University of the Arts London is one of the most prestigious art universities in the world, its colleges including Central St. Martins and London College of Fashion. Why would one of its students move from such an instituion to Berlin University of Arts? We spoke to painter Elizabeth Hepworth, who did just that, to find out.
Originally studying a BA degree in Fine Art in Wimbledon, Hepworth decided to apply to do an Erasmus exchange program in her second year. She chose Berlin because like many others, she had fallen in love with the city on visiting. “I’d never been travelling before without an institution or a family member. I was about 18 or 19 when I first came here, which is still really late for your first lone travelling experience, I should have done it sooner.
Losing my travelling virginity
Maybe that’s me wishful thinking, but it was a definite high point, so there was a romantic connection to Berlin because it was the first place I lost my travelling virginity to. It was really unbelievable and felt so free to be in a different country to my parents (not that I don’t get on with them)! I came here in January 2009 for the first time with a friend, and it was her idea to come here because she said ‘You love London, don’t you? If you love London you’ll really love Berlin!’ Then when I went to Berlin I realized maybe I don’t love London that much…” A feeling which many of us can relate to.
A picture paints a thousand words…artwork at Elizabeth’s studio. Photo: Chris Phillips
Despite there being initial hurdles in completing the Erasmus program, Hepworth got there in the end. She explained, “It’s supposed to be an exchange programme where you switch one student for another and no-one wanted to go to Wimbledon, so UAL said it wasn’t going to happen. I thought I’d send my portfolio anyway because I had nothing to lose except 20 quid on posting, which was pretty brutal at the time, but it paid off!”
Fight for your right
After a six great months studying at the UdK, Hepworth wanted to stay in Berlin. Following a brief trip back to Wimbledon, she began the process of applying to be a full time student. Not everyone was supportive of the decision though, “Wimbledon weren’t pleased about my switching, my tutors said because of my talent but it’s clearly because they get a certain amount of funding for every student who graduates.”
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