Short Courses

Q & A with Short Courses Art & Design Student and Career Changer

From Architect to Artist: Lindsey Lavender shares her experience that led her to change her professional path

When architect Lindsey Lavender signed up for an Art & Design Short Course in 2010, little did she know that her passion for the subject would soon lead her to pursue a career as a full-time artist.

After reading a glowing review Lindsey had tweeted about the University of Edinburgh's Short Courses, we caught up with our former student to hear more about her Short Courses journey.

From the expert teaching and strong support system available to meeting like-minded people, Lindsey shares her story about her life-changing (and career altering) experience.

Image credit: Jon Davey Photo
Image credit: Jon Davey Photo


1. How did you find out about Short Courses initially?

I found out about Short Courses quite by accident after a friend told me about ILA (Individual Learning Accounts) funding. The ILA website led me to Short Courses. I had been drawing and making textile work in my spare time and saw that the 'Stitched Textiles' course had one space left so I jumped at it.


2. Had you taken an Art and Design course before? What was your prior knowledge/experience in the subject?

I had studied art at school and sixth form college. A few years later, I took another A-level (Highers equivalent) in Art & Design and then attended a life drawing evening-class whilst working as an architect.


3. How did you find the quality and style of teaching?

Unexpectedly high - top teaching staff who are also very successful practicing artists themselves. They had a supportive and encouraging attitude and assumed that we would exhibit at some stage - so I did! Fiona Hutchison suggested that I submit work for the Society of Scottish Artists (SSA) Open in 2013. My work was hung and I was awarded a prize!


4. Were you able to balance your schedule easily enough with your responsibilities at the time?

The fact that I could study part-time during the day (especially mornings) meant that I could take classes whilst my kids were at school.


5. What were some of your favourite courses?

Some highlights include: 

Images & Ideas,  Creating Images ( both with Robbie Bushe)

Drawing PracticesPainting Landscape (with Oliver Reed)

Stitched Textiles (with Fiona Hutchison)


6. How many have you taken? Over what period of time?

I took about 15 classes from 2010-2014 and completed my Certificate of Higher Education (CERT HE) in 2014.

In addition to the above classes I took part in the mentoring pilot in early 2018 and had a very useful 2-hour 1:1 mentoring session with Oliver Reed.  


7. What were you doing before you decided to change careers? What made you decide to change your professional path?

I worked full time as an architect and was on maternity leave with my second child. I was originally drawn to architecture because of the drawing and design elements of practice. Computer-Aided Design (CAD) gradually took over from hand drawing and as I became more senior, I was given a more managerial role with less design elements. I realised after breaking from architecture to have my kids that I didn't want to go back to it but had no idea what I was going to do instead. I started the Short Courses as a means of carving out some mental space for myself doing something I had always been passionate about. I hadn't originally planned it as a career move, but that's what it evolved into!


8. How did you find the social aspect of taking a Short Course?

Socially the courses were great (and I'm a bit of an awkward loner type!) I made lots of friends and I'm still in touch with many of them. I met my good friend (and fellow artist) Elizabeth Stewart  in one of the classes and we have been firm favourites ever since. The classes were always very relaxed and sociable. As a result of meeting tutor Robbie Bushe, I became involved with Visual Arts Scotland as a council member which led me into a whole bigger Scotland wide arts community that I'm very much involved with today.

See what Lindsey Lavender is working on at the moment, here.


9. What techniques have you learned? What was the highlight?

I learned to push my boundaries and experiment. Because I was working for credit, I had to work hard and be prolific.


10. What would you say to someone who’s thinking about taking an Art & Design course?  

Do it, but beware, you'll get hooked!


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