Kittie Jones came to Edinburgh because she was thrilled with the idea of spending five years learning about the things she loved.
MA Fine Art (Edinburgh University and Edinburgh College of Art)
|Year of Graduation||
Your time at the University
I originally came to Edinburgh to study on the Foundation Course at Leith School of Art. It was there that I discovered the existence of a Fine Art Course at Edinburgh University and Edinburgh College of Art. It appealed to me as I enjoyed the academic aspect of learning alongside the more creative, visual approach. I also liked the idea of spending five years studying, I figured the more time learning about the things I loved the better. The course was hectic and exhilarating, it was like leading two separate lives. Mornings might be spent sitting in lectures and participating in seminars at George Square, afternoons would take place in the main building at Edinburgh College of Art. We would stumble into the huge, light-filled studios and apologetically squeeze in next to a disgruntled art student who was wondering where we had appeared from!
Some of my strongest memories of my time on the course are of the spaces. I vividly remember the romance of George Square library, the sheer amount of books, the complex cataloguing system and the smell. At that time Edinburgh College of Art had an annex off Inverleith Row which housed their fine art printmaking facilities – it was a magical place with Heath Robinson-esque contraptions inhabiting every room of its labyrinthine interior. This was where I first discovered my fascination and love for printmaking.
My most memorable summer job was working in the handicrafts tent at the Highland Show with a group of my fellow art students. We couldn't have asked for something which was further away from the world of contemporary art!
At that time Edinburgh College of Art had an annex off Inverleith Row which housed their fine art printmaking facilities – it was a magical place with Heath Robinson-esque contraptions inhabiting every room of its labyrinthine interior. This was where I first discovered my fascination and love for printmaking.
Tell us about your Experiences since leaving the University
I decided to stay in Edinburgh after graduating, I loved the city and there were plenty of opportunities for me, plus most of my friends were planning on sticking around too. Immediately after graduating I got a couple of jobs at Leith School of Art, one in the office covering a maternity leave and the other teaching evening classes in drawing and painting at the School. This was an invaluable boost for me – I was able to gain teaching experience and make enough money to continue making and exhibiting my own work.
Another opportunity which came my way early on was being asked to produce six screen prints for an exhibition at Hornseys' gallery in Yorkshire. This meant signing up as a member at Edinburgh Printmakers and getting on with some printmaking, which proved to be an important step for my artistic development. And the final significant event that occurred soon after I graduated was being offered a studio at Coburg House Studios in Leith – this provided me with a ready-made support network of artists and craftspeople, plus I was able to showcase my work to a new audience twice a year through the open studios weekend.
Six years down the line and I am continuing to build on these early opportunities in my career as a professional artist and tutor. I am a professional member of Visual Arts Scotland and have recently been made an Associate Member of the Society of Wildlife Artists, which is a great privilege. I regularly make work at Edinburgh Printmakers and I am an artist-member of their board of trustees. I continue to work at Leith School of Art but have graduated to be lead tutor on the one-day painting course and the newly formed printmaking course. The rest of my time is spent making and promoting my work plus occasional teaching opportunities across the UK and abroad.
I have recently been asked to teach on the prestigious Seabird Drawing Course next year. This is a fantastic week of drawing sea birds along the coast of East Lothian originally set up by John Busby RSA who recently passed away; next year is the 25th year. I was first introduced to the course three years ago when I decided to use prize money I had received at the Royal Scottish Academy small works annual exhibition to fund my place on the week. I have attended it every year since as a student and I am really honoured to have been asked to teach on it. The course has an international following and the tutors are some of the finest artists depicting wildlife in the country: Darren Woodhead, John Threlfall and Greg Poole.
After graduating time becomes a precious commodity – as an artist I have to balance my time between making enough money to live on and making my own work. My advice to current students would be to use your time as productively as you can whilst you’re a student. Art college provides an invaluable opportunity to learn about different processes and have access to some fantastic facilities.
I would also recommend spending time researching the world of art and tentatively putting yourself out there – submitting work for exhibitions, setting up a blog about your inspirations and ideas, and finding like-minded groups of artists to work with will all prove invaluable and a good grounding for entering the real art world.