Visual Culture Taster Day 2018

Professor David Crowley, the Head of School of Visual Culture

The National College of Art and Design, in the heart of the Liberties, is known for students doing lots of practical work. However, NCAD also has a course for people who are less interested in creating art than in learning about it.

“We run a programme in visual culture which is studying the development of art history,” says Professor David Crowley, the Head of School of Visual Culture. “We’re very interested in the whole range of practices that have to do with contemporary art and design today. The students that pick this course are academics; they are researchers; they’re writing essays; they’re not practicing artists”.

The college’s recent ‘Visual Culture Taster Day’ was a great insight into what a potential student on that course would be studying. The event started off with an introduction of the main elements of the three-year degree. This was then followed by a tour of the college where the potential students got to visit the studios, the library and other facilities. Refreshments in the college’s highly rated Luncheonette restaurant gave potential students the opportunity to speak to lecturers and ask questions.

“Writing is an artistic practice,” Crowley says. “We’re an unusual programme because they aren’t just typical essay seminars. There is quite a lot of visual creativity in our culture programme as students create exhibitions, organise events. We’re also building some new opportunities for students – like podcasting will be happening in NCAD – so a lot of new things are going on.”

Visual Culture is full time, with two and a half days a week in classes, tutorials and live projects, and independent study is a major part of the degree. NCAD offers Erasmus for study abroad, as well as placement in galleries and museums. As it is a niche degree, there are normally 15 to 20 people in the course, so each student gets to work closely with their tutors.

Areas the course covers include art history, design history, advertising, mass media, television, cinema studies and screen culture. How do artists create space in their paintings? What might the future of architecture be? Is more spent on design instead of safety? These are the sort of questions that students will find themselves considering if they choose to study Visual Culture.

The skills students will leave with a degree in Visual Culture are analytical, research, writing/editing, professional experience and networking. Knowing people who are working in the industry you want to be in will give you that extra edge to get your foot in the door of whatever career you hope to do.

Although Visual Culture does not directly involve creating visual art, there is still the opportunity to see how art is created. Instead of just seeing glass sculptures you will be able to see how they are made in the glass studio. It is a lively place, where people are doing and making interesting things, where there is not only professional practice but collaborative practice.

NCAD has been showing an increased sense of its place in the Liberties. “We have a gallery that faces out into the streets and we feel that we have a public function.,” Crowley says. “It’s not just about a library but connecting with the city itself. It’s got character and life. It’s got amazing buildings, really classic mid-century modernesque buildings, it has an amazing sort of history and culture here. The history of music in the city and performance is somehow folded into this incredible place.”

Crowley says NCAD and its Visual Culture degree can open your mind. “We think an art school is a place where a wide variety of things take place,” he concludes. “There’s an energy in an art school.”

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