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Creating art for good in a changing world

10 December 2021

Master of Fine Arts graduate Hannah Watkinson cares deeply about the arts and the environment, and her years at the University of Canterbury have equipped her to make a positive difference.


Making the transition to university was straightforward for Hannah, who was born and grew up in Ōtautahi. In choosing where to study, Ilam School of Fine Arts at UC “came out on top” and staying local also meant she had the support of family and friends around her.

Once enrolled, Hannah fell in love with photography and was inspired by the many talented and supportive artists and lecturers she met at UC. Hannah particularly enjoyed her postgraduate studies and having the opportunity to work in a collegial way with her supervisors.

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 - Quality Education Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 - Quality Education

“My focus was a photographic area study of the Buller region of the West Coast. I did this alongside a supervisor within Fine Arts as well as Political Science, which was such an interesting crossover. Recently I published a book of this work, which was a nice way to round it off.”

While at UC, Hannah also found ways to contribute to her community, with volunteering becoming a big part of her life.

“I did some great internships, which are fairly crucial to being prepared for the real world once you leave art school. I got amongst the Student Volunteer Army which was rewarding and fun and since studying I’ve become involved with various trusts and charities around Ōtautahi in governance roles.”

Hannah currently manages Salt Lane Studios, an open and collaborative city arts space. In 2021, she was named as a 2021 Women of Influence Finalist (Arts & Culture).

Looking ahead, Hannah is passionate about further honing her practice, supporting community art spaces and making a positive impact.

“UC prepared me to be comfortable having fingers in multiple pies, which means I’m able to move with the changing ‘work’ world. I’m interested in continuing my study so there is a chance of a PhD on the horizon. Otherwise, working between art, local business and ‘for good’ organisations will keep me busy until then.”

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