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NATIONAL ART SCHOOL Forbes Street Darlinghurst NSW 2010 AUSTRALIA t [61 2] 9339 8744 E w w ABN891 401 79111 CRICOS Provider Code 03197B

national art school degree programs

contact us enquiries @ Forbes Street Darlinghurst Sydney NSW 2010 Australia t [61 2] 9339 8744

photography by: Fiora Sacco, Mim Stirling, Olicer Strewe, Ellen O’Shaughnessy

why the national art school? on campus, in authentic studio * Be spaces, taught in small groups by practicing artists

at Australia’s national specialist * Study higher education institution for fine art

visiting international * Learn artistsfrom and have the opportunity to travel overseas yourself

of an artistic and creative * Be hubpart in an inner city location from FEE-HELP * Benefit 

* Join  a graduate community that includes many of Australia’s most renowned artists

* Get  the best start possible to your career in the creative industries

welcome The National Art School is a special place. Here we are committed to teaching the vital practical skills that form the basis for a career in the visual arts and creative industries. Equally important is the careful support we give to each student to enable them to express themselves effectively in their chosen medium. We can do this because our teacher to student ratios are very high, and the physical environment we work in is stimulating and supportive. We expect a lot of our students. Here you will have extensive contact hours, and will be challenged to develop your practice in meaningful ways with ongoing feedback from teachers and visiting academics and artists. This is an intimate place. You will get to know other students as you work in small groups, experience intensive weeks of tuition off-campus, and plan exhibitions and the annual Student Ball together. It is also a place

of opportunity. We provide a number of travel, study and internship opportunities through scholarships and residencies across Australia and internationally. You are strongly encouraged to explore what we have to offer. Come on campus and look around our studio spaces, gallery, specialist fine art library, and other facilities. Talk to teaching staff about your portfolio and your aspirations for the future. If you are passionate about art, and want to learn in an authentic, rigorous and nurturing environment, this may be the place for you. We look forward to welcoming you to the National Art School. Simon Cooper Head of Academic Studies

bachelor of fine art The fully accredited BFA program is designed to develop the creative independence, knowledge, and experience required in each student for a career as a professional artist, and to develop the academic rigour required for further study at postgraduate level. The program is delivered full-time over three years, and involves a comprehensive investigation of studio practices and theoretical reflection supported by individual tutorials, peer discussion and reviews. Specialist study in the studio disciplines of Ceramics, Painting, Photography, Printmaking and Sculpture is offered at this level. Drawing and Art History & Theory are core subjects that underpin the studio-based study throughout all three years of the course. In the first year of the program students are introduced to the foundational processes, techniques and knowledge of art making through study in each of the five studio disciplines offered at BFA level.

“The National Art School has provided me with an environment in which I can explore art making and find a personal voice supported by a knowledge of art history. I have the opportunity to refine my work, gain confidence in my ideas and receive valuable critiques from practicing artists.�

Eloise Rankine, BFA

Finalist Dobell Prize for Drawing 2011

In second year students undertake a studio major in Ceramics, Painting, Photography, Printmaking or Sculpture. The program is directed and structured to consolidate and develop skills introduced in first year. The year is project based, and provides opportunities for students to engage in the development of individual work practices. During third year increasing emphasis is placed on self-directed learning under staff supervision. The program is designed to accommodate teaching by example, under the guidance of individual lecturers, with students supported to work autonomously in their studios. At the completion of the third year all students present a major body of work developed throughout the year for assessment. All completing BFA students are included in the annual Graduate Exhibition held in the NAS Gallery and across campus.

Semester 2

YR 1

Semester 1

bachelor of fine art course structure DRAWING



Drawing I 9hpw

Art History & Theory I 4hpw

Studio Introduction 12hpw

Studio Elective