Programme: Contemporary Art Practice - MFA

Year: 2017

Previously a printmaker, Daniel Cook discovered that film was his passion during his time at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA). Daniel's Master's short The King and I enjoyed award success on the film festival circuit and his new moving image project 'Glasshouse' was recently exhibited at the Embassy Gallery.

Tell us about your time at ECA

My time spent at ECA was an opportunity to develop my artwork, experiment with different media and to try out new ideas. Before joining the programme I had specialised in printmaking, but it gave me the impetus to discover what I really wanted to do, which is film.

As I am from and grew up in Edinburgh, leaving to study at Duncan of Jordanstone College in Dundee, I was initially a bit ambivalent about returning to live in Edinburgh again. However, to my surprise, I found living back in Edinburgh and studying at ECA had a very international flavour and I made great friendships with other artists from all over the world.

Talbot Rice Gallery's 'Interim' show featuring work by students from the MFA/MA Contemporary Art Practice programme was a highlight for me; I enjoyed the professional aspect of collaborating with the Gallery and getting to know the staff. It was a special opportunity to exhibit in such impressive surroundings and the support provided by the staff was beyond expectation. The professionalism on the programme was an important aspect of setting yourself up afterwards as an independent artist.

I thoroughly enjoyed the two years at ECA. I was warmly welcomed by the tutors and I really valued the time I spent in the open plan studios, building relationships with people I still collaborate with today. Two of my friends from the programme opened Suede Gallery in their shared studio and flat in Bruntsfield, which has continued to be a success over a year on. I did a show with them and have continued helping them out at exhibitions and openings. This has given me a taste for exhibiting work outside the college structure.

Daniel Cook's Reel 17
© 2017 Daniel Cook All Rights Reserved. Music by Trembler - Lit

"I thoroughly enjoyed the two years at ECA. I was warmly welcomed by the tutors and I really valued the time I spent in the open plan studios, building relationships with people I still collaborate with today."

Daniel Cook, MFA - Contemporary Art Practice alumnus

Tell us about your experiences since leaving ECA

Since leaving ECA I have screened and promoted my Master's project, The King and I, at various film festivals. The King and I won the 2017 John Watson Prize (Scottish National Gallery), The Helen A. Bequest Award (University of Edinburgh, 2017), The Talbot Rice Acquisitions Award (University of Edinburgh, 2017), Award of Recognition: Documentary Short (Indie Fest Film Awards, California, 2017), the Hilton Earl Memorial Award (Glasgow Short Film Festival, 2018) and the Hidden Door Festival Jury Prize (2018). Recently I exhibited my newest project, Glassmount, in a solo show at Edinburgh's Embassy Gallery.

Alongside my own artistic practice, I have been busy filming and editing for other artists. This has provided a good platform for networking across Edinburgh and Glasgow. Amongst others, I have been working with performing artists, Stasis and Adam Castle which I have greatly enjoyed. I met the performance group Stasis through Nautilus Rising, a Glasgow-based music label, and we created a music video which went on to be featured in the online magazine Nowness. This work has led to other commissions and I am currently working with a Dundee producer on a new music video to be released later in the summer.

Stills from Dan Cook's 'Glassmount' (2018)
Stills courtesy of the artist
Stills from Dan Cook's 'Glassmount' (2018)
Stills from Dan Cook's 'Glassmount' (2018)
Stills courtesy of the artist
Stills from Dan Cook's 'Glassmount' (2018)

Alumni wisdom

Be open to working and sharing ideas with other students - you will be surprised at the results. Experiment and be flexible in your approach and accept that during the programme your work will drastically change over any given semester.

Do not be tempted to disregard your own work, it is easy to lose objectivity. Persevere, network, and learn how to best to promote your work online.

Allow yourself time to plan a project and ensure that there is sufficient time to meet a tight deadline. Always do a trial run before shooting the real thing. Keep your options open and be ready to change your ideas and perceptions. Remember, the easiest route is not always the best one.


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