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Combining their interests

Student, Laura Nicholson, working on her artwork

Laura Nicholson credits Reading School of Art with giving them the confidence to use their art in an impactful and meaningful way.

Studying BA Art and Psychology, they found both subjects complemented one another well and combined their love for art and drawing with their interests in psychology.

Finding their style at Reading

Laura was born in New York and moved to New Jersey and West County Ireland before returning to USA, specifically Virginia. However, Laura feels that it was their time in England that really developed them into the person and artist they are today.

"I feel I matured during my time in England, which has helped define who I am as an adult. My childhood was very American, but I identify more with the style of art from England, where I grew up and came into my own."

Whilst at Reading, Laura began to define their own style of art. Laura's work focused on the narrative of the human body and bodily structure, how western ideas and the western canon have influenced what the body looks like. Deriving from methodology, pornography and medical textbooks, Laura explored what it means to have and be in a body.

"I feel my art elaborates my interests in human psychology and I have enjoyed making artwork that makes people think differently, or that can challenge their own ideas somewhat."

Degree show piece: "Sorry, but we don't carry transcendence"

Laura's degree show piece was an installation based around a museum gift shop.

This combined narratives of transcendence (art as a 'good' in and of itself) with practical concerns and material desires (selling T-shirt reproductions and prints to pay the rent).

Gaining practical exposure

Laura took advantage of Reading University's links to contemporary art organisations and had work showcased at Modern Art Oxford (MOA), a leading contemporary art space.

This included work titled, 'Constantly Terrified' – an extended installation that combined Laura's primary art form of drawing with animation.

"Each year the MAO choose three students to set up residency over the summer and my work was chosen to represent Reading School of Art.

"The MAO gave me a great opportunity to work alongside other aspiring, ambitious artists who displayed really different, inventive works of their own – a great moment, really affirming."

Visits from practising artists

Exposure to visiting practitioners through the 'Artist Talks' seminars and Enhancement Week workshops, empowered Laura to pursue their ambitions as an artist.

"Visits from practising artists allowed me to see my voice as a part of a contemporary art dialogue and challenge the opinions of practitioners. I felt far more empowered than I had before. Those that stood out to me were the Kelly Campbell curation workshop and a visit from artist and performer Liv Wynter – a personal idol of mine."

A liberating experience

Being so fond of life here, Laura has decided to continue their work within Reading's emerging creative culture.

"Reading, for me, has been liberating. It has given me the space to breathe and develop, the campus here is beautiful, the outward facing attitudes of the staff helpful and the studio space has really helped me to grow."

Supporting adults with aphasia on placement

Speech and language therapy graduate Jodie Kenvin helped run the Aphasia Friendly Book Club as part of her weekly summer placement. She made connections with clients and found the experience hugely beneficial.

Gaining research skills and hands-on clinical experience

Simon Brett is a psychological wellbeing practitioner (PWP) with the Anxiety and Depression in Young People (AnDY) Research Unit at Reading. He's been part of our School from undergraduate level onwards.

Developing a clinical intervention and making a difference

On her year-long placement, Shannon Smith-Whelan had the chance to develop her own mental health intervention to help children cope with the transition from one school to another.
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