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Posted 06.07.17

Vancouver to Plymouth: in conversation with exchange student Katelyn Mikkola

By Kat Peberdy

River Cup, Katelyn Mikkola

A new exchange programme with the Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver, Canada’s most prestigious art school, has been introduced to allow students the opportunity to develop their engagement with the artistic community across the globe.

We catch up with Katelyn Mikkola, the first exchange student from Emily Carr University to join us here at the college, to chat about her experience working in our dedicated glass studios and why she made the 4,500-mile trip to study in Plymouth.

Hi Katelyn, tell us a little about your background and your work?

Hello, well I’m in my 3rd year as an undergrad student at Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver, where I major in Fine Arts with a focus on ceramics.

I make both functional and sculptural ceramics, as a student, I am constantly experimenting with new techniques and processes for making. Right now I’m interested in the way texture influences the way people interact with tangible objects.  

Katelyn's work at our annual Degree Shows, an exhibition that highlights the work of our graduating students

So what brought you to Plymouth to study as an exchange student on our BA (Hons) Ceramics & Glass course?

I applied to go on the exchange because I wanted a change of pace, I’ve never lived anywhere outside of my hometown. What initially drew me to Plymouth College of Art was the opportunity to work with glass, a material that Emily Carr does not have the facilities for. It was important to me that the college took a lot of pride in their ceramics and glass workshops.

When I was looking into which universities I wanted to apply for many of them seemed to ignore more traditional crafts in favour of promoting their facilities to digital technology, the college offered both and saw them as equally important and saw the value in how they can work together. I also liked that it’s a small university in a small city, my commute has gone from an hour and a half on the sky train/bus to a 15-minute walk!

“This exciting new collaboration with Emily Carr University is a reflection of the distance the college has travelled, not only in geographical terms, but in the international reach of our recognition in the UK, Europe and beyond.”

- Ian Farren, Associate Dean of Academic Development & Head of the Graduate School and International

That sounds like a nice change of pace! How would you describe the differences between studying at Plymouth College of Art and at Emily Carr?

One of the biggest differences between studying at Plymouth College of Art and Emily Carr is how interwoven the courses are here. I love how the studios are open to students specialising in other disciplines, and that students are encouraged to take advantage of all of the different facilities available.

It’s an interesting environment to be part of, even just being able to see what students working in other materials are making and having conversations has been really exciting. At Emily Carr the workshops are quite removed from each other, if you’re not taking a ceramics course you don’t have access to the ceramics studio, same with printmaking, photography etc, you don't get to move around as much.

Object Study (left) and Water Jug (right), Katelyn Mikkola

How do you expect this change of studio environment to influence your work?

I think after this experience I will try to incorporate different materials into my work, I’d like to find a way to continue exploring with glass.

Finally, if you could make your work anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I would have to say one of the Gulf Islands off the coast of British Columbia - a little secluded and surrounded by nature.

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The recently agreed MOU with Emily Carr University will also allow students enrolling at Plymouth College of Art the opportunity to spend a semester in Vancouver, tapping into a new creative network and community that will have a lasting positive impact on their course and their career.