To get a sense of where people go onto and what they do here are some profiles of MFA Alumni: This section is currently being populated…many more soon.
Glasgow-born Susan Philipsz completed a Master of Fine Art at Belfast in 1994 before embarking on her early career at the artist run organisation Catalyst Arts in Belfast. Susan, who currently works in Berlin, uses her own voice to create uniquely evocative sound installations. She has recorded three separate versions of a traditional folk song, Lowlands Away, which tells the tale of a man drowned at sea who returns to tell his lover of his death.
It was first performed beneath three bridges over the River Clyde in her native Glasgow, but for the past two months has been playing in the white void of the galleries at Tate Britain.
Susan won the Turner Prize in 2010 and follows upon the success of several other MFA alumni and staff nominees for this prestigious prize.
Brian Fay lectures in Fine Art at the Dublin Institute of Technology. Recent solo exhibitions in Ireland include Broken Images or When Does Posterity Begin? (2011) Ashford Gallery RHA, Dublin, Some Time Now (2007/08) show at The Lab, Mermaid and Solstice Arts Centres, Web, Butler Gallery, Kilkenny (2005) and enCODEd, (2005) Context Gallery, Derry, Project Arts Centre, Dublin and West Cork Arts Centre, Cork.
Group shows include Motion Capture: Drawing and the Moving Image, (2012/13) Lewis Glucksman Gallery, Cork, Ireland, Projet Gutenberg, (2012) Galerie Jeanroch Dard, Paris, France, 43 Uses of Drawing, (2011) Rugby Art Museum, England, Fine Lines: from the National Collection of Contemporary Drawing, (2010) Limerick City Gallery, Ireland, Into Irish Drawing (2010), Limerick City Gallery, Civic Arts Hengelo, Holland, Irish Cultural Institute, Paris, Millennium Arts, Northern Ireland, and Other Men’s Flowers, (2008) Dublin City Gallery: The Hugh Lane, Ireland.
He was Head of Fine Art at the Dublin Institute of Technology from 2008 – 10. Fay worked as a Board Member and Secretary of Visual Artists Ireland (2004 – 10) and is currently the Artist Board Member at The Lewis Glucksman Gallery, University College Cork. He is also currently conducting a practice led PhD at Northumbria University, Newcastle, England.
His work is in the National Drawing Collection, and the collections of The Crawford Art Gallery, Dublin Institute of Technology, Office of Public Works and private collections.
MFA reflections: My time on the MFA programme (1995-97) was of huge significance to my development as an artist and an educator. The two year full time duration of the programme fostered a spirit of experimentation in an environment that was both critical and supportive. My work benefited from being able to address some fundamental questions to what I felt constituted a meaningful art practice. It allowed us to take chances.
The programme also nurtured some important relationships and support networks that have remained with me. Many of those in my year have gone on to work as practicing artists, curators, art writers and educators. I have been very fortunate to work within Art education for the last fifteen years, as an artist, lecturer and Head of Department. This would not have happened without my qualification from the University of Ulster at Belfast, the high reputation the programme is held in, and the quality of education and opportunities I received there.
I completed my MFA in Belfast 1996, moving to New York in 2001 after undertaking an curatorial MA at the Royal College of Art, London, I worked for commercial and not-for-profit galleries there, and as an independent art writer and editor, contributing to Artforum, frieze, Art Monthly, Art in America, and other journals, exhibition catalogues, and websites. From 2004 to 2008, I was Associate Editor (US reviews) at Artforum.
I then worked independently for four years on various curatorial and writing projects including a book, How to Read Contemporary Art, which was published in the UK by Thames & Hudson in 2013. I’m currently Editor, Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative, overseeing all the written materials associated with this series of international curatorial residencies and touring exhibitions based at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
MFA reflections: The MFA Fine Art was very helpful in allowing me to develop my art practice in a context and environment that were at once extraordinarily open-ended and clearly marked by specific histories, both creative and sociopolitical. The teaching seemed unusually respectful of the many ways that one might choose to engage with these histories, and of the many approaches one might take to being an artist in general. At a time when the model of artist-as-entrepreneur was on the rise, it felt—and still feels—important that art should be presented as first and foremost a field of investigation.
Studying for two years on the MFA in Belfast had an acute impact on the direction of my career, indeed my life. The distinctive nature of the place was a reason to go to Belfast, in the quality of the teaching and the nature of the support I found a reason to stay. My time on the MFA enhanced my understanding of my practice and made it stronger, better informed and more critical. Since leaving the course I have built a vigorous studio practice and I am currently undertaking a PhD. Through experience gained during my MFA I also developed a tertiary teaching practice which has been a key development in my career thus far.
