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Fangru's exhibition piece

Fangru flourished and developed as a creative during her time at Reading, and thanks the Department's collaborative, supportive and diverse learning environment for building the foundations for her future research. Having completed her undergraduate degree in Shanghai, she came to Reading to study for her MA Fine Art in 2020. Now graduated, she is working as a freelance creative in her home city of Shanghai.

Like many international students, she decided where to study based on her online research. What made Reading the clear choice was the facilities, industry reputation, campus, and location in the UK.

“I chose to study at the University of Reading because of the beautiful surroundings and the learning environment, and the fact it is close to London. I chose this course because of the fantastic resources and facilities; also the lecturers are respected, practising artists in the field.”

“I love the richness of the teaching resources at the University of Reading. Apart from the excellent professors, there is also state-of-the-art creative equipment, and each student has their own creative space.”

Adjusting to life as an international student

As an international student, Fangru found living and studying in the UK quite daunting at first. But, thanks to the diverse and inclusive international community within the Department, she soon found it an excellent learning environment for any international student. The Department supported and encouraged her and other students to collaborate, becoming active and engaged members of the local creative community. This greatly improved Fangru’s experience of, and adaptation to, studying in the UK.

“After coming to Reading, I felt very supported by the Department. We were exposed to exhibitions in both Reading and London, and the support myself and the other international students received helped us become involved in the local culture and adapt to life here. The Department was highly diverse and inclusive, with international students from all over the world. I was exposed to many unique cultures and opinions, and this improved my knowledge and helped develop my work. I have collaborated with many international students from other countries in various activities and art exhibitions.”

Practical and creative skill development

At Reading, Fangru was exposed to a highly creative and independent learning style. The Department helped her to master a theoretical knowledge of art, with emphasis placed on her developing her practical and creative skills. She was encouraged to discover, learn and develop independently, allowing her creative skills to flourish.

“My undergraduate study in Shanghai was a more controlled learning experience. Studying in the UK was more open, I could be a lot more independent.”

“At Reading, in addition to mastering the theoretical knowledge of art, emphasis was placed on the development of our practical and creative ability. We were given the ability to explore creative directions; I was able to study any topic I found interesting, and experiment with materials. We were given a studio space of our own – a great help in the creation of work."

Working collaboratively and exploring unique interests

Fangru’s MA focused on studying the effects, changes, and contradictions of intimate relationships – of combining the social, individual, and emotional aspects of the environment and presenting them in a physical form. She was supported in exploring different ways of working, and became very interested in working with her partner to form an artistic partnership. Thanks to expert academics, experienced in a multitude of fields and subjects, Fangru was able to explore this concept with Dr. Pil and Dr. Galia Kollectiv, who are highly experienced working as an artistic couple. They were able to advise and support her creative exploration, and advised on how to succeed and develop work as a collective.

“Our collaboration required us to give up parts of ourselves, but we wanted to challenge ourselves in this relationship. Dr. Pil and Dr. Galia Kollectiv, who are also a "couple artist", helped us a lot to think outside of ourselves and try to create a 'third mind' in line with the collaboration”

One of the aspects that improved Fangru’s experience was the community and collaborative environment.

“I am constantly switching between individual and group work, which not only improves my teamwork skills but also allows me to meet many excellent artists in exhibitions and gives me more opportunities to express myself. The group exhibitions at the end of each semester are what I look forward to the most, from allocating space to setting up the exhibition to the launch.”

Industry connections

Fangru enjoyed regular contact with practising artists, and found the Department's close connections with industry key to developing her work.

“I've met a lot of artists in the field and I've made many like-minded friends here. My favourite part of the course is the artist lectures each week, where we get to meet many internationally renowned artists and learn about their creative processes. The one-to-one meetings with the artists after the lectures are very important for us  they allow us to learn from them which inspires our work.”

Fangru would recommend that any international student choose Reading for their MA studies. Not only was she given the ability to build her brand and explore creative interests in a supportive and independent learning environment, but the diverse and inclusive community provided invaluable influence and inspiration.