Interview with Norwich University of the Arts student Hanhee Shin, one of our South Korean students currently enrolled on the BA (Hons) Fine Art course.
Why did you choose to study at the NUA?
After I did a foundation course in Korea, I applied to NUA. After submitting my portfolio, I enjoyed this really long interview where I could see the interviewer from the University was really interested in my portfolio and my work.
Has your experience here been what you expected?
I had experience in the creative studio before, so I knew what to expect from a fine art course and what it would be like. Here there is a lot of freedom, but they will not tell me the themes or instruct me to “make this” or “make that.” I really like it. I really like my course, tutors and the friends I’ve made here. I think Norwich is great and it’s quite near to London (it’s just 2 hours by train), so if you have a student railcard it’s not expensive. Norwich is a small city so I don’t get lost! It’s also quite easy to make friends. You see your flatmates every day and they really care. They don’t make me feel different.
Tell me more about what you have been doing on your course.
In the first year we did a lot of practical workshops in all different mediums. This year I am more focussed on one concept and I am trying to think a bit more deeply about the work. I am looking at the theme of space. It’s a very interesting thing because it’s everywhere and you take it for granted. But when you give it more thought it adds a bit of a twist and this concept gets interesting. I’m also interested in architectural structures as well.
What support to do you get?
Of all the things that I really like about my course, it is that the tutors are not only nice but they are really really helpful; especially my tutor. There is a formal schedule when you see the lecturers for tutorials, but I can easily just go and ask for more tutorials if I want. I can see they’re genuinely interested in helping me.
Have you worked on any collaborative projects or exhibitions?
As part of the course in Year Two, we will be having collaborative project in second term but we had an interim group exhibition in the first term. What was really nice was learning about curation when staging that exhibition. We got to learn about what curators do… particularly communication between the curator and the artists. It was really difficult but in the end it was a great experience.
How did you find working as a group?
I saw that artists want to do everything by themselves and curators want to do everything for the artists! Half of the year group were curators and half were artists and we swapped over later.
What is the best thing about your course, for you personally?
The freedom. I really don’t want other people to tell me what to make, or what themes I should deal with. Some people don’t like it because they like to be told. Here, you have all the guidance you need, but you have to go for it independently.
How do you parents feel about your course?
That would require a long explanation. In some Asian cultures, contemporary art isn’t well understood. In the UK, it’s challenging but it’s even more so where I come from. In some ways, fine art is restricted to traditional art forms, like paintings of landscapes, portraits, flowers – and for decoration. It’s thought of more as a craft rather than a conceptual practice. My parents are really supportive, though, and they want to know what I’m doing. They say it’s really difficult for them to understand, but they still ask me about my practice and to explain my work.
Would you say that coming to the UK has changed your view of art?
Yes, definitely! I actually did all maths and sciences for my A-Levels. I didn’t know I was going to study art. I was thinking of doing bio-genetics or bio-engineering, but for some reason I wanted to try to be creative. I went to the studio and there I learnt there’s more to fine art than traditional forms. Thank God I did or else I might just be painting portraits or landscapes!
“Of all the things that I really like about my course, it is that the tutors are not only nice but they are really really helpful; especially my tutor.”
BA (Hons) Fine Art.