Whenever people mentioned the cliché, “uni will be the best 3 years of your life”, I was very sceptical. That was until the Artist Designer Maker course at Cardiff Met completely changed my perspective.
It all started with an Open Day talk from Ingrid Murphy, one of the principal lecturers on the course. Her enthusiasm was so contagious I was ready to start my first year there and then! Now I’m in third year, and I have changed so much since becoming a part of the Artist Designer: Maker course. I don’t ever remember feeling so confident within myself.
It was a huge change from my Art A-Level where the teaching was very much focused on painting and 2D design, and we were very rarely pushed in the direction of 3D work. First year Maker was the complete opposite – we spent the first term trying everything from woodworking, metal, glass casting and enamelling to mould making, slip casting and much more. This opened the door to so many opportunities, and having a first year that stripped everything down to basic design principles really helped my creativity to flow.
The tutors are always there from the start to support you and plant the seed for so many ideas. They are really knowledgeable and never fail to push you in the direction that is most beneficial for you – even if you initially think they’re completely wrong!
And then there are all the amazing, likeminded people studying on the course. I was always sceptical of that other uni cliché “you’ll meet your friends for life” – in fact, I remember writing a diary entry at the start of my first year about how I didn’t think that would happen. Now I can safely say that most of my flatmates from halls and course mates are definitely going to be people who stay in my life for a long time, both personally and professionally.
Beyond the people that you meet through the Maker course, and in uni as a whole, there are the facilities that you can take complete advantage of. Given my interest in ceramics, I like to spend the majority of my time in the throwing room, which is open until midnight every weekday.
I’ve also had the opportunity to work on the plaster lathe, make plaster moulds, slip cast, get inducted on the kilns, try raku firing, make every glaze imaginable and learn how to reclaim, which helps make me a sustainable maker like most ceramicists.
But there is so much more on offer than ceramics! We have metal makers, bronze casters, jewellery makers, sculptors, wood makers, animators, illustrators, textile artists, CAD visualisers, climate justice warriors – the list is endless! Because of this diverse range of Makers you’re constantly learning something new, which I absolutely adore.
Field modules are another way of trying and learning new things. They give you the chance to work with students from the other degrees at Cardiff School of Art and Design, including Ceramics, Animation, Fashion, Product Design etc. This is such a great way to meet more people and learn new skills that you can take back to Maker.
One Field module also gave me a once in a lifetime opportunity – the chance to spend just under 2 weeks in Rajasthan. There is so, so much I could say but I’ll give you a few key words because the rest you can find out for yourself: the monkey temple, elephant poo paper making, blue pottery, chai cups, tuk-tuks, boat riding, safari, insanely good food, dancing in the street, accidentally going to the wrong Indian wedding, Sher the tour guide, a rotating restaurant, the students you meet at the Indian Institute Of Crafts & Design and so much more!
Going to Rajasthan raised awareness of how the same processes we use back in Cardiff have been explored and mastered by craftspeople all over the world who have been involved with the process since childhood. It helps you to take more of a practical and traditional approach to making.
Finally, one of the most intimidating aspects of university for me was the idea of what I’d do when it was time to leave. The Professional Practice module in third year has really helped me with this. It makes you think about where your career interests lie, and start researching live job applications to apply to. It helps ensure that you’re meeting job specifications and reaching your full potential, all with the support and encouragement of your tutors. This is just another element of Maker that I’m super grateful for, as what happens after uni was one of my main worries before applying to the course.
After speaking to friends that have gone to other universities within the UK, I know that I made the right choice with Artist Designer Maker at Cardiff Met. It helped me to push through so many of the boundaries that I set myself, and is most definitely the best decision that I’ve managed to make in the last 21 years.