“There is no such thing as a ‘bad degree show’”

Each individual degree show – whether that is in fine art or any other creative discipline – represents several years of experimentation, risk, failure, success and growth. Every show is an independent triumph for the student concerned. In that sense, there is no such thing as a ‘bad degree show’. But a really great degree show is exciting and unpredictable. It captures the difference and community of a really good course.

As tutors, we build and maintain a catalytic surface for learning and experimentation. We are skilled at asking the right questions. But students learn at least as much from each other as they do from the staff.

Art students are challenged to find their own creative path, and they respond and react to each other, often in surprising and unpredictable ways. That’s the sort of chemistry that can’t be planned for. It’s the mucky magic of British art schools. And as a result – in the best degree show – the work will be genuinely new and surprising. That is what’s great about working with fine art students: the opportunity to keep on learning.

Benedict Carpenter, principal lecturer on BA (Hons) Fine Art at Nottingham Trent University

Interview by Jack Hutchinson

Image: Nottingham Trent University Degree Show 2018, with work by Alison Squires, BA (Hons) Fine Art.

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