Programme: Painting - BA (Hons)

Year: 2014

After working for 15 years in public policy, Deirdre Macleod returned to art gradually; first through Centre for Open Learning evening classes, then as a part-time Combined Studies student and finally joining the full-time Painting BA (Hons). Since graduating in 2014, Deirdre has exhibited in China and held a solo show in Edinburgh last year.

Tell us about your time at Edinburgh College of Art

Going to Art College was something that I’d always wanted to do, but I ended up taking a different career path first. I worked in public policy development for 15 years before coming back to art via evening classes run by ECA and, for a few years, developed my confidence and skills through a variety of art and design classes. I applied to study on the part-time Combined Studies programme and, later, joined the full-time Painting programme, graduating in 2014.

Tell us about your creative practice

I use drawing to explore my experience of cities, particularly the urban, built environment. At the moment, I use a variety of traditional, technical and digital methods of drawing to make large-scale, semi-abstract pencil drawings, acrylic wall drawings and smaller 3D constructions. My starting point is usually the steel construction frames and scaffolding found on the many building sites in Edinburgh. 

I’ve always been interested in cities: how they work, how they look, and how it feels to live in them. When I left school, I studied Geography and was particularly interested in urban social geography. I think drawing enables me to explore aspects of the city in a way that is personal to me.

Deirdre MacLeod at Drawing on Drawing

I loved being at Art College. The evening classes gave me an essential foundation in art and design, and the chance to try out design subjects as well as drawing and painting. The full-time programme gave me the time, space and support to develop and pursue my own interests.

2014 BA (Hons) Painting graduate Deirdre MacLeod

What did you like about ECA?

I loved being at Art College. The evening classes (now run by the Centre for Open Learning at the University) gave me an essential foundation in art and design, and the chance to try out design subjects as well as drawing and painting. The full-time programme gave me the time, space and support to develop and pursue my own interests.

In our third year, the School of Art offered students the chance to work on art-related projects with external organisations and other parts of the University. I worked on a mini-residency with the Department of Psychiatry and created work for an exhibition at the Anne Rowling Clinic for Regenerative Neurology. These projects taught me some of the skills I now use as an artist. They were really enjoyable projects, too.

Tell us about your Experiences since leaving ECA

Since graduating, I’ve been working full-time as an artist. I’ve been involved in a number of group shows in Scotland, and I showed work last year in Shenzhen, China as part of a City of Edinburgh showcase. I also held a solo show in Edinburgh in autumn last year. I’ve been lucky to receive funding awards from the Hope Scott Trust and the Gane Trust. These awards have really helped me to sustain my practice and keep going in what can sometimes feel like a difficult world to work in.

Alumni wisdom

Working as a professional artist takes perseverance and patience.

To anyone who feels like they left art behind at school and regrets it - go for it! There are lots of routes back into learning these days: have a look at the art and design classes run by the University’s Centre for Open Learning. They’re a great way of getting back to making art.


Are you interested in studying Painting - BA (Hons) at Edinburgh College of Art?