About

Intro: Welcome to our new blog.

Here’s a little background:

The MFA Fine Art in Belfast was established in 1979.

Since then, 320 emerging artists, 21 full time staff (including 6 Course Directors) and over 200 visiting artists have exerted their individual and collective influence on the shape and direction of this program of study.

The course continues to produce artists of international reputation as evidenced by the success of graduates in major national and international prizes and competitions; in 2011 Susan Phillipsz was recipient of the Turner Prize (Tate Britain), one of the most prestigious awards for Fine Art. The program has also provided five previous nominees for the same award. Two graduates have been awarded the highly competitive Paul Hamlyn Award. The course has also been substantially represented over the years in other high profile events and prizes, including the Venice Biennale (multiple exhibitors alumni and staff), Becks Futures and the Glenn Dimplex Award and the Nissan Art Project, (IMMA, Dublin). Film production, gallery management and curation are allied areas where graduates have been internationally successful, the course has also been immensely influential in the sphere of art education across Europe with a high number of elevated academic, research and management positions being held by MFA graduates.

The course’s vision remains as radical and cutting edge as it was in 1979 – asserting  relevancy, criticality and quality in today’s contemporary art world.

The long winded version…

The international reputation of this MFA Fine Art Course has been well documented. Its popularity and sustainability over thirty years, notwithstanding the changing demographics of postgraduate provision, have been proven. The course remains the premier masters Fine Art provision in the island of Ireland and a popular venue for UK students outside of London and is gaining popularity from further afield.

In 1979, the course was validated, as an MA under the flag of the Ulster Polytechnic with an intake of six students per year. Since then, 320 emerging artists, 21 full time staff (including 6 Course Directors) and over 200 visiting artists have exerted their individual and collective influence on the shape and direction of this program of study.

The course continues to produce artists of international reputation as evidenced by the success of graduates in major national and international prizes and competitions; in 2011 Susan Phillipsz was recipient of the Turner Prize (Tate Britain), one of the most prestigious awards for Fine Art. The program has also provided five previous nominees for the same award. Two graduates have been awarded the highly competitive Paul Hamlyn Award. The course has also been substantially represented over the years in other high profile events and prizes, including the Venice Biennale (multiple exhibitors alumni and staff), Becks Futures and the Glenn Dimplex Award and the Nissan Art Project, (IMMA, Dublin). Film production, gallery management and curation are allied areas where graduates have been internationally successful, the course has also been immensely influential in the sphere of art education across Europe with a high number of elevated academic, research and management positions being held by MFA graduates.

The maintenance of a rigorous and stimulating environment within which students will be encouraged to extend the parameters of contemporary art practice and develop modes of delivery is a conscious and enduring aim, allied to the fostering of enquiry, which both embraces and challenges traditional wisdom. It is essential to recognise that the philosophy and delivery of the course are pitched with both current practice based concerns and future career pathways in mind; recent student successes illustrate not only the ambition of the course in preparing students for ultimate acclaim but the development of self-belief and stamina which are needed to bridge the gap between graduation and recognition.

The contribution of the course to the economic, social and cultural development of the region (a stated aim of the University) is demonstrated, amongst other ways, by the number of artist run galleries and studio collectives which have been wholly or partially initiated by MFA graduates. The course team maintains a symbiotic relationship with these organisations, which provide regular opportunities for students to present work within a professional milieu both as curators and practitioners. This, supplemented by the professional and academic success of a significant number of graduates, helps to promote the University and the region internationally. The course has also been successful in initiating and maintaining a widening range of creative partnerships, ranging from placements with commercial Galleries in London to formal and informal links with French and German educational establishments and local studio groups and galleries.

The maintenance of quality output is dependant on the quality of applications and intake. Every effort is made to both maintain the role as section leader and widen the catchment of quality applications.

Whilst we continue to attract high calibre graduates and practicing artists, who wish to consolidate their studio practice and to enhance their professional status, strategies to enable us to grow are under continual development. This is essential in the face of burgeoning postgraduate competition and the current economic climate.

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