Led by Dr Mel Jordan, Reader in Art & the Public Sphere, the Contemporary Art Practice programme has specialist pathway leaders in order to facilitate a distinct engagement with specific areas of contemporary art practice. The programme is delivered through four pathways: Critical Practice (led by Jeremy Millar), Moving Image (led by Jane Wilson), Performance (led by Professor Nigel Rolfe) and Public Sphere (led by Mel Jordan).
The Contemporary Art Practice programme enables us to incorporate practices that exceed the specificity of the well-established disciplines of Fine Art at the Royal College of Art. Contemporary Art Practice engages with contemporary modes of art production, dissemination and debate. It facilitates specialisation through its pathway structure enabling students to engage with a particular approach to developing their own art practice. The teaching methodology we employ is not technologically or materially determined however students are expected to utilise appropriate and specific means in which to manifest their ideas. Contemporary Art Practice students have access to all facilities within the School of Fine Art.
Critical theory has emerged as an essential intellectual framework for art criticism but what is its potential as a tool within the production of contemporary art? Studio-based and primarily focused on supporting the development of the artistic practice of its students, the Critical Practice pathway offers regular seminars exploring emerging ideas and bodies of theory as well as opportunities to work with organised forms of knowledge such as public archives and institutions.
Moving Image is aimed at artists using film and video, and practitioners working in the areas of documentary film, film and fiction cinema as well as practitioners who wish to draw upon, challenge and re-map established realms of Moving Image based practices. The diversity of approaches employed in the Moving Image pathway reflects the new reality of contemporary moving image.
Performance happens in the ‘here and now’ and not the ‘there and then’. Unlike many practices, where time is historic, and the image presented is necessarily an archive or record, ‘being and doing’ are more immediately significant in live time, and the expectation is that – in the contemporary – artists are often presenting work that is not made in advance but rather happening now!
Public Sphere is a major research area in the School, and the pathway supports expanded engagement with art and its publics as well as art’s social function. Social art practices have featured as a key force in the rise of the global biennale as well as being utilized by the Occupy Movement. Therefore questions about public space, participation, collaboration and collective action are becoming essential principles within the production of contemporary art both in terms of practice and theory.
Your application should be for MA Contemporary Art Practice and you will have to specify in which Pathway you wish to study: Critical Practice, Moving Image, Performance or Public Sphere.
The programme offers:
interdisciplinary opportunities we offer create an engaging professional experience investigating the practice and discourse of fine art. You can choose areas of specialism in drawing from the archive, art in space and place and curating art, alongside your own studio work.
Full-time students use our purpose-built studio space. You have access to a wide range of workshops and technical expertise from all areas of media and fabrication. These include • sculpture • painting • live art • drawing • computer programming • metalwork • video editing • dark rooms • sound studios • film production equipment • printmaking.
Our teaching staff are experts in fine art and art education who not only exhibit their work but also contribute to conferences, journals and publications at national and international levels.
Vibrant and supportive learning environment
The course offers a supportive community to foster your practice and your ambitions as a fine art professional. It is particularly suitable if you are • open-minded • ambitious • keen to experience new personal challenges that expand your creative development • interested in understanding all areas of the fine art discipline.
You are encouraged to create experimental and innovative works and to engage with the critical context of art in our time. Dialogue with peers, practicing artists and structured teaching throughout the course enables you to identify your practice within the wider field of fine art to achieve new goals, develop networks and find new inspirations to enrich your creative ambitions.
Excellent creative resources
We have a comprehensive range of technical resources and an excellent programme of high profile guest artists from across the visual arts spectrum to stimulate debates on issues of art and culture. If you are doing your work placement in another European country there may be funding available through the Erasmus programme.
Dynamic and creative art community
Fine art students work and exhibit in the heart of Sheffield's Cultural Industries Quarter. The course has links with • Sheffield Contemporary Arts Forum • studio groups such as S1 and Bloc • Yorkshire Art Space Society • the Showroom Cinema • Site Gallery.
Sheffield has a dynamic and vibrant creative community. We work collaboratively with artists and curators, as well as researchers and students in other areas. You have access to a network of public galleries, art organisations and artist-run spaces. Opportunities for exhibiting and publishing take place throughout the year.
MA and MFA study
MA and MFA students complete the same modules during the course except that MFA students complete an extra project module. The MFA project encourages you to develop professional skills that help you to identify, instigate, and deliver projects with external partners, such as communities, galleries or businesses. You find a project partner, agree a brief and then deliver the project to a professional standard.
This course is part of the Sheffield Institute of Arts (SIA), an amazing, diverse community of makers – where staff, students and partners work as equals to deliver real innovation and creativity. SIA opened in 1843 and is one of the UK's oldest Art and Design Schools. We have recently moved into the Head Post Office, a redesigned Grade II listed building. It includes state-of-the-art workshops which provide you with a unique studio-based learning environment in the heart of the creative community.
