Portrait of Abigail Egwunyenga

Abigail Egwunyenga

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

I am an international Nigerian student studying art and design. I was born and brought up in Nigeria and I am the only child of my parents. I have always had a flare for everything art or design. I am a big fan of award winning writer Wole Soyinka who was an alumni of Leeds University. As an Art and Design student, I would say I am an all-rounder, producing work ranging from painting, digital art and presently sculpture while still referencing my Igbo Nigerian Heritage and Nigerian politics.

What made you want to apply to your course and to Leeds?

Being a huge fan of Wole Soyinka and an admirer of his achievements, I had always wanted to have a similar background with the noble peace prize winner. I had decided that attending his university was something I had to put on my bucket list.  On my quest to achieve my dream of being a part of the design industry I had stumbled upon the Art and Design course at the University while I was on the International Foundation year program. 

I had discovered on observation that the course incorporated different aspect of design while still allowing students to express their artistic styles. I also appreciated the fact that there was a good balance of academia and design in the form of a research and analysis file that allowed students to not only develop their research and employability skills but also nurture the habit of documentation. Furthermore, I was totally impressed with the diverse environment the School of Design offered its students. As an art and design student, you had access to so much from the laser cutter, print studios, the workshops and students of other design backgrounds that could give room for collaborations. 

What is it that makes you passionate about your area of study?

Personally, I feel the freedom of expression coupled with the intellect of design is what keeps me going. I no longer see going to the studio to produce work as just something I have to do to get credit, but something I enjoy doing. I love the fact that I can take an idea from the patterns and culture module and integrate what I was taught into my design and artistic reality in the studio. Apart from that, when I come into the creative space here in the School of Design, I feel at home. The friends you make from different parts of the world, your course mates that have grown with you just tend to encourage you and keep you going.    

What aspects of the course did you enjoy the most?  

The best part about this course to me is making. I mean actually and physically applying what you've been taught from a lecture to what you want it to be for you. 

Another aspect I enjoyed is the freedom you have in making. I love the sense of independence I get when given briefs. I love the fact that there is also diversity in works produced in Art and Design itself. For example; we have people interested in painting, textile, film or video, sculpture and sometimes some people who are interested in all at once. Above all, I appreciate the level of togetherness the studio space has to offer from the tutors to course mates and people from other year groups.

What has been the most surprising thing about coming to Leeds?

I think how much I have grown, how much I have learnt and the people I have met. I was on the plane from Nigeria, coming to the University of Leeds at the age of 16, left alone in this big city. I mean sure I was in boarding school but this was totally different. I didn't only have to leave my family, I had to live my country and spend the next 4 years of my life in a city within the UK that I had never been to or dreamt I would be in my entire life. 

Looking back now, I think the most surprising thing for me about coming to Leeds is realising how strong I am and the example I have given myself to pursue whatever I wanted to achieve in the near future.  

What would you say about the learning facilities in your School and at the University in general?

The University is a research based university, so I wasn't surprised at all with the high-end facilities that were available. Coming to the University every year, I felt like a fresher, because something new was always being added to cater to the needs of both students and staff. From the library upgrades to the amazing union that was recently renovated to be even much more amazing, and the lecture theatres.
The School of Design try their best to have the facilities available for students to create their art and design pieces from the laser cutter, the studio, the printing facilities, the workshop and Adobe creative suits in the clusters which are all amazing, and to think it was renovated yet again making for even better student experience. The University of Leeds is really up to date with their facilities.

What other activities are available for students to take part in outside of their studies, and which ones have you tried out yourself?

As you know, all work and no play makes Jack or Jill dull individuals. And although the University of Leeds is known for its academic excellence, students here do have a very active social life. There are so many societies that one could choose from. This includes; the sports societies, religious societies, music societies, art societies and so much more. For me I was very much attached to the Nigerian Student societies where I took part in different social activities. Being a Catholic Christian, I was also involved with the Catholic student society. Fruity night club is another fun Friday night activity that I think every student in the university has taken part in.