A career in financial services isn’t the obvious route to a degree in art and design.
But following the birth of her second son, Vikki Willson-Copland decided it was time for a change of direction.
Vikki said: “I started work straight after my GCSEs. I was keen to start earning money and secured a job in the accounts office for House of Fraser. After a while I progressed to becoming a financial advisor. I enjoyed working with people and the salary was good. I had studied art and design at school, and got my highest grades in these subjects, but it wasn’t until I was on my maternity leave with my second son that I thought about picking it up again. I decided I didn’t want to go back to a job that was so target driven and instead wanted to pursue something I really enjoyed.”
While working and bringing up her children, Vikki exercised her creative talents by upcycling furniture at home and running art classes at her son’s school. In preparation for this next phase of life she completed an A-level in art and design, before applying to join the Foundation Degree in Creative Arts and Design Practice at Banbury and Bicester College.
Vikki, aged 31, said: “I came to look round the college’s creative arts centre and I was impressed by the facilities. It had a good atmosphere and I decided it was somewhere I wanted to study. The course is hard work, particularly when you are fitting it around being a mum, but I really enjoy it. And if it wasn’t hard work it wouldn’t be worth doing.
“I am really developing my technical skills. I hadn’t worked with clay before, but I have spent a lot of time in the ceramics studio and I am about to show an exhibition of ceramic pieces. The programme offers simple ways of developing your creativity too – like experimenting with mark making by drawing with your left hand, or sketching on paper from the underside of the table. It is interesting to see the results when you put something into a new context.
“Above all, the course is helping me to develop different ways of thinking about and approaching things. I am much more intentional about the decisions I make, from initial concepts to final presentations. I have developed my approach to critical evaluation and these are skills that will be beneficial in any part of life.”
Having completed the foundation degree, which is accredited by Oxford Brookes University, Vikki plans to do the third and final ‘top-up’ year to achieve a BA Hons before pursuing a career in the creative industries.
She said: “I am keen to use my creative skills in the next stage of my career, potentially in interior design. I think having returned to education after being away from it makes you value it more. My experiences have certainly shaped my creativity and I am more focused than I would have been had I gone to university straight from school.”