Celestine from Korea, PhD in Fine Art
Studying: PhD in Fine Art at the University of Reading
Why did you choose a UK qualification?
‘I wanted to obtain advanced knowledge and develop professional techniques as an artist and a researcher. Therefore, I decided to get myself trained in the UK. There are a large number of artists, galleries and museums here, and there is diversity in terms of cultures.
‘Also, among English-speaking countries, only the UK has a broad range of PhD courses for Fine Art and developed systems for artists, such as art competitions, artist residency programmes and conferences. I think studying in the UK helps me get new perspectives and knowledge of art.’
What do you find most inspiring about your degree and institution?
‘My university has good curriculums and support for PhD students. I regularly meet my supervisor and fellow PhD students in seminars, workshops, colloquiums and symposiums. Under the tutelage of competent professors and tutors, I am studying and working with excellent fellow students in my studio at the university, and the relationship and feedback from them encourage me in studying art theory and creating my own works of art.’
Where it all begins: Celestine's studio at university (Photo ©Celestine Kim)
Want to study art or design in the UK?
Has your perception of Fine Art as a subject changed since you started your studies?
‘Before my degree course, what I valued most was showing my art to viewers as a visual artist. I considered the visibility of artwork more than
the conceptualisation in art theory. However, through my ongoing studies,
I have put more weight on the importance of the theoretical concepts.
'The ultimate aim of my research and practice is to address, identify and justify my artwork in the field of contemporary art.’
What is your course like, and what do you like about your university’s teaching methods?
‘For the PhD of Fine Art course, there is no class. I have to manage my research by myself. Generally, I hand in one essay to my supervisor in a semester, and receive feedback about the essay and my practice works from the supervisor at the end of the semester.
‘During each semester, I also take part in group sessions with other PhD students of Fine Art and Art History. I regularly meet my fellow students in group meetings, and exchange opinions about our own research and theories. In addition, I share a studio with other PhD students, and frequently have discussions with them about our practice works.
‘All in all, my research and practice in the university is well organised by the tutoring system and the group research activities.’
Celestine shares a multicultural Christmas meal with her fellow PhD students (Photo ©Celestine Kim)
What does being ‘creative’ mean to you?
‘In my opinion, "creative" comes from fresh and original ideas. There is no absolute pure creation, but creative minds make different and new perspectives towards art. In that way, I believe there are many possibilities of broadening the territory of contemporary art.’
What advice would you give to future students applying to your course?
‘As an international student who is not a native English speaker, it is very important to obtain a decent level of English language skills before starting a degree course. Without a full understanding of English, it is difficult to communicate with tutors and fellow students. I think art is another form of human language and materialising artworks is important, but if someone wants to get a higher degree in the UK, they should be able to deliver their opinions in English and professionally analyse their own work.’
Celestine with a friend and a group of British bears! (Photo ©Celestine Kim)
What’s your number one memory of your time as a student in the UK?
‘During my first presentation in a PhD colloquium, I found it challenging to deliver academically my concept and my opinion to other students. However, my PhD colleagues gave me encouraging and useful feedback, which helped me improve my research and presentation skills.’
What are your ambitions for the future?
‘I would like to keep researching and creating art through experiencing different cultures! I hope to broaden my perspectives, continue accumulating knowledge in art and guide future students in art.’