Degree success for local artists

27 July, 2022 10:06 am

A trio of artists from Harrogate College are celebrating achieving their MA Creative Practice degrees.

For Tom Ransom, Irene Vassiliou and Douglas Thompson receiving their degree certificates in July marked the successful conclusion of a two-year creative journey.

They are now looking forward to putting their honed artistic talents to good use – and full of praise for the college and their tutors.

Pandemic support and new horizons

Not Sun Nor Swell, by Douglas Thompson
Not Sun Nor Swell, by Douglas Thompson

Douglas Thompson, who specialises in paper cutting, said: “I really loved the course. Programme manager Annabel Smith was so supportive throughout the pandemic, providing zoom sessions.

“All of my tutors’ support has boosted my self-confidence so much and created a rigour in my practice that wasn’t there before.

“I work four days a week for Henshaws Arts and Crafts Centre and the degree has improved the standards of my practice with differently-able artists there. Several of the staff from the centre have now also joined the programme as a result.

“At the end of my degree I was accepted into the UK Creative Communities Fellows programme and am off to the US this year, on a retreat funded by the Arts Council.

“I have also joined the Knaresborough arts festival (FEVA) committee to help programme arts events for this summer’s festival, and have an exhibition at the Black Mulberry cafe in August.”

Douglas will also be holding a number of paper cutting workshops this year, and producing commissioned work for various arts organisations including Harrogate Theatre.

Dramatic skills improvements

Boat of Peas, by Irene Vassiliou

Irene saw her photographic skills – which she uses to shine a light on the issue of food waste – improve dramatically during the course.

She said: “Looking back, my skills as a photographer have improved so much, especially in my studio work which I had done very little of before.

“Looking forward, I have been applying for photography jobs and have been in contact with a community centre who are looking to put up some of my images on food waste.”

The Covid-19 restrictions created extra study challenges for Irene, just as she was beginning to focus on strengthening her studio and video work. 

She ended up having to build a studio at home, but says regular phone and online contact from her tutors was ‘a great help’ and enabled her to produce top-quality work.

Tom, meanwhile, is a painter who also works with printmaking, and studied Fine Art at Harrogate College before going on to do his MA.

It is one of his works, Knaresborough Viaduct from the Riverbank, that is the main image attached to this article.

He said: “The MA helped me to broaden my creative horizons and push my practice forward to the next level. I was encouraged to experiment with a range of mediums and to search for a deeper contextual understanding.

“After completing my degree I felt ready to pursue a career as a practising artist, which continues to this day.

“I am also due to start a PGCE in September which will enable me to pursue my dream of becoming a teacher.”

A showcase for fellow artists

The creations of three other artists who have completed the MA Creative Practice course, meanwhile, will go on show in Harrogate from Thursday 28 July.

Works by Claire West, Lisa Lundqvist, Clare Paul will be exhibited at St Peter’s Church, on Cambridge Road, under the title of Masters Art Exhibition.

An invite-only preview will take place from 6pm to 8pm on Thursday 28 July; after that the works will be on show at the venue, between 10am and 4pm, from Friday 29 July to Sunday 31 July.