A day in the life of a Fine Art student

From editing in the studio, meeting with artists and working in the gallery, Ellie Turner describes how no day is the same when studying Fine Art at UCA Farnham.

22 Jan 2019

As a third year Fine Art student, I’m always busy planning projects and writing. Generally, Mondays and Tuesdays are filled with important lectures for our ‘Realising Professional Practice’ Unit, where we apply to open calls, jobs and postgraduate courses in prep for life after uni. Wednesday is our ‘study day’ AKA day off, however for the most part everyone is in the studio making, building or having dissertation meetings. Thursday is a lot like Wednesday but with the steady on-set panic for the end of the week.

Today, Friday, artist Ben McDonnell is coming in to plan and chat at 2.00pm. He is the second artist this academic year showing at ‘Black Box’, a curatorial project space me and a group of peers manage in addition to our study units for Fine Art. Something that we all find loads of fun, it taught us important skills like curating, fundraising, liaising with artists and general organisational skills. Despite Friday also being a ‘study day’ it is by far one of the busiest, with everyone tying up what they started on Monday or on-going projects.




I wake up and look for the will to live — just kidding! I lay in bed for an hour scrolling through Instagram and answering any important emails.


I get out of bed. I always eat in the morning because I’m always so hungry. I eat leftover dinner from the night before and make food to take with me, saving me money to go out on the weekend. Getting ready super quickly, I have my routine down to a ‘T’ and leave the house at 9.30am to get in for 10am. I walk in with one of my best mates Jenny and we meet two more friends on the way.


Every Monday we start at 9.30am and receive our briefing for the week. Although the projects are self-directed, we meet with our Course Leader who tells us about any upcoming deadlines or events coming up. For example, on Tuesday we had a visit from an artist studying for their PhD at the Royal College of Art.

On all the other days we aim to get in for 10.00am. Today we went to photocopy our passports ready for a class trip to Berlin we’re going on soon. As a class, we’re always getting out and about, seeing shows in London and once a year we go abroad. Last year we went to the Venice Biennial — it was amazing!

After a trip to equipment hire to pick up a camera for the day, I start making. I’ve been working on a karaoke installation for an exhibition at Chelsea School of Art I’m taking part in. Since Monday I’ve been editing my life away on Premiere Pro which I learnt to use from YouTube and workshops during my first year.


Risk assessments in Fine Art are second nature. Like most of the courses at UCA, any projects that require taking equipment off-site or risqué artworks need to be checked first. I’ve been finishing off the assessment for taking equipment off site for the exhibition at Chelsea.


Before an artist visits, we have a meeting where we discuss all our ideas of what we need to go through with them. (And scheming to take over the world…)




The visiting artist, Ben McDonnell, comes in and tells us about what he’s creating for Black Box. We do some planning and liaising around dates and times, which are all important skills for our future careers. It’s a great opportunity to chat about our practice and our futures to an artist outside of UCA.

New artists typically come and show every three weeks, then the process starts again! We were chatting for a good two to three hours, finalising our plans for when he comes in Tuesday to start making the work with our help.


Back to editing karaoke, slowly going mad but enjoying it.


I leave the studio every day at 5.20pm — the structured day ends at 4.30pm but normally everyone stays until a bit later. I have a part-time job in Farnham town for an hour and half, Mondays and Fridays, so I stay working in the studio (more editing) then start work at 5.30pm. Personally, I find it easier working in the evening than a block day because it means I can dedicate my weekdays to being at uni. Sometimes I work at the weekends as a gallery assistant in UCA’s James Hockey gallery, but for the most part I have my weekends free to do whatever — fab!


The weekdays are normally very long, but it’s always really rewarding and I wouldn’t change it. When I finally get home I eat everything!Normally my mate Karl is round before I get in and has already started making food. We do a trip to Sainsbury’s together to get snacks, and then my boyfriend makes us all watch a random film which I always end up falling asleep to.

My days at uni are always different and it never gets boring!

Thank you for reading.

— Ellie