When you are doing something that you’re really passionate about it can be difficult to separate work from your everyday life. We spoke to Textiles Student, Ellie Byrne who is currently studying at Central St. Martins in London about life as an Art student in the UK's capital.
My university course is fairly intense, it is a 5 day course, long days and we are encouraged to often stay very late in order to complete work and work to your best ability. I have found that all in all the tutors want us to do well and are very encouraging, but it is as students we put the most pressure on ourselves (and who wouldn’t if they wanted to get the most out of their degree?). I am extremely passionate about my course and in all honesty I don’t think I ever fully switch off from what I am doing but as an artist I expect this. In my usual week I will work extremely hard in university, staying late most of those days, but once I come back to my accommodation I take that as time for myself.
As well as this I use the weekend for myself, so I go out with friends, explore London, watch movies etc, but try not to do anything art related to ensure we give ourselves down time.
Term Two Drawing Project
When it comes to the weekend me and my friends often go out for some drinks (there are some amazing apps where you can find bar’s giving out free drinks for promotions) and explore around the city.
Even though I have been there a year already there is still so much to do and see which is very exciting. I love looking around the local markets like the ones on Brick Lane and Columbia Flower Market. I really enjoy going to Hampstead Heath and swimming in the natural swimming ponds with my friends, that is a really great way to switch off from university life.
Coming back home during the holidays I am able to separate myself from the city life very well and relax with nice long walks and spending time with family, but I do continue to subconsciously think about my art work because I am so passionate.
A typical week for me is;
Monday- This day is for cultural studies lectures and seminars and we are encouraged to use the library resources and write our essays. They close the workshops on a monday to ensure we actually do this.
Tuesday - Friday- I will be in a mixture of workshops, tutorials, crits, all depending on what the project is at the time. These workshops teach you so many new techniques and encourage you to try things out for yourself and interpret them in your own ways. In the week I also use the library a lot for research. Central Saint Martins has a great environment so once I am in, I stay for the day as everything I need is right on the campus. Even down to relaxing if you feel stressed- the canteen is a great switch off and with being at Granary Square there are many little cafes and markets as well as the canal running right outside the uni for us to sit by or walk down to get to Camden.
I feel that my degree is going to hugely boost my creativity as well as encouraging me to continue to be myself and love what I do. Only one year in I have learnt and developed so many lifelong skills for my creative self as well as in everyday life. You are quickly thrown into an environment of self sufficiency and individuality where you must have the drive and confidence in yourself to achieve the best.
I have met such a huge variety of people with very different personalities and interests so have been constantly learning new social skills and developing old ones, whether it be with tutors, friends, alumni, general public etc.
Term Two Knit Final Sample
Personally as much as I have loved this past year it has been a personal struggle settling in and working in such a fast paced environment, but I am so glad for this as it has pushed me way out of my comfort zone to help me grow and develop personally as well as through my work. The opportunities given will have a huge positive impact on my work as working on live briefs as well as personal projects gives me scope to develop my own creative understanding as well as how to work for a company, giving me the best of both worlds. The environment I am living and working in has definitely brought out my style and personality, giving me the confidence and security to be exactly myself, something I try to push for many others now as there is no better feeling than being your true self.
Term Two Screen Sublimation Print Final Sample
The advice I would give is to be completely yourself and let that show through your work.
Be self driven and work hard, for yourself. At the end of the day studying Art becomes apart of you so having the confidence and drive to achieve will develop your work as well as yourself.
Absolutely love what you do. Tutors can see when you are really passionate and love your work.
Loving what you do makes your degree feel like fun and motivates you to do everything possible for that rather than finding it a hassle.
And, don’t give up! - TAKE THAT EXTRA YEAR TO DO AN ART FOUNDATION as much as you will want to go to university at the same time as all your friends, it will be so worth it.
Term Two Final Knit Sample
Currently I am researching for a project for second year called ‘Fluctuation’ where I am somehow ended up researching a lot into costumes and their textures through movement (but that’s all I will say for now). Once I get back in September I will be straight in the Print and Knit workshops ready to develop my ideas into textile pieces. Second year is going to be a further push, with more live briefs, a trip away, deciding whether to take an optional year out in industry as well as a lot of creative and personal self growth which I am unbelievably excited about!
You can keep up to date with Ellie's work via her Instagram @eltextlies