Shannon Fennell's Blog

My life, art, travel, make-up, cooking and the occasional rant!

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Getting started

I’m now registered, enrolled and paid my tuition for year one of my MA Fine Art at the University of Plymouth.

I was assessed as an International Student (as I don’t have permanent residency status – I have to be here five years before I would be able apply,) so the tuition is pretty high. Percentage-wise it is a lot lower than my old school in Canada. For my program, UK residents pay £500/10 credits, international students pay £850/10 credits; it is 60 credits per year so my annual tuition (remember, this is a three-year program) is £5,100 (approximately $8,104 Canadian at the time I paid it!) And next year it increases.

Generally, international students are not part-time because you can’t get a Student Visa for part-time programs. But I am here on a different type of Visa that lets me do what I want, as in work, study or not. Figuring out how to classify me took three departments! But as I hadn’t met the specifics of permanent residency, I’m considered an International Student.

Masters are quite a different animal from undergraduate programs. Massive amounts of reading and research, group discussions/critiques, one-to-one tutorials, totally self-directed as to media/accessing studios/project scope, lots of “optional” activities like workshops, artist’s talks, gallery shows. I’m taking it all in and adapting to it. In my professional life I am a task oriented person – I like having a brief to fulfill (provided by clients/employers/or survival requirements.) Here, I will be setting my own parameters, and getting guidance and feedback on what I am doing. A bit different than I am used to, but I am looking forward to pushing myself past my comfort zone.

Last Tuesday we had an introductory workshop in the Mold Making/Casting Studio – somewhat of a refresher for me as I have done life casting, but wow – so many materials and options are available in the studio! It has opened my mind up to ways I can incorporate it into my project. Now that I’ve had the introduction to the studio I can book time in it to work on my project(s) and get advice and assistance from the technician. We got to make some coasters for practise, and create a small silicone mold after sculpting something to cast. The coaster molds were provided, I made three – the two blue ones were ready to take home but the yellow hadn’t set enough to remove, and the silicone mold had to cure a lot longer. The studio tech said she would take the cast from our molds for us, and that the molds would be reusable. I might use mine in ceramics! I didn’t remember to take a photo of my sculpted item before pouring in the silicone. I really need to remember to take photo of processes.

Tuesday this week is the introduction to the Metal Workshop – which is something I’m unfamiliar with. It involves power tools… I’m not a huge fan of those, but I am interested. There is always a chance of collaborating with others in our projects so… finding out what the possibilities are is important.