'Filmmaking combines so many things that have been a part of my life so I get a real sense of satisfaction from my work...'
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film
Master of Fine Arts in Film
Clara’s creative spirit meant she had some tough decisions deciding what to study after high school, torn between her love for playing the flute and creating art. When it came to enrolling at a university, Clara ultimately decided to pursue a Fine Arts degree and chose UC because of its prestigious School of Fine Arts.
‘Once I started studying here I realised that I had made the best choice, even if I didn’t necessarily know it at the time,’ she says. ‘I really enjoy my tutors and fellow students and how open the academic environment is to all kinds of ideas at the School of Fine Arts. Because the Fine Arts department is so small with limited entry numbers you get to know everyone on a personal level and it’s really supportive.’
Describing her passion as ‘something that has been with me my entire life,’ Clara found her studies offered a surprising variety of creative areas to pursue.
‘I loved the way that I could choose my own path. I choose what I do. If I want to I can make a work with an in-depth scientific backing or I can create something completely absurdist. As long as I was able to support my choices academically and execute it well I could do just about anything that I like.’
As such, Clara’s study focus changed after getting a taste of all the different fields a Fine Arts degree offers.
‘When I started my degree I had my eyes set on majoring in Painting. But after trying out all the different disciplines I fell in love with film making! I was really attracted to the idea of motion, music and art all in one. So I guess it really brought together most of my passions quite neatly.
‘Filmmaking combines so many things that have been a part of my life so I got a real sense of satisfaction from my work.’
Studying Film incorporates a number of different subject areas than Clara first realised.
‘Generally I’m doing a fair amount of reading, trying to get a good idea of the psychological, scientific and art historical influences that are important to my work. On the other end of the spectrum I spend several hours each day hunched over a light board drawing my animations, hiding away in the animation suite bringing those drawings to life and at my computer editing the whole lot together. Every other week I also work with the composers I collaborate with on the soundtracks.’
Despite her extensive efforts in her studies, Clara has also taken on a number of different projects outside of UC. She continues to play the flute and works and teaches part-time as a freelance makeup artist.
Clara has also won a number of scholarships during her time at UC. During her undergraduate study she was awarded the Lonsdale-Edgar Junior Prize in Drawing and later the Select Award, which meant one of her artworks was bought by UC to add to its permanent art collection.
‘That was probably one of the highlights of my time at Uni so far. To know that my work is represented with so many other respected artists was such a confidence boost.’
Clara was also presented with the Ethel Susan Jones Fine Arts Travel Scholarship, which funded a study trip to New York for workshops with Columbia University’s Sound Art programme.
‘This helped me to develop my technical skills and exposed me to some excellent international art and artists, including peers I can now look to for support and critique,’ she says.
She now works full-time as an artist, and has showcased her art in several shows all over New Zealand. Her biggest highlight of her career so far was winning a highly-commended award from the Parkin Prize Finalists Show, which was an achievement that she is ‘really proud of’.
‘I think having so much exposure to the art world while I was studying helped me to have the confidence to just go for it and not be scared of being turned away. I knew from the start what the realities of this career involved so there have been few surprises, I have felt more or less completely prepared.’
Needless to say, with her success in an unexpected field Clara advises Fine Arts students to keep their options open. ‘You never know what you might find,’ she says.