The word ‘student’ often connotes the stereotype of a young person who sleeps, spends and drinks far too much. Students are, of course however, people of all ages. Web intern Rachel Lee chatted with Paige Bowes about being a mature student at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA).

“Sonder”, Paige explains, means; “The realisation that each random passer-by is living a life as vivid and complex as your own." Putting this into context, she explains her experience of sonder occurred during her years in the “real, adult world” before she came to study the Painting BA (Hons) programme at Edinburgh College of Art.

Growing up in Surrey, she launched herself straight into a job aged 15, before migrating to Scotland in 2013 and deciding to finally pursue her love of making art. “When I began to realise that society seems to undervalue creativity I decided I wanted to find a way to help change this, or at least a way to be creative in my own life.”

Paige Bowes, 2+2=6 O'clock, 2017. Acrylic and Ink on board
Image courtesy of the artist
Paige Bowes, 2+2=6 O'clock, 2017. Acrylic and Ink on board
Paige Bowes, I love you by the moon, 2017. Ink on Paper.
Image courtesy of the artist
Paige Bowes, I love you by the moon, 2017. Ink on Paper.

Her accumulation of life experience is often advantageous to her time at ECA. Not only does Paige believe it helps her stay organised with her deadlines, juggling a busy social life and a job – it also helps her connect and communicate with ECA staff and students. Being in a class that is mostly 18-21 year olds – Paige uses her maturity and comfortability in herself to guide some of her classmates in finding their footing as young adults. “I have often felt like I have been able to help others cope a little better with some of the stresses of adolescence; which is very rewarding.”

Paige’s years working the daily grind can be seen to have influenced her art. Her paintings, dystopian in nature, appear to come from the mind of Orwell.  For example, her painting ‘2 + 2 = 6 O’ Clock’ perfectly emulates the reality of hard labour, zero-hour contacts that are becoming worryingly commonplace in society. “I appreciate an aesthetically pleasing visual with a meaningful - political or social - concept embodied within it.”

As a surrealist artist, she pulls inspiration from everything around her – although literature and films are the main stimulus for her paintings.  From novels such as ‘1984’ and ‘Childhood's End’ to films like ‘Brazil’ and ‘Blade Runner’ – the theme of a dystopian society is ever-present, and arguably, never more relevant. Interestingly, a source of her inspiration can come in the form of psychological and sociological papers, as well as newspaper articles. MC Escher’s influence can be seen in her work - whom she credits as her main painting inspiration, adding, “I have also found a lot of relevance in the “genre” of surrealism and the beliefs on which it was founded.”

Clearly enjoying her studies at ECA; Paige would encourage anyone of any age who are considering studying their passion to go for it – and assures the positives outweigh the negatives of being a mature student.


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