Caroline Christie

Caroline graduated in 2012, here she talks about life on the course.

Tell us about your work

Cura was a collaboration between a group of student on BA Criticism, Communication and Curation: Arts and Design and BA Graphic Design, in which we produced a publication which explored the role of contemporary curation in everyday life.

How did you hear about Central Saint Martins?

I knew of CSM from its reputation and alumni. Originally, I wanted to study Fine Art and enrolled on a contemporary fine art degree at another university. I found the teaching methods and general level of education to be substandard and decided to undertake a more vocational degree, which is when I settled on BA CCC.

How would you describe your course?

The course was multidisciplinary, which is one of the key factors that attracted me. Based in the humanities, the writing styles varied from journalistic and copy to academic. In addition to handing in text, we were often asked to produce group and individual presentations and material for debates. Alongside writing, we also took short courses in web design and photography, which illustrated how the course was geared towards industry as well academic growth. 

The subjects we studied were varied, from English Heritage and the National Trust, to the anarchist argument in Harry Potter, zombies and capitalism, contemporary politics, architecture and landscapes, art theory and literary criticism. The course allows students to explore the discourse surrounding contemporary culture and design their own path.

The majority of the work was independent. In the first year we were in lectures two days per week, but as the course progressed, the focus shifted towards independent learning. By the third year, it was all independent study with intermittent personal tutorials. You only really get out what you put in and the tutors are not prepared to spoon-feed anyone.

All the support services at Central Saint Martins have been incredibly useful, but you need to go out and find them; they won’t come to you. My relationship with my tutors was good, as I engaged with the course. There can be a problem with communication between departments; student services and course teams, and at times I faced an insane amount of bureaucracy.

What sort of a person do you think you need to be to do well on your course?

When studying such a varied course as BA CCC, you need to have an appetite for a variety of practices and be prepared to study subjects you wouldn't necessarily have chosen. Every year, a few students come onto CCC expecting the typical Art History degree, but soon drop out.

Why did you choose this particular course?

The main factor was the University’s reputation. After that, I chose a course that was fairly contemporary, which engages with industry. Contemporary culture is an ever-changing field and I knew there were jobs out there, I just didn't know what they were, how to get them or even if they would be the same once I had graduated.

Did you get involved with industry or exhibitions on your course?

Whilst I was at Central Saint Martins I utilised every industry connection and opportunity that came my way. We regularly received emails from the course tutors and administrators about opportunities and internships. If you wanted a particular bit of help or advice, someone would point you in the right direction. For example, my journalism tutor advised me on pitching articles and even read some for me.

In the course itself, once a year we had a unit where we were put into groups and asked to present an idea for an exhibition to a particular gallery. The winning project then got the chance to realise their idea, with a realistic budget and mentoring from both the gallery and a designated tutor. Every year I was in the team that won the pitch and the experience has since led to a project with Tate Britain and other exhibitions.

Alongside opportunities driven by Central Saint Martins, most students were interning independent of help from the university.

What do you love about Central Saint Martins ?

CSM is great, if you're a self-starter. It’s a great opportunity to meet like-minded people, study under amazing tutors and begin the process of participating in London’s cultural scene.

How would you describe Central Saint Martins?

In the nicest way possible, CSM is a walking art school stereotype. If you want to meet creative people who are proactive and interested in their field, then I can’t see why you’d go anywhere else. Yes, there is a false sense of bravado that most students enjoy showcasing, but survive that and you’ll be ok.

What have your highlights been?

Highlights have been seeing famous artists hanging outside, having a fag whilst they wait for their lecture, seeing the outfits adorned by the fashion students on our first day in King's Cross, being exposed to a spectrum of new practices, ideas and texts. And having a halfway decent canteen.

What are you doing now?

I hope to work in a variety of positions within the arts. My course introduced me to the idea of having a portfolio career, where I can apply my ideas in a variety of formats.

About 30% of the class have gone on to study MAs at Oxford, Sotheby’s and Chelsea, all in History of Art. Whereas others are working in entry-level positions in fashion, marketing, music, curation, museums, archives and publishing.

Who inspired or motivated you?

All the obvious alumni, but I was more impressed by the variety of them. From fashion, fine art, graphics and film, the scope shows how creativity is nurtured in different disciplines.

How did you find supporting yourself in London?

I do a variety of jobs, not all in the arts. Part-time and freelancing seem to be more available than full-time.

How does the reality of studying here compare to your expectations?

It pretty much worked out 1:1.

Where did you go out?

I mainly went out in Dalston, Hackney, Peckham, New Cross and Elephant and Castle. Students rarely go to events organised by the student union, but we generally flock to the same house parties and club nights. I’ve been in bars in Dalston where I’m sure over 70% of the patrons are CSM students.

What did you like around here?

Kings Cross is great for a number of reasons; it’s close to transport, it’s got nice pubs, takeaway shops and cafes and in the event of a material/food/fashion emergency; the shops are nearby.