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Student story

Jack Banks

20 July 2023

"I knew that UC was one of the strongest contenders for best art schools in New Zealand..."


Studying towards a Bachelor of Fine Arts


Why have you chosen to study Fine Arts at UC?

I used to think I would study ja music at Vic, but in the last year I had a revelation that I wanted to do something that would impact the world. I chose instead to follow my passion in the visual arts and the power images have on the human psyche.

I knew that UC was one of the strongest contenders for best art schools in New Zealand, and it’s proximity to Blenheim made the transition so much easier. Generally, I knew that UC pumped out good academics.

How have you found it so far?

So far, I am loving the freedom to study. I’m not forced to work or anything, and I get to do it in my own time and plan out my days to accommodate for my social life. It’s quite overwhelming at first but once you get into the swing of it, it’s super fun.

What’s actually involved in day-to-day Fine Arts study?

You have to make sure you clearly understand how your week will pan out – BFA doesn’t follow the same timetabling schedules as other degrees, due to it having studio and tutorial groups running different disciplines.

I spend a lot of time after studio practical work in the BFA doing my readings for art history, so generally I’ll be in studio up to 3pm and then spend a couple hours studying my readings.

It sounds like you have to be pretty self-motivated. Do you have any advice for future BFA students from what you’ve learnt so far?

Get on top of your readings fast; they are super helpful to the context of your lectures, and if you don’t understand them, that’s even better – write down questions and ask classmates or the lecturer. Simply “absorbing” the readings is a great way to get ahead, even if you don’t understand them.

Everyone is super helpful, and at the end of the day showing up is what counts.

Looking way ahead, what kind of arts career are you aiming for?

I hope to end up in a gallery or exhibition, outside of UC-run ones. I think I’d like to be a curator or residential artist as well.

The thing with arts is that it is constantly changing, and I don’t think I’ll end up in one spot for very long.

Coming from Blenheim, you chose to live in University Hall, in one of the self-contained flats?

I was aiming to flat with some people but nothing really spoke to me, and I ended up having to rush towards Uni Hall only a couple weeks before study started.

I chose to apply for a hall of residence because of its proximity to the University, the potential communities I could be a part of, and how close I am to other like-minded people.

What’s been a great way to meet those communities?

The clubs. All the clubs host close to halls (usually on UC campus or thereabouts) and it’s a great way to meet people who have the same interests. It’s also a great way to get out of the house – and there’s plenty that will get you fit, and plenty that are really fascinating.

O-Week was also a great experience as it had a diverse range of activities – not just sports – so I was able to meet some cool people pretty quickly.

Were there any challenges to living away from home for the first time?

For me the biggest challenge was making friends. Coming from a small town, not many of my friends came with me to UC, let alone Uni Hall.

However, like I’ve mentioned, clubs are a great way to meet people, and I’ve started to surround myself with the people whose company I enjoy the most. I overcame my initial sense of loneliness by just putting myself out there, and not letting nerves get in the way.

Any advice for others thinking about staying in a hall?

I would say to make sure you apply early, as quite a queue can build up and you don’t want to be in a rush – especially if it’s your first time moving out. So get in early!

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