Eamon O’Kane studied on the MFA in 1996-1998 now lives and works in Odense, Denmark and Bergen, Norway where he is Professor of Visual Art (since 2011) and Artistic Research Leader (from 2012-2015) at Bergen Academy of Art and Design. He has a second MFA in Design Technology from Parsons School of Design in New York. From 1998-1999 he was Research Fellowship (Painting), Cheltenham & Gloucester College of Higher Education, UK, from 2000-20011 he was Assistant Lecturer, Limerick School of Art and Design and from 2001-2007 he was Senior Lecturer in Fine Art, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK. He has been board member of Spike Island, Bristol and was one of the founding members of the artist run gallery space LOT, Bristol, UK.
Eamon O’Kane has exhibited widely and is the recipient of many awards and scholarships including the Taylor Art Award, The Tony O’Malley Award and a Fulbright Award. In 2006 he was short-listed for the AIB Prize and received a Pollock Krasner foundation grant. O’Kane has had over forty solo exhibitions including shows in Berlin, Frankfurt, Dublin, Zurich, New York, London and Copenhagen. He was shortlisted for the Jerwood Drawing Prize in London in 2007. O’Kane completed a six month residency at The British School at Rome in 2006 and a three month residency at Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris in 2008. He has shown in exhibitions curated by Dan Cameron, Lynne Cooke, Klaus Ottman, Salah M. Hassan, Jeremy Millar, Mike Fitzpatrick, Sarah Pierce, Jeanne Greenberg-Rohatyn, Angelika Nollert, Yilmaz Dziewior and Apinan Poshyananda. He has taken part in EV+A, Limerick, Ireland seven times including 2005 when he received an EV+A open award from Dan Cameron.
His artwork is in numerous public and private collections worldwide including Deutsche Bank; Burda Museum, Baden Baden, Germany; Sammlung Südhausbau, Munich; Limerick City Gallery; FORTIS; Microsoft; Bank of Ireland Collection; Irish Contemporary Arts Society; Country Bank, New York; P.M.P.A. and Guardian Insurance; UNIBANK, Denmark; NKT Denmark; HK, Denmark; Den Danske Bank, Denmark; Letterkenny Institute of Technology; University Of Ulster, Belfast; Aspen, London; Rugby Art Gallery and Museum Collection.
MFA reflections: The MFA programme (1996-1998) was of great importance to me both as an artist and an educator. During the MFA I gained my first teaching experience as a demonstrator lecturer and the guidance and support I received from staff allowed me to develop the confidence to go onto teaching internationally. I am certain that I would not have become a Professor and Artistic Research Leader without the experience I gained on the MFA programme. I have important memories of my first experiences of teaching, my interaction with the students in my year and the staff that guided me during the two years, especially Prof. Alistair MacLennan, Dr. Slavka Sverakova, Brian Connolly and Tony Hill.
Brian Curtin studied on the 1992-3 MFA and went on to complete a studio-based PhD from the University of Bristol. He relocated to Bangkok in 2000 where he has since established a profile as an art writer and curator of contemporary art. Brian has been a contributor/contributing editor to the magazines Art iT, Contemporary, Circa, Frieze, Flash Art, Artforum.com and Art Asia Pacific, as well as writing for a range of other contexts. His published profiles of artists includeAlice Maher, Sopheap Pich,Collier Schorr, Paul Pfeiffer, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook and Apichatpong Weerasethakul.
As a curator, Brian works with a variety of spaces and has mounted exhibitions in New York, China, Korea and the UK as well as regionally. Exhibition titles include The Ethics of Encounter: Contemporary Art from India and Thailand (2008); On the Threshold of the Senses: New Art from Southeast Asia (2012); Intimately: An Exhibition of Photography (2012); Economies of Touch: Sheelah Murthy (2013); Radiation: Art and Queer Ideas from Bangkok and Manila (2014); and Rates of Exchange, Un-Compared: Contemporary Art in Bangkok and Phnom Penh (2014). His curatorial work has been funded by Arts Council England and Australia Council for the Arts. Since 2011 Brian has managed H Project Space as part of H Gallery Bangkok.
Brian has held a number of university lectureships, including the Faculty of Architecture of Chulalongkorn University and the Department of Multimedia at Bangkok University. He is external examiner for the MFA in Communication Design at King Mongkut’s University Thonburi and a visiting lecturer on the PhD Design Arts program at Silpakorn University. Research areas include queer aesthetics, critical theories of photography and contemporary art from Thailand.
MFA Reflections: I was part of the last crop of MFA students who completed the course over twelve months, rather than the current two years, and I remember the time as brief but intense. Many of the sureties I carried about myself and why I wanted to be an artist were bluntly challenged throughout the year and I’ve since recognized the critical value of an education that renders the world strange to you. I gravitated towards Hilary Robinson’s teaching and writings because of her interest in sometimes uncomfortable (and, in my experience, often dismissed) questions of subjectivity, identity and the political relationship between art and representation. Hilary also enthusiastically encouraged my burgeoning interest in a range of female and feminist artists. Many of the ideas I continue to work with were fomented during that time.