In this module you extend your knowledge of the range of approaches to research that have been used in art, and those that derive from other disciplines. You are introduced to an advanced range of contemporary critical theories, and examine key texts embodying these theories. Principles of research planning and the theory and practice of information searching ensure you are ready to effectively carry out your own research and critical practice.
During this studio-based module, you produce a body artwork in preparation for an exhibition. Your work may manifest itself across a range of contemporary art practices arising from individual intellectual and creative concerns. You have access to specialist workshop surgeries where you can seek individual support and advice to further your practical work.
On this module you produce a body of work in any chosen media form. It draws together strategies of research, professional practice and critical thinking to form an advanced, mature, informed and professional practice. The module holds together these key aspects to reflect, and enable transition into, the wider contemporary art world.
You select from options that are led by research active staff who will introduce you to their own professional interests including • art writing • curating art • art in space and place • drawing from the archive • gallery – public realm: making art inside and out
MFA core module – MFA students only
You reflect on and consider methodologies of fine art to develop an individual method of making.
Your work on this final MFA project involves public presentation of your work supported by a mentor who guides you as you make the leap into the professional world.
Self-negotiated models of examination enable students to present agreed bodies of work for self and peer group assessment as well as evaluation by tutors.
We provide a learning environment that supports your individual needs while developing your involvement in the wider art world.
You are regularly involved in a range of exhibition, curatorial, performance, screening and publishing projects at regional, national and international levels.
You gain confidence to exploit opportunities for practicing artists and work in associated fine art-related culture. You can also register for further study at MPhil/PhD level within our Art and Design Research Centre.
Graduate successes include
Explore the potential of performance design with this wide-ranging programme.
You’ll develop an awareness of the performance events and experiences that can be created with the aid of lighting, projection, settings and objects, puppetry, props, costume, sound as well as newer technologies such as digital and pervasive media. You’ll have space to experiment and come up with innovative and creative ideas for performance, while learning more about the theories and concepts that are shaping emergent forms of theatre, art and performance practice.
As you build up your MA portfolio you’ll engage with contemporary performance and arts practices – including immersive and participatory forms of performance, as well as those outside of the theatre – while considering the role they play in their wider social, cultural and economic landscape. This is the only research-orientated programme in the UK tailored towards academic and practical engagement with performance design.
You’ll be based in our purpose-built landmark building [email protected], with two professional-standard and publicly licensed theatres that regularly host works by students and visiting theatre companies. One of these is a technically advanced research facility, and both are fully equipped with the latest technology. A dance studio, dressing rooms and box office are also in the building, and our School includes rehearsal rooms, two black-box studios, costume construction and wardrobe stores, a design studio and scenic workshop, video editing and sound recording suits as well as computer aided design.
But our biggest strength is our links with external organisations, which give you the chance to get outside the theatre and explore performance in different environments. Our partners include Opera North, West Yorkshire Playhouse, the National Media Museum, Leeds City Council, Red Ladder Theatre Company, Limehouse Productions, Phoenix Dance Theatre, the National Coal Mining Museum for England, HMP New Hall, Blah BlahBlah Theatre Company, the BBC and HMP Wetherby.
Throughout the programme, you’ll develop an awareness of research methods and approaches in performance and the cultural industries. In Semester One, you’ll also take a core module which introduces you to key concepts, theories and ideas in performance design, exploring ideas such as visuality and the theatre, spectacle, audience experience and multi-sensorial performance.
This foundation will inform the rest of your studies, including your practice. In Semester One you’ll also work with a range of scenographic materials to develop your own creative practice, spending time in practical workshops alongside lectures where you’ll consider current issues and debates in performance design and the role of practice-led research.
In Semester Two you’ll apply all the knowledge and skills you’ve gained to an independent research project, which could be practice-led or a written dissertation on a topic of your choice. You’ll also be able to spend more time on your practice – you’ll have the chance to complete an individual project, or to collaborate with fellow students from across the School, or work on another small-scale research project based on a two-week placement in an external organisation. Alternatively you could choose from optional modules on topics such as audience engagement or debates on culture and place.
If you choose to study part-time, you’ll study over a longer period and take fewer modules in each year.
We use different teaching and learning methods to help you develop your skills and make the most of our tutors’ expertise, including, practicals, seminars, tutorials, lectures and group learning. Independent study is also integral to the programme, since it helps you to form your own ideas and build skills in research and analysis.
The assessment methods you experience will vary depending on the module. However, to allow you to develop skills in a range of areas they will include essays, performances, visual documentation, verbal presentations, critical evaluations and reports.
This programme will give you the knowledge and skills to become an articulate and creative performance design practitioner. This could include; working as a designer or director in theatre, live performance, festivals or the events industry (either within a company or freelance), creating your own performance events or performance company, or working in community arts.
You’ll also gain a range of transferable skills in research, analysis, interpretation and communication, as well as imagination, independence and cultural awareness. This will equip you to work for a variety of roles across the cultural and creative industries, for example, in administration, marketing and management.
Because of the emphasis on research, it’s also good preparation for PhD-level study and teaching.
We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.
The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more at the Careers website.