Inspired to create – new artworks exhibition

Our MA Creative Practice students are preparing to share some impressive new work with the public.

Paintings, sculptures, ceramics, printmaking, textiles and more will go on show when we welcome visitors to our North Yorkshire Open Studios (NYOS) exhibition in June.

Running over two weekends, the event will be a chance for people to view and purchase pieces by a diverse collection of artists. Our current MA Creative Practice students are a diverse group of learners who have enjoyed careers in everything from the armed forces to psychotherapy and teaching.

For some, such as landscape artist Andrew Stratford – who suffered a debilitating stroke in 2021, as he describes at  – taking on the Master’s degree has been a form of rehabilitation.

‘Never too late to embrace creativity’

For others like art psychotherapist Anthea Hendry, who is in her late seventies, it has been a way to really explore her artistic side in later life.

She said: “I was uncertain when I finally made space in my life to apply to do a Creative Practice MA in 2022. Had I left it too late?

“Now, having completed the first few terms, I have no doubts that I made the right decision. It’s never too late to follow a path to a lifelong belief in the power of creativity, to explore what it means to be human.”

Fellow student Melanie Benn, meanwhile, is a ceramicist whose recent creations – inspired by the course – have included paper clay versions of Prototaxites: tree trunk-like, ancient fungi.

The NYOS exhibition’s first weekend takes place on Saturday June 3 and Sunday 4, while the second is on Saturday June 10 and Sunday June 11. Viewing will be available from 10am to 5pm on all days.

A chance to see some outstanding work

Programme manager in MA Creative Practice, Dr Annabel Smith, said: “Our MA students come from all walks of life and are often retiring or looking at switching direction and wanting to build on previous artist practice.

“This degree offers them a great way to change pathways and perhaps launch a new career, or just focus totally on their creative practice.

“The overriding motivation seems to be to grasp the chance of a new start by setting off in a really creative direction.

“The students consistently impress us by the quality of the art they produce, across so many mediums – and we can’t wait for the public to come and see some of their outstanding work at this exhibition.”

Discover your inner artist at Harrogate College

Our Art courses are so good that established artists have been signing up with us to hone their skills.

Three local artists, Tom Ransom, Irene Vassiliou and Douglas Thompson, recently achieved their MA Creative Practice degrees at the college.

Another respected local artist, Catt van Leijen, is currently halfway through the two-year, part-time programme and is urging others to embark on the same creative journey.

A rewarding creative journey

She said: “The MA in Creative Practice will take you on an unexpected path of discovery.

“This course at Harrogate College is a great opportunity to explore your creative self on another level.”

Catt, who is a ceramic  and paper mache  tutor at local charity, Henshaws Arts and Crafts Centre, hit the headlines recently through the ambitious collaborative project she did for her course.

Teaming up with the National Trust and Art Maker students at Henshaw’s Arts and Crafts Centre, Catt oversaw the creation of all kinds of nature-inspired artworks. Those were then installed in and around Fountains Abbey’s water garden and stream, to the delight of visitors.

Confidence-building support

Douglas, meanwhile, who also teaches at Henshaws and specialises in paper cutting, also thoroughly enjoyed his time with the college.

Speaking just after receiving his degree, he said: “I really loved the course. All of my tutors’ support has boosted my self-confidence so much, and created a rigour in my practice that wasn’t there before.”

While the MA Creative Practice degree caters for those who have already begun their artistic journey, and want to specialise, the college also offers a range of courses for others at different levels.

A liberating alternative to school

Those include short, part-time introductory courses like Arts, Crafts and Design along with full-time programmes for school leavers, such as Art and Design Level 2 and Creative Practice (Art & Design) level 3 Extended Diploma.

Level 3 course lead for FE Art & Design at Harrogate College, Jonathan Leng, said: “We offer an exciting learning experience here, in level 2 and level 3 art and design, for 16 to 18 year olds.

“We continue to have outstanding success, in fact amongst the highest in the country, on our Level 3 course – with more than 40% of our students gaining a distinction (three A*s at A level) last year. We are able to do this by offering each of our students individualised learning and the chance to work with practising artists and highly skilled technicians.

“Our students recognise that this approach gives them the freedom to explore and develop their skills and be the individual that school, perhaps, does not allow. As the new academic year begins we look forward to welcoming lots more aspiring artists!”

Enrolment for this year’s art classes is underway now and there is still time to apply. Click here to find out more.