creative organisers and gallerists as well as friends and family.
Professional experience is embedded into our course, which is why we have such high levels of graduate employability.
Throughout you will produce professional outputs which can be exhibited in public and used to target curators, arts and cultural administrators, publishers, agents, media organisations, competitions, residency and exhibition opportunities and potential employers.
International experience opportunities
Our teaching is underpinned by a worldview of contemporary art; this is reflected strongly in the course curriculum which includes taught sessions on Globalism, Travel and Migration and provides opportunities to engage with students, staff and artists from a culturally and geographically diverse range of backgrounds.
Each year we also offer study trips abroad (subject to additional costs and application), previously to Berlin to visit gallery’s such as Hamburger Bahnhof and the KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Amsterdam to visit the Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum and Foam Gallery and Venice to view artworks and attend events at the Venice Biennale which represents artwork from 86 different countries in national pavilions, and for the first time this year, also includes a Diaspora Pavilion.
Students are also sometimes invited to participate in projects run by our AA2A artists. They also benefit from the rich research culture in the department, potentially being invited to assist with staff research projects as studio assistants, conference delegates and workshop participants.
Our connections with the Canal Basin Trust mean that students have the opportunity to undertake studio visits and meet the artists working there to hear directly from them about their developing artworks.
Some of our students run the Student Union Art Society which provides a thriving programme of art related social events for students across the campus, such as visits to exhibitions and Drink and Draw evenings. This is a great way for students to connect with other students outside of their own course around a shared interest in art appreciation while also expanding their knowledge.