Hannah McCurrie, second-year History of Art student
"It’s not just looking at art on the gallery wall, it’s also the city and landscape around you."
Why study History of Art?
"I did biology, chemistry and history for my A levels, so had never studied art or history of art at all. My mum and dad had quite a big influence, as they’d always taken me to European cities and art galleries – Italy, Spain, France, places like that. Also I did art for GCSE and really enjoyed it.
I looked at the modules and thought they seemed really interesting and applicable to loads of future careers as well. You don’t have to work in a museum when you come out the other end.
Writing is probably what I’m best at, in comparison to the sciences. I was going to apply to do biochemistry and then I changed my mind."
What has your course taught you so far?
"Definitely communication. The ability to speak up in class, put forward your ideas. Also essay writing skills, referencing, putting forward a solid argument. Because I’m a course rep and ambassador, maybe team leading as well. I feel like I represent a big part of my student community."
Which optional modules did you choose and why?
"Three of the modules I picked were from History of Art – Black Art in a White Context, LA Art and Architecture, and Avant-garde European Film – but then I chose one from Liberal Arts, which was Philosophy of Art. Philosophy really appealed to me, so I thought I’ll give it a go. It’s really good, it’s probably one of my favourite modules that I’ve done. I’m really enjoying it."
What's been your favourite module so far?
"Black Art in a White Context was really good. It’s with Isobel Elstob. I find her really engaging as a teacher.
The module makes you think past the Western canon of art. When you go to places like Tate Modern, there’s loads on it as well, to do with Black Lives Matter, or Black History Month.
All the information from that really helps emphasise how important that module is and applicable to the everyday news. It’s really relevant."
What's been the best part of your course?
"Researching for my module Black Art in a White Context. Isobel showed us this artist, Kara Walker, and she did this statue called 'Fons Americanus' which is this massive sculpture installed in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern. I got on the train to London to research it further. I also collected a bit of information, to take back to Isobel for us to talk about it. It really helped, being able to go and view it and back-up my project."
Any staff shout-outs?
"Isobel is really good, she’d always do calls with me whenever I needed. Lara Pucci as well did loads of calls with me and introduced me to the student ambassador opportunity. She’s been really helpful in suggesting all these opportunities outside of the course."
What have you gained from being a course rep and school ambassador?
I think it’s a confidence thing. It takes quite a bit to talk to say 40 people on my course and get opinions out of them. It pushes you out of your comfort zone. It’s really good.
"It’s nice to talk to the staff as well, on meetings, and voice problems or praise. It gives you a bit more of a connection with them. Because I can talk to them more, it makes it easier for me to have one-on-ones as well – I don’t really get nervous about it anymore. It definitely builds a relationship."
Which university facilities have you found useful for your course?
"For one of my modules, Art and Architecture in Nottingham, we did loads of case studies around St Mary’s Church in the Lace Market.
When we went to the Manuscripts and Special Collections, there were tables of books, information, leaflets and blueprints about the church, to help with the assessment. That was really good. You could use that and apply it to your work.
As for the Djanogly Gallery at Lakeside Arts, Ting Chang has been really good for setting up talks with Mat Collishaw, the guy who’s recently done the exhibition there. We got to visit the gallery. It’s nice to go with your friends, and they do change the space a lot, so there’s always something new to look at.
The staff took us on loads of field trips in the city as well. There was the Council House, the Playhouse theatre, the Anish Kapoor installation, which I really liked. When I went to Tate Modern there was loads of Anish Kapoor there, so to see it in the actual landscape was really interesting."
Are you part of any societies?
"I started trying to learn Italian, so joined the Italian Society – that was so fun. It’s good for making friends, I met one of my housemates through the society. I went by myself so didn’t know anyone. It forced me to increase my social group."
The societies massively impacted my enjoyment of university.
Any idea what you'd like to do your dissertation on?
"I’m not 100% yet. I always like looking at the place of gender and race, I think that’s really relevant and important. I really like Italian Renaissance art as well, but then I also like modern to contemporary work as well. It’s really tricky.
In the future I’d quite like to do journalism or something like that. I’d like to apply the writing skills to work. I’d quite like a social job as well, so maybe applying that in some way."
Study History of Art