Imogen standing in Leeds Art Gallery

Imogen Dunkley

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

I have just finished my second year of a BA in Fine Art with Contemporary Cultural Theory. I’m from a small village near Milton Keynes and completed a foundation year in Fine Art in Bristol before beginning my studies in Leeds.

Why did you choose to study your particular course and why did you choose the University of Leeds?

I chose my course because of the depth and breadth it offers in terms of module choices, particularly the theoretical ones. It covers everything I am interested in – art, film, culture, politics, sociology etc. - and challenges me to feed these themes into my art. When I first visited the campus of Leeds, I knew I wanted to study there just based on how welcome I felt when I visited the grounds and the school. I also knew that the education that I would receive would be of a high calibre because of the reputation of the university as an institution. Finally, I really love the city of Leeds and its vibrant student and arts community.

What has been the best aspect of your course so far?

The best aspect has been the social side. I have made so many friends that I would consider to be life-long just through the studio spaces and because of the collaborative nature of the course. Even during my first year in COVID, I was able to find friends easily because of having to undertake group projects, which made a very tough year a lot more bearable.

Can you tell us about some of the exciting projects you have completed as part of your degree?

Curating two exhibitions in my second year. We had to create the groups and concepts, source the space, liaise with industry professionals and market the shows all by ourselves. This provided invaluable experience of what being a professional artist entails as well as giving us the opportunity to take up responsibilities outside of the university bubble.

Have you worked closely with a particular tutor or member or the University’s academic staff? Tell us about that experience.

When deciding my dissertation topic, I contacted multiple tutors that had taught me. Dr. Claudia Stenberg, who is the Programme Manager for Cultural and Media Studies was particularly helpful in assisting me and giving me advice on how to approach qualitative research as it is something I have never done before. My reason for approaching her was because of the support I received from her throughout my first and second year when I was really struggling with essay work and my mental health.

What activities outside of your studies were you involved in?

I joined the Film society, who show films twice a week in the SU and was also a part of Art Soc who organise life drawing sessions every Tuesday. In my third year I am planning to join the kickboxing society.

What would you say to students thinking about studying your course?

Prepare to be academically challenged, and make sure to properly organise your time between studio and theory work. It is very easy to prioritise essays over artwork because of the independent nature of the studio module, so self-discipline is a vital skill. Do not let this scare you off though - embrace this freedom and use it as an opportunity to be proactive in reaching out to tutors and peers to create the artwork and writing that you want to do.

What does Leeds as a city have to offer students?

An extremely varied and exciting nightlife, not just in regard to student night outs but also in terms of the range of music venues such as Brudenell Social club, Hyde Park Book club and the SU. Leeds also has a vibrant jazz scene with Book club and Domino hosting many events. There are also multiple shops, cafes, and study areas within the city centre, as well as the Leeds city art gallery and the Henry Moore institute.

What do you plan to do once you graduate?

I plan to further my study with a Masters in either Leeds or London. I am planning to stay in Leeds for at least a year or two after I graduate, regardless of where I study my postgraduate, to make the most of my time in the city. Ideally, I would like to work within the arts/music events industry after I am finished with my studies.

What experiences at Leeds do you think have particularly helped with your career? (Or what experiences at Leeds do you think will help in securing a graduate role following graduation?)

I think the free rein I was given in choosing my dissertation topic has been greatly beneficial, as I was able to choose a research area that is in direct relation to the career that I would like to pursue after university, which is arts events management. Through this research project I will have the opportunity to make professional contacts within the events industry.