Kate Percival - BA (Hons) Fine Art

Kate Percival at Graduation 2024
Throughout her studies, mature student Kate, has overcome health challenges to graduate with a BA in Fine Art. She attributes much of her success to Gray’s fantastic community and says she can’t recommend it highly enough.

Kate, who lives near Westhill, Aberdeenshire, and is originally from Manchester, is graduating with a first class BA (Hons) in Fine Art, specialising in Painting from Gray’s School of Art

As Kate approached retirement, she signed up for short courses in Mixed Media, Life drawing, Ceramics and Printmaking at Gray’s, before taking the plunge and applying for a full-time degree in Fine Art. She chose to specialise in Painting, as she was impressed by the focus on drawing and the flexibility to include mixed media.

Gray’s offered fantastic facilities and she knew it had a prestigious reputation, having spoken to alumni and students who had shared rich and positive experiences.

Kate said: “Gray’s impressed me; it had a very ‘can do’ ethos and a strong identity across disciplines. I’d also seen first-hand the quality of the teaching and the supportive community at Gray’s.”

“My time at Gray’s has done what I hoped. It’s taken me round a corner to find a new world, one I may not have found on my own and one I can continue to discover. Gray’s gives you a lot of autonomy but there are always high expectations and a lot of faith - a great combination!”

Kate produced a stunning degree show project, and was awarded the James Smith Bequest Award for an outstanding body of work centred around spatial, dimensional paintings that are immersive and haptic, mixing 2D and 3D.

“My degree show focuses on ‘Place Setting’ and my practice is based on the idea and invented genre of Unstill Life.  I have created an ‘Unsafe Room’, that focuses on engagement, identity, and the dynamic that is human life. I use the lens of the past to consider the present and to tip us towards our future: the real, experienced, everyday kind of future. I encourage people to see the now: the tomorrow, this afternoon, in the corridor, round the corner. I want people to take away a refreshed way of seeing - subliminally and subtly by imprint, as well as through humour and provocation.”

During Kate’s studies, she experienced some health challenges but says the support she’s received from her tutors at Gray’s and RGU’s dedicated Inclusion Centre has been really helpful.

“I have some of the natural disadvantages of age and a mixed bag of physical and mental capacities. The Inclusion team and Gray’s tutors have been supportive. Help is always there if you ask: it might be something as simple as having a chair available or sorting out a parking permit! My arthritis, combined with a limited working memory, meant each day could pose different challenges, and could become overwhelming. This was not taken as a limitation – I was encouraged and felt everyone open and responsive. Some things are crucial when you are struggling; the lift, and the good humour and help from janitors across all staff and peers!’

During Kate’s third year, she took a studio at Deemouth Artist Studios, DAS, after placing herself on the waiting list. Now that she’s graduating, she’s looking forward to building skills further and developing the contacts she’s made.

“I feel I have the beginnings of a positive practice. I am involved with an exhibition, ‘Call Security’ a pop-up show taking place outdoors at Fetternear Estate stables, July 7, organised by the collaborative group ‘Experimental Use of Space’ who put on exhibitions in spaces where art is not usually seen. 

“I also hope to exhibit in the Scottish Ceramics Gallery, Regency Quay, as part of the Gray’s ‘24 Exhibition this summer. My use of the ceramic workshops in Gray’s through the duration of my honours year and before has given me confidence to continue in this discipline as well as Installation and Painting. I’d encourage anyone considering a degree at art school, to just go for it! Gray’s is a fantastic community, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.”

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