Making has slowed down while the ECA Degree Show has been in full swing. Now it is time to reflect on the last two years of MFA before moving on to new pastures.
By doing the MFA course I have made many new discoveries about my working process. My work has developed quickly as a result. The things I have made have become increasingly focussed and concise as I have gained confidence, enabling me to allow the making process to lead the outcome to a greater degree. I have also honed my ability to make the appropriate decisions at the right moment in a work’s development. Though there will undoubtedly be further mistakes in the future, I am getting more accurate with practice.
For the sake of brevity I will give a quick rundown of the things I have felt have been most helpful about the course, for anyone who is thinking of undertaking further education themselves.
- coming into contact with a broad range of critical theory and academic research into subject areas that I never knew existed has helped me to contextualise my practice.
- Working with a diverse group of students has made me better able to appreciate and learn from practices that are very different to my own.
- The tutors on the course have been consistently challenging and have pushed me to be more rigorous.
- I know much more about contemporary art than I ever did before. Helping me to seek out appropriate networks to support my future work.
- I have made space in which to develop a set of strategies that will help me to support my creativity long term.
- I have got to know lots of other artists who’s practices are very diverse and sometimes challenging. It will be great to see what everyone goes on to do next.
And in order to give a balanced view of the MFA course at ECA, here are a few of the criticisms I would list about the course:
- I am not convinced that this course delivers as much support as it could for practice based students. I would like to have seen more value placed on material practice, though a core group of tutors did support me in this aspect of my work.
- It’s expensive. Current students are now paying £7800 per year in tuition fees. I would be concerned that the quality of the work produced on the course may drop as costs increase; partly because students are taking on so much paid work to make ends meet. I also wonder whether the quality of applicants coming onto the course will be seen to decrease as ‘ability to pay’ becomes prioritised over ‘quality of work’.
- ‘If you want something done, do it yourself,’ and though this has always been a formative aspect of art school education, in relation to the previous point the delivery of some practical aspects or the course will need to be improved upon, especially as tuition fees continue to rise.
- I did notice a gender imbalance. Female members of staff are predominantly theory based while male members of staff are practice based or in managerial roles. At times I have felt that this impacted upon my work. It also raises some concerns about my future employment opportunities as a female artist.
In general, a course like this really is what you make of it. Think of it as a providing a framework for you to get as much as you can out of it (and yourself).