Alexandra Oliver

Alex Oliver

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

What initially drew me to Leeds was the course, I knew that I wanted to study both Fine Art and History of Art and there was only a small handful of other universities offered this, Leeds being one of the top universities to study at for Art. The opportunity to study abroad in my third year was also a big contributor, and Leeds has a huge range of places to choose from.


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

I am passionate about Art because it allows me to express myself in a creative way. At Leeds I have had the opportunity to experiment with this creativity, while at times challenging, I feel I have come out the other side more experienced and confident in my artistic style. It is also exciting to be around others who are also passionate about Art, and being able to share and exchange ideas about each other’s work is so enriching, and makes it such a great environment to be in. 


What aspects of the course did you enjoy the most?  

As a part of a final year project, we all put together a TV show that had a live audience, and a Facebook live stream so anyone could watch for 1 hour. As students we decided what the content consisted of, created Ads, acted and had control over the behind the scenes tech. It was a great experience and a fun way to bond more with our peers.

The new Fine Art building also opened during my second year, and has 24hr access to the studios which is so great – if I felt like spending all night creating art I could! I have also loved collaborating with other artists – putting on exhibitions outside of University has been so beneficial in understanding how it all works! The Fine Art department encourage this too.


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

Before coming to Leeds I didn’t know what it was like to be surrounded by people who have such eclectic interests and passions. It has been so insightful, and has really opened my eyes to see how others are inspired by and engage with their own work practices and surroundings.

I am surprised by how much I have changed since arriving; of course it is inevitable, but also interesting how you can notice the development since arriving as a nervous -  but also excited - first year, and leave a more self-assured, confident and engaged graduate.


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

Overall, the learning facilities are very good, there are lots of workshops being held for first year students to introduce you to new methods and techniques if you have never experienced them before. Having not completed an art foundation, this was very useful for my practice and allowed me to explore and experiment with more materials. It is also great that there are workshops that continue throughout the year if you want to change techniques and learn something new. You are constantly encouraged to explore new things, and while sometimes this might not be what you want to do, it is the best opportunity because you never know what might come out of it.

There is also a newsletter that the school sends out with weekly arts opportunities which is so great for informing students what is going on within the school, from professional/student exhibitions, optional lectures, arts competitions and so on…

The module selection is very engaging as well – as I study History of Art as well I found the options incredibly diverse and really enjoyed all of my modules to date. It is also great that you have the opportunity for discovery modules, which allows you to try something completely different from your course.


Did you take a work placement or study abroad year? If so, how did you find this experience and what have you gained from it?

I went on a year abroad to Toronto, and had such an amazing experience. It gave me a break from the intensive study at Leeds and allowed me to experience completely new culture, while studying in a more relaxed way. It fed my passion for nature and gained so much inspiration for my art practice when I returned to study in my final year, and also my dissertation. I met so many amazing people out there and I now know that I could live anywhere in the world if I wanted to – it gave me so much confidence.

Studying Art, I found the year incredibly beneficial for my practice. The structure of York University was completely different to Leeds, and this was such a great way to experiment with my practice without having the extra pressure of my grade counting towards my degree.  I also had the option to enrol on any course I wanted so I tried out Anthropology, Theatre Design and Production Design which was a great opportunity!


What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course?

The reason why I chose this course was because you can have the perfect balance between developing your own artistic practice and developing an understanding of theory and Art History, which is important knowledge for any practicing artist.

Leeds is a great place for art – there are always opportunities to get involved with volunteering in the arts, and putting on your own exhibitions.