Edinburgh has a worldwide reputation for being an international city. In this short article, Eva Cameron Coutts - web team intern at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) - talks to Noelia Garcia about coming to ECA from Spain to undertake a ten week Erasmus+ jewellery residency in the School of Design.

People flock to Edinburgh from all over the world, drawn by the historic architecture, gothic streets and vibrant arts scene. Noelia Garcia, an artist in every sense of the word, is one of the hundreds who was inspired by the idea of studying in Scotland’s capital and so she boldly applied, having never set foot on Scottish soil.

Noelia studied fine arts - ‘not finance!’ - she chuckled, as she sat in a top floor studio at ECA, light flooding onto her sketchbooks and the majestic Edinburgh skyline visible at every turn.

Though she did her undergraduate degree in Valencia, Noelia has spent 11 years teaching drawing in Murcia, Eastern Spain. As well as teaching, she studies jewellery at the small university there.

“There are only six disciplines” she tells me. “Illustration, animation, architectural model making, jewellery, graphics and sculpture. It’s much more common to go to Barcelona, Madrid or Valencia to study Jewellery, but I stayed here.”

Whilst she loves the city she lives in, she was lured by the charm of Edinburgh that she’d seen in films and photographs. “The language, the Celtic history. There’s an ancient culture like nowhere else in the UK”.

Noelia applied to do an Erasmus+ residency, proposing a project which outlined what she would bring to the School of Design and how she too would benefit. Improving her English was one thing on the list which, after her ten week stay, she has certainly fulfilled!

Noelia’s application obviously impressed the Programme heads and she was invited to come during the Autumn semester.

So how did it live up to expectations when she arrived?

“I had seen Sunshine On Leith, I didn’t know it was a real place. I thought ‘they must have filmed it in many cities’. How could one place have the hills, the sea, the gothic buildings. Is it possible? Does it exist? It’s just amazing. Everything is here.”

Not just the city, but ECA itself proved to impress Noelia and her expectations.

“It is similar to home in ways, but here there are more facilities and a bigger focus on design. It’s more practical too with extra contact hours. At home we only have seven hours a week. Here the studio environment is so much more flexible and free.”

Noelia was able to bring the things that inspired her from previous projects and incorporate them into her studies here.

“At home I did a project where I mixed disciplines. Here, we have a period with Product Design. This cross-over of departments is really cool. It works because you are all coming to a new discipline for the first time so it’s a good way to learn new experiences. Ours skills are exchangeable. We need them, they need us.”

Eva Cameron Coutts will be writing for the ECA web team for the remainder of the academic year. She is currently in her fourth year at Edinburgh Napier University studying Journalism. 

Are you interested in studying in the School of Design at Edinburgh College of Art?

We offer ten undergraduate programmes and 14 postgraduate programmes, including a BA (Hons) in Jewellery and Silversmithing and an MFA in Jewellery. Erasmus+ is open to students enrolled in a programme at another institution and is supported through the Visiting Student Office at The University of Edinburgh.