Fine Art MA/MFA
Foreword by Penny McCarthy
Postgraduate study in Fine Art is practice-based environment where a diverse community shares studio-focussed learning through a series of carefully designed teaching experiences. We are committed to study as a shared activity where practitioners come together to learn and collaborate. In the past few years, our course identity and focus on the studio community has generated exceptional UK PTES scores. Over the pandemic, our challenge has been to foreground these values of the studio in new ways: a community of artists, making space, critical development, and learning together.
Academic staff are engaged in practice-led forms of research and the course flourishes through links to the range of their research interests, exhibitions and publications. The college environment has grown from exceptional research in the Art and Design Research Centre (ADRC) in which research is entwined with contemporary practice in the broader context of world-leading research. Fine Art study draws on the extraordinary resources provided by a rich culture of art practice in the wider community of the city. We are part of Sheffield’s long history of diverse and dynamic cultural practice, artists and creatives. We work with a number of professional networks, including studio groups, galleries, museums and other arts organisations.
During the year, the course calendar was full of wonderful and original exhibitions and events involving students. Work was shown in group shows in public spaces and also as self-initiated individual projects in a range of forms and spaces that included projections onto buildings, exhibitions in homes and on the sides of buildings, works as clothing, publications, audio works, moving images and digital projects. Many of these works were hybrids of new and traditional forms that set out to reconsider artistic identity in our contemporary world.
This year the Covid public health emergency made it impossible to showcase work as a public exhibition at the end of the academic year. This made it necessary for students to explore individual and collective public-facing platforms, not only as digital projects but also as innovative and resilient projects that developed as a way to respond to the pandemic restrictions. We were impressed and moved by the agile response of our students as they took on the challenges of continuing to share their ideas in the new context.
As the degree show moves to a virtual platform, we feel for those who did not complete their course as they had hoped. We miss the experience we hoped to share with you of seeing the work in person, to see its staging in time and place. Yet in new ways, the graduating cohort reflects the contemporary art world by opening up new forms and strands of practice, formed and reinvented by shifting definitions of practice and prevailing cultural conditions. It is an amazing achievement. There is a sense of excitement surrounding the achievements, ambition and conviction of the students graduating today. It is exhilarating to support emerging artists on their path to discovery and recognition. In their company, we feel optimistic about the future of art.
Penny McCarthy is Course Leader Postgraduate Fine Art and Reader in Fine Art