Meet Bethanie Willis who graduated during the pandemic and has set her sights on widening her creative experience.
|Current job role||Artist|
|Year of graduation||2020|
|Course of study||BA(Hons) Fine Art|
We caught up with 2020 fine art graduate Bethanie to find out about her studies, graduating during lockdown and her plans for the future.
What did you study at Herts and why?
I studied fine art at the University of Hertfordshire, coming from a foundation degree at Hertford Regional college. During my A-Levels and time at college studying art, it really became clear that studying fine art at university was definitely the way to go for me. I love the process just as much as ‘final results’ and I was given the opportunity to fully explore any avenue during my degree at Herts.
What was the best part of your studies?
The amazing students and tutors that I connected with really moulded my experience at Herts. They gave me the encouragement to have confidence in my artistic decisions, to say 'no' when my instinct tells me to, yet to be constantly inquisitive and open to ideas. I know that the tutors who taught me these valuable lessons will continue to support me as I progress through my artistic career.
What was it like finishing university during the pandemic?
It felt surreal that I was finishing my degree from my bedroom rather than my university studio. For the past three years, I had become accustomed to having so much space, an endless supply of tools and being surrounded by likeminded people. It was definitely hard to come to terms with this change at first and even as the weeks went by but once I became used to working in this new way, I really enjoyed the process and results.
Like many, I was forced to change the way I worked completely through lockdown. I went from producing large scale installations to creating new ‘environments’ on digital programmes I had never used before. Although it was disappointing not seeing some of my previous plans come to life, it was exciting and rewarding to explore this new avenue for my work. A pathway that otherwise would not have been taken.
What plans did you have for your future and how have they changed because of COVID-19?
Admittedly, before COVID-19 I was still undecided about where I was heading after finishing my degree. I was looking into various postgraduate courses and continued to do so during lockdown.
Due to personal reasons I decided not to enrol on a postgrad course just yet, and in the past few months I have been keeping up my creative part-time job, home-schooling siblings, and researching opportunities for the months ahead.
What did you think when you found out the University had chosen one of your pieces for their art collection?
I was thrilled when I was told about the University’s interest in acquiring one of my pieces! Even more so as the work in question was inspired by the architecture of the car park under the University's fine art studios.
The piece ‘Car Park’ is a nod to the structural elements of the space that intrigued me, a construction that allows the viewer to experience the collaboration between the environment and the sculpture. So, it felt fitting that the piece would stay on campus.
What plans do you have for the future?
As we progress back to ‘normality’ I am hoping to grasp as many opportunities as I can. I am currently interested in curation, so I am looking into possibilities of experience/placements in this area to see if this is a path that I want to explore further.
I would also like to complete a postgraduate degree in the near future. Whether that's in fine art or a course tailored more to a specific field, I am still undecided. However, I hope that the decision becomes clearer for me as I continue to gather experience in several creative areas.
Do you have a message for your fellow 2020 graduates?
I am proud of what we have achieved as the class of 2020 during the pandemic. We have had to change and adapt our usual ways of working and I think we have done this particularly well. I look forward to seeing what paths we all progress onto as we begin our careers.