To me, art is like a mystery which is to be solved. I see an artwork as the concentration of an idea or concept into a physical entity. The idea or concept is rarely evident through just looking at piece; it requires analysis or scrutiny to interpret it. This is why I am rarely happy with a piece of art unless I can see some meaning behind it. Whether it is my own or
another person's, I feel a great satisfaction when I discover an underlying theme or message; deliberate or not. It is like poring over a cryptic riddle or a puzzle for time until all at once it falls into place.
Perhaps it is my obsession with problem-inducing things: cryptic crosswords, chess, Rubik's cubes, poker, cribbage and scrabble that have induced this vision of art. It is the same either way. If I am looking at a Mark Rothko painting, Rothko has set the puzzle to be deciphered and I am attempting to solve it, even if the answer is as simple as, 'a perfect combination of colour'. If I create an artwork, it will have hidden parameters evident only by
scrutiny. It may be easy to interpret or it may be difficult, it doesn't matter. I don't mind if people don't interpret it the way I intended; only that it makes sense in their own minds and that it gives them that same sense of satisfaction that I get when I solve a puzzle. You could say that that is the ultimate motivation for the art that I produce.
This theme has also played a strong role in the work that I have been doing over the past year in my Art Foundation course. In the last 'self'-orientated project I focussed on my fascination with playing cards and chess combined with the physical aspects of my life. This has developed into my current project that concentrates on aspects of chance (chess, playing cards) combined, symbolically, with aspects of purpose (religion, gods, fate, strategy)
through many different mediums, including customised board games and sculptures. I am intrigued with hidden meanings, so I am looking at artists such as Joseph Beuys and Leonardo Da Vinci who are known to use a lot of symbolism in their work.
My current work has developed from many of the foundation course projects I have done since the beginning of the year. I feel that this year has been a significant indication of what path I want to follow in the future. I initially enrolled with the mindset of trying it out and deciding what to do later on in the year. I have worked hard at keeping up with work and have enjoyed being able to develop my own ideas creatively over the last two terms. The
foundation course has already taught me how to be broad-minded about what art can be, and the learning process has been somewhat enlightening. Ultimately I have enjoyed the course; whether it is experimenting with interesting ideas in my own space, sharing ideas with my peers about what we are doing or constructing sculptures in the workshops. Upon having wandered around the degree student's areas a few times just to look at the work that is being produced I feel a connection to what they are doing and what I am currently learning about and it makes me want to go further with my work. This is why I wish to continue on at the degree course. I believe it will challenge me and help me to evolve the art that I do to an even further level.
Since October 2007, I have had a Saturday job working as an assistant in a butcher's. This job requires me to make deliveries, clean the shop, serve customers, prepare meat and I often help out at the hog roast functions that the shop hires out. I have done my best to work hard at this, as it is the only proper job I have had apart from a paper round. Alongside attending
the foundation course I feel that it has made me a much more organised and confident person in terms of arranging my life. I have definitely enjoyed working there as much as I have worked hard at it. To resound the work I have done I have been offered more work at the shop and at supervising hog roasts during the summer.
Often the most challenging part of applying to university is writing the personal statement in the UCAS form. It's your opportunity to stand out from the other thousands of applicants that we receive applications from.
We want the statement to tell us about you, and what you want to study and why. The question is, how do you do this successfully and without sounding like everyone else?
We’ve put together some information on this page for those people that are struggling with their personal statement.
What is it?
The personal statement is 47 lines, or 4,000 characters (whichever greater), where you tell us why you want to study what you want to study, and why the universities you have applied to should make you an offer.
Who reads it?
The personal statement is read by someone that is making a decision on whether to:
- Make you a conditional/unconditional offer of a place of study
- Invite you to an interview
- Decline to offer you a place of study
Most statements are read by academics with a role called the 'Admissions Tutor'. These academics are specialists in their subject area. They have normally completed their first degree, Masters degree and their PhD (doctorate) in the subject area; they probably research the subject too.
The Admissions Tutor normally will teach, mark, research and do all the associated work of someone teaching. They have to make hundreds of decisions about who to offer a small number of places to. Making your statement stand out from the pile is really important!
Remember, most universities don’t interview applicants, and those that do base the interview questions, in part, on what you’ve said in the personal statement.
What should it contain?
- As a rule of thumb the personal statement should be exactly what it says – personal to you.
- It should be roughly 75% focused on the subject that you want to study, and 25% about your other skills and experiences.
- It should detail why you're applying to study the course.
- It should demonstrate understanding of the subject applied for and the skills that you’ll need to be able to bring with you, eg analytical skills or communication skills.
- About 25% of it can be about you. What do you do outside of the classroom? What do you enjoy? How does this link to the subject that you want to study, or show your readiness for university?
- The Admissions Tutor will be looking for your potential to succeed. They don't expect you to know everything already but want someone that is prepared to work hard and learn.
What do the people who read it say?
We’ve gathered some quotes from some of our Admissions Tutors who spend a lot of time reading statements.
"I like information in the statement that shows that students understands the subject that they have applied for and what using the degree professionally might entail after university."
"I like to know why the student has got to where they are now. If they have an interesting life story then they should tell it. However, if this has no relevance to the subject then it can put me off."
"I really like a well-structured personal statement; one that's easy to read and understand."
"The best personal statements that get to the point quickly and demonstrate real enthusiasm – I look forward to teaching these students."
Top tips for completing a personal statement
- make it snappy and easy to read – Admissions Tutors have many applications to read through.
- use line breaks in between paragraphs. While you may lose characters doing this, it will make the statement much easier to read.
- reveal your niche; tell us if you have a specific interest area within the subject area that you'd like to develop as part of your studies.
- present your academic reading. Quote or tell us about a favourite author, researcher or academic who shares your interests or inspires you.
- back up your statements with examples and evaluation. How and when have you been organised, motivated and inspired, and how did this help you achieve results?
- discuss your current studies and demonstrate how they are relevant to the degree you're applying for, subject by subject.
- talk about any extra-curricular activities that are related to your chosen subject area. For example, visiting galleries for those applying to history of art/visual cultures.
- check spelling and grammar. A well-presented and grammatically correct statement indicates that you can write for academic purposes.
- embellish the truth. You may get caught out if you're invited to an interview and asked about your statement.
- write lists – unless you’re listing technical specifications of programming languages or equipment that you have to use to complete the course, avoid lists.
- dedicate too much space to non-subject related content. We're interested in your extra-curricular activities that are relevant and because they demonstrate your broader skills.
- tell us you 'like reading' or 'like music' – if you’re not careful you can begin to sound like everyone else. It's better to tell us what you like reading and why, and how this relates to the subject that you’d like to study.