Students from Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) and around the wider university signed up to the first run of a new elective course, The Model – Making & Meaning, this semester. The teaching has featured theoretical and practical elements, including lectures, visits to museums, collections and set designers, independent research, and studio-based classes.

The course, which aimed to be accessible to all students, regardless of whether or not they have learned in an art school environment before, was initiated by Charlie Stiven (Painting – BA [Hons] Programme Director) and John Brown (Painting Lecturer).

“For the art students, it could be close to some of the things they’re doing in other projects, which might be quite good to bring things together,” said John, “For other students, maybe studying anatomy or medicine, it may bring some other way of analysing to what they’re doing.”

“Constructing small-scale, 3D models […] is a big part of our research, so it comes directly from our own interests,” said Charlie, “There’s a direct tie-in between staff research and teaching content.”

Early assignments included attempting to replicate an object in model form as precisely as possible, followed by producing something at either a much larger or smaller scale than the original object.

“The discipline and thought required in examining that thing and then how to make it, [is] quite deep,” Charlie said, “Part of the hope is that, beyond making artwork, that kind of experience is transcendental, so that then they can take that level of thinking and apply it to anything. They can apply it to any kind of academic study, or they can apply it in a wider sense.”

Lauren Andrews, a 4th year Arts and Business student at University of Auckland, is currently studying at University of Edinburgh for a semester. She is interested in theatre and set design, and decided to take the elective course while she was here.

“I was really drawn to the idea of making things with my hands,” said Lauren, “It’s a focussed environment, where you’re working alongside really talented students who have a lot of ideas that can feed into your own work, and also alongside talented teachers who have a lot of practical knowledge of the work we’re doing.”

Rajwa Merca, who is in her 1st year studying Biological Sciences at Edinburgh, wanted to take the course because of her interest in painting and drawing, and thought it was an opportunity to try something new. “It’s a really non-judgemental environment, which gives me a lot of freedom to do whatever I want, artistically,” she said.

Work from the first The Model – Making & Meaning course will form an exhibition to be held in the Sculpture Court at Edinburgh College of Art in February 2017.