Alexandra Kane - BA (Hons) Fine Art

Alexandra Kane at P&J Live, Aberdeen.
An Aberdonian from Mastrick who has battled several health problems to graduate in Fine Art specialising in Painting. Alexandra says her journey to Gray’s as taken the ‘scenic route’, which has shaped her into the artist she is today.

Alexandra had dreamed about attending Gray’s School of Art since childhood. From a young age, she was captivated by arts and crafts, knowing deep down that an art career was her true calling.

Her decision to apply to Gray’s School of Art was driven not just by her passion for art, but also by practical considerations. As a local resident with ongoing health issues, it was crucial for her to stay close to family and medical care, so Gray’s offered the perfect solution.

“My journey in art began in Aberdeen, where I was born. I initially applied to study both Contemporary Art Practice and Painting. During my interview, I was asked to choose between the two. Without hesitation, I expressed my passion for Painting, making it clear that it was my preferred path.

“Gray’s state-of-the-art facilities and resources were another significant draw. I was particularly impressed by their well-equipped studios, digital art tools, and extensive library, all of which promised to provide an enriching environment for my artistic development.

“Moreover, the opportunity to learn from Gray's experienced and supportive faculty members reinforced my decision. I knew that being in such a nurturing and resource-rich environment would enable me to thrive personally and artistically.”

Alexandra’s journey to Gray’s was challenging however, as she battled a number of health problems. At the age of just nine, she was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder called eosinophilic esophagitis (EOE) that causes her body to produce too many white blood cells, which react to food as if they were allergens. The condition can flare with viral illnesses and stress and affect the autonomic system, which can make it often difficult to control.

As she grew older, Alexandra was diagnosed with additional conditions linked to her EOE, including Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) type three, mental health issues, and Sinus Tachycardia which is a faster-than-usual heart rhythm. These conditions led to frequent hospital visits during her youth, often resulting in month-long admissions.

“Despite these challenges, I refused to live in self-pity and continued to pursue my dream of studying art. My academic journey was not straightforward and could be described as taking the 'scenic route.'

“After six years of study, I applied to Gray’s School of Art but did not receive a place. Undeterred, I pursued an HND in Art and Design at NESCOL. Upon completing my studies at NESCOL, I reapplied to Gray’s and received an unconditional offer to do Painting.”

Alexandra says she initially found the transition to university education challenging but received unwavering support from her tutors.

“My experience at Gray’s has been a whirlwind. Transitioning from college to university education was initially difficult. I often struggled to find my footing and was filled with self-doubt during my first year and the early part of my second year. However, everything changed in the second semester of my second year, thanks to the unwavering support and guidance of my lecturer, Lyndsey Gilmour. Her encouragement to explore and challenge my abilities was life changing.

“With her support, I nurtured my skills in ways I previously thought impossible. I pushed the boundaries of what "painting" could be by experimenting with digital, three-dimensional, and alternative media beyond traditional painting. This exploration and freedom to innovate were crucial in shaping me into the artist I am today.”

A particular highlight for Alexandra during her time at Gray's has been participating in the BP Tutoring Scheme which has given her an insight into teaching at the secondary school level.

“My placement at Hazel Head Academy, gave me the opportunity to work with teachers and students across various year groups, including first, second, fourth, fifth, and sixth-year pupils.

“Working with such a diverse range of students allowed me to develop valuable classroom assistance skills as I helped exam-ready students put together their portfolios for grading, shared my expertise in design, and taught new techniques for creating and utilizing materials. Participating in the BP Tutoring Scheme has been an incredible and invaluable experience. It has reinforced my ambitions to become an art educator, giving me the confidence and skills needed to inspire and guide future artists.”

Whilst Alexandra’s health has significantly improved since her youth, she still had to take a gap year during her second year and fell ill at the beginning of third year, necessitating another gap year. Upon rejoining her third-year studies, she struggled with severe anxiety but with the support of the Gray’s community, she was able to continue her studies from home for the remainder of the year.

“After successfully completing my third year, I decided to face my anxiety head-on and rejoined my classmates for my final year. This proved to be one of the best decisions I made for my artistic journey.

“I found myself in an incredibly supportive year group with diverse interests and talents. The ability to converse with my studio mates and bounce ideas off each other greatly contributed to my development as an artist.

“Without returning to Gray’s studios and gaining confidence through interactions with my peers, I do not believe I would have the artistic voice I have now. My final year at Gray’s has been transformative and has ultimately shaped my practice into what it is today.”

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