Programme: Fine Art - MA (Hons)

Year: 2016

A lot has happened since Douglas Stevens left Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) with a Fine Art - MA (Hons) in 2016. A move to Norway, a return to Edinburgh to take part in a major exhibition and a journey north to a farm in Perthshire where he is currently turning a derelict barn into a studio.

Tell us about your time at ECA

I chose to study the Fine Art - MA (Hons) programme because of the mix of practical studio-based work alongside the more academic History of Art based studies. The combination of both was tough at times and I know I suffered more than one crisis in attempting to balance the two! In time, however, I’ve really seen the benefit of studying both aspects, especially when applying for jobs.

I loved many things about the ECA environment and became involved in various ways to try to foster and harness the positive spirit and creativity that I saw around me. One way that we aimed to connect the different subject areas within the art college was by reviving ECA’s student zine The Wee Red Herring Magazine, along with fellow ECA graduate Troy Holmes. Another way was working towards the establishment of the student-run social space next to the canteen.

During one of my summers, I worked as an Exhibitions Intern with the University’s Centre for Research Collections (CRC), which was a really valuable and eye-opening experience. During the 8 weeks, I worked with CRC staff to design, develop, and curate an exhibition for public display all of which provided me with some great experiences and useful skills. Delving into the depths of the Old Medical College to discover the Anatomy Collection was a particular highlight and then displaying those items alongside rare books and artworks within the exhibition itself was exciting.

"I chose to study the Fine Art - MA (Hons) programme because of the mix of practical studio-based work alongside the more academic History of Art based studies... I’ve really seen the benefit of studying both aspects, especially when applying for jobs."

Douglas Stevens, 2016 Fine Art - MA (Hons) graduate

Tell us about your experiences since leaving

It feels like a lot has happened since leaving ECA; I upped and left to work for a charity in Norway, moved back to Edinburgh, participated in RSA: New Contemporaries 2017, moved to a farm near Perth and have worked odd jobs along the way. Now I’m job hunting again and in the meantime have been clearing out a derelict barn to turn into a studio/workshop. It’s safe to say that it’s been a rather unsettled time for me and one that has required a fair amount of flexibility and willingness to try new things. Yet I’ve felt quite well prepared for it all thanks in part to lessons learnt in Sculpture. Learning to be adaptable, resourceful and determined have all proven useful skills since leaving ECA and they’re skills that I’m sure I’ll continue to need going forward.

I’ve not had as much time or opportunity to focus on making new art as I hoped I might but I’ve found that other outlets for creativity have emerged along the way. Whether it’s been through projects at work, moving to and making a new home, or giving new life to an old barn, these tasks have all employed a lot of the same mental and creative capacities as art-making. Looking ahead, I would like to start making my own art again and am excited to find out what local creative opportunities exist in the Perthshire area.

Condition Report (2017) installed at RSA: New Contemporaries 2017 at The Royal Scottish Academy
Image by Douglas McCaffery
Condition Report (2017) installed at RSA: New Contemporaries 2017
Condition Report (2017) installed at RSA: New Contemporaries 2017
Image by Douglas McCaffery
Condition Report (2017) installed at RSA: New Contemporaries 2017

Alumni wisdom

Get to know people in other areas of ECA. One of the most rewarding and satisfying parts of being at ECA was acting as a School-wide representative whereby it was crucial to look beyond just your own discipline and try and see how all the different subject areas fit together.

Talk to people from all subjects of ECA as you’ll all be facing more or less the same challenges, will probably end up attending the same events anyway (e.g. The Revel) and you will also inevitably help one another to see and learn more about your respective creative areas, which can prove surprisingly useful in the future.


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