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Student story

Mikaela Marshall

02 August 2023

"Being able to apply these things in my everyday life is rewarding and makes it all worthwhile..."


Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honours in Sculpture

Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture

Library Assistant, National Library of New Zealand, Wellington

Having practised art from a very young age, Mikaela’s passions helped her to decide on her career path.

"Art has always been a part of my life, it is present as far back as I can remember," she says. "It wasn’t until the final year of secondary school that I realised I cannot do anything else if I am to live a fulfilling life."

Mikaela first completed studies with Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, but wanted to learn more towards her art, leading her to UC and the Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honours in Sculpture.

"I chose to specialise in Sculpture as that discipline is the most flexible. With a practice that is idea-driven, this openness toward material and form attracted and most suited my way of working.

"I have made many valuable connections in my time at UC, and I enjoyed the accessibility, I was so grateful for the 24-hour access when approaching those deadlines!"

In her honours year, Mikaela was one of three students to have their work purchased for UC’s SELECT annual art exhibition, earning her a $2,000 award.

"My study taught me, among other things, ways of seeing, to think critically, and to be open-minded," she says. "Knowing and being able to apply these things in my everyday life is rewarding and makes it all worthwhile. They are now part of who I am, and how I live and grow in the world."

Now graduated, Mikaela has now started work assisting users and maintaining collections at the National Library of New Zealand in Wellington.

"I work in a place surrounded by culture and people; I am always learning, and there are books, what is not to love? My job at the National Library and my art practice are my life, happily so."

She hopes to continue exhibiting her art independently alongside her current role, making sure to sketch when feeling "grateful and inspired".

"My love for my job and for my art are hand in hand, every day. I always carry a little notebook with me. Inspiration cannot be timed, and when a thought arises, it is important to put it on paper!

"Making art and selling yourself as an artist are two different things, though they must coexist if you want to exhibit and be known. The latter does not come naturally, but with drive and determination, it can happen, it is happening!"

Mikaela also encourages other Fine Arts students to realise that a career in art is all about devotion and enjoyment.

"Art is a way of life, it does not 'switch off' as you put your pencil down at the end of the day. Living a life lead by the heart can only lead to valuable things, and the possibilities are endless."

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