For an artist, your environment often lends itself to your work, inspiring pieces and giving you perspective. It’s one of the reasons why the Arts University Plymouth (AUP) is the ideal institution for aspiring art students as it is located on the coast of Devon in the South West of England. Known as Britain’s Ocean City, Plymouth has a stunning waterfront harbour with expressive countryside views, a lovingly restored 1935 Art Deco lido, a rich history, inventive businesses, forward-thinking cultural organisations and a buzzing city centre. It simply has it all.
“This city has an artsy side like no other, one you don’t really notice until you’re right in the thick of it,” says Frazier White, BA (Hons) Illustration student. “The landscape is beautiful, and the city is full of greenery, surrounded by wildlife protection and areas of outstanding beauty. AUP feels like home to me; it was my dream university, and every year I’ve spent here has been better than the last.”
AUP is the centre of numerous art projects, such as the intergenerational placemaking project, which transforms the city into the regional capital of visual arts (brought to life by investment from Arts Council England). There are also many venues in the city, like KARST, which houses innovative contemporary art exhibitions and residencies and the Market Hall, a digital centre for arts, community activity, enterprise and more, which has undergone a 7.2 million pounds regeneration project. The university has its own well-established gallery named MIRROR, as well as an independent arthouse cinema. All these spaces have been graced by local and touring bands, creative communities, major exhibitions and more.
Being surrounded by lively artistic spaces only enhances a student’s experiences at AUP, as many end up prospering through exhibitions and competitions. For Polish graduate Margo Ryszczuk, Plymouth became her home as she completed her BA (Hons) Commercial Photography degree at AUP, followed by an MA Photography in 2023. Her work has won her a placement with Rankin and has also been exhibited across the UK and the world. Her wedding photography business got her named the best Bespoke Wedding Photographer in the South West at the South West Wedding Awards 2021.
As a specialist school of art and design, AUP masterfully blends art, design and media together. It values exploration and experimentation across traditional material processes alongside new and emerging technologies. In line with this ethos, AUP has Workshop Wednesdays, where the absence of timetabled classes opens students up to free exploration to develop skills outside their usual programme of study.
Students can choose from an expansive menu of open-access workshops, which include learning new and unfamiliar creative and technical skills, mastering learning technologies and software, careers and employability planning and skills development, honing academic skills and writing, and experimenting with new technologies in Fab Lab Plymouth on campus. These are available both on campus and online. “There is an open door atmosphere; when you walk into the studios and workshops, everyone is really helpful and can show you what to do and introduce you to new techniques that will enhance your design opportunities,” says Josh Silvester, BA (Hons) Graphic Communication graduate.
Being exposed to unfamiliar technical processes, techniques and art forms is a great way to expand your horizons. There are even opportunities to collaborate with fellow students. After doing some branding work for the BA (Hons) Fashion Design programme, Silvester began his own streetwear brand called KamEfla3. “I approached Hannah Joce, a student in the fashion programme, about the idea, and we started the brand together,” he says. “We worked really well, producing shows and putting our collaborative skills to work, and we have carried on this venture after graduating. The wide range of knowledge I gained from all areas of AAUP helped give me the skills I needed to get our business started.”
AUP ensures you feel supported throughout your education, offering a variety of free in-house services through the Student Support team. Your well-being is certainly a priority, and you can be referred by your tutor or self-refer to the numerous avenues for support. This includes counselling, wellbeing, learning disability, financial, library, academic skills, IT, technical, employment, and careers.
You may also get support or have their voices heard through the AUP Students’ Union (SU). From academic and social to welfare and personal support, the union helps enrich your experience in multiple ways. SU supports many student-led clubs and societies where you can meet like-minded people and attend events and trips.
The close-knit community at AUP makes the student experience all the more fulfilling. “I chose to study at AUP as it was the first place I discovered that felt like it had a community that supports each other,” says Nath Stark, BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing & Printmaking student. “The campus is one of my favourite aspects; the facilities the university provides and the Students’ Union were just some of the reasons that made me join Arts University Plymouth and want to make the most of my time here.”
Feeling inspired? Learn more about Arts University Plymouth here.