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Gary Mitchell

BA (Hons) Fine Art Painting

Progression Pathway: Access to HE Diploma Art and Design (St Helens College), BA (Hons) Fine Art Painting

"I would advise anyone interested in applying for the BA (Hons) Fine Art Painting degree here at University Centre St Helens to go for it. It is a nice, calm atmosphere and a fantastic place to be. You go up to the studio, paint and are transported somewhere else. Any troubles you may have had in the week are gone when you start painting."

Adult student, Gary Mitchell, kick starts his career change with University Centre St Helens, after rekindling his childhood passion for painting.

Gary’s journey to University Centre St Helens began when he was made redundant from his full-time job. Gary took this opportunity to pursue his passion for Art, something which he’d enjoyed ever since school.

Gary regularly attended evening life drawing leisure classes at St Helens College, delivered by tutor Fiona, who also lectured on the Access to HE Diploma in Art and Design. Gary enquired about studying full-time and was encouraged by Fiona to do so.

In 2015, Gary went on to apply for the Access to HE Diploma in Art and Design, which allowed him to progress onto the BA (Hons) Fine Art Painting course at University Centre St Helens, where he now has the opportunity to gain himself a first class undergraduate education in the heart of St Helens.

As part of the Access to HE Diploma course, students are encouraged to explore progression routes after their course which included a visit to Manchester’s annual UCAS event, where Gary took the opportunity to speak to other universities and discover what was available to him externally.

Speaking to Gary on his decision to study with University Centre St Helens, he said: “After having a look around and speaking to other universities, I got the feeling other facilities weren’t as good. I knew at University Centre St Helens all students had access to their own large studio space, which I don’t think I would have got elsewhere. You usually have to share studios. The space here is perfect for giving you creative freedom. You can hang your own work wherever and whenever. You don’t get that elsewhere and for me, that’s what really made my decision as studio space and the ability to exhibit one’s work is vitally important in a painting environment.”

Gary is now in the second year of his BA (Hons) degree and is thoroughly enjoying his time here. Something which he particularly enjoys are the smaller class sizes, commenting: “The small class sizes provide invaluable access to lecturers. In other universities you have to book in to see them, here, you knock on a door or literally walk up to the lecturing team and they will stop to help and support you. They’re truly excellent!”

Upon completion of his degree Gary plans to continue his passion for Art, with the ultimate dream of becoming an Artist, however, he is migrating towards teaching the subject as a future career, after being inspired by his own lecturers.

To anyone interested in applying for the BA (Hons) Fine Art Painting degree here at University Centre St Helens, Gary advised: “Definitely go for it. It is a nice, calm atmosphere and a fantastic place to be. You go up, paint and are transported somewhere else. Any troubles you may have had in the week are gone when you start painting.”