Joella Wheatley, BA (Hons) Fine Art alumna, graduated in 2012.

She now lives and works in London, and talks about life since graduating.

Why did you choose to study Fine Art at AUB?

“When I went to the open day, you go to a lot of universities and you look at them all, but I liked that it was quite small and it was all art related. It just felt right, everyone was friendly. It makes a big difference when you attend the open days and feel welcomed and the staff and students are always approachable, it made me feel like I was already at home.

“I didn’t research statistics because for me, it was more about whether I felt at ease with the tutors and the place.”

What was your biggest achievement from the first year after graduating?

“The Platform exhibition and award, which then led on to me having my first solo show at Aspex Gallery in Portsmouth. I had a year after graduating to produce work, so it was a good amount of time to produce a large body of work. I produced 16 paintings, the most I have ever produced for one series of work!”

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

“A bit of everything really, settling down in the studio I have now. Having a job that is to do with art.  I currently work for Lavender Leonardos/Lavender Print School, which I help manage. It provides teaching and workshops for children through to adults.

Generally feeling content with what I’m doing at the moment, to be able to feel I am quite happy of what I have done so far, although I know there is still more to achieve and a lot more I want to achieve!”

Have you participated in anything with AUB since graduating?

“Yes, I’ve done a few actually. I was involved in a cultural collaboration with a French University in Rennes, which was organised by AUB. 6 Alumni students were chosen from several courses. This involved organising exhibitions in both Bournemouth and Rennes with making site-specific work. This was led by Tom Hall and Pat Taylor. It was a fantastic project to get chosen for and it allowed me to expand my practice by using different materials and different inspirations!

“I was then invited to curate and organise the Lower Gardens project in 2015, which is an opportunity for second year Fine Art Students to participate in an exhibition in the public domain.

“It was a lot of fun, I have also donated work for the Fine Art auction that has helped raise money for the London Graduate show each year.”

How do you feel studying Fine Art at AUB has benefitted you?

“When joining AUB, I felt a bit lost with my art. I hadn’t really identified my own practice and it took me a while to develop one. However after the three years I finally found it!

“The course allowed me to explore and experiment and most importantly I got great support from the tutors! They made me question my work and myself; I believe you can’t really be taught your practice but more guided. After graduating, I felt confident to go out into the real world.”

“I’ve always found great support with the people around me that have been able to push my work and for me to develop it. For me, I needed to discover things on my own and learn to step outside my comfort zone.

“If I could go back and do my time again, I would appreciate the resources that the university has, as I didn’t as much at the time. Whether it is artist talks or opportunities that were available, even the library.

“I’d also have made use of that time and space to fully engage with my work. I regret that I didn’t experiment with printmaking. When you leave university generally you’re still quite young and still not sure about what you will do at the end of it.”

What’s your one piece of advice for the next generation of creatives?

“I think, obviously, it is all different depending on who you are. For me it is important to keep going and not to stop. I think it is easy to stop when you come out of university and you’ve had a stressful final year and you want to have a relaxing summer. But push through it and keep going and your next project will be there. The art world is a tricky place and I think it’s easier if you identify yourself quite quickly.

“One other thing is that you can start looking for opportunities before you leave uni, you will have a lot going on but actually you should get yourself out there so that you don’t stop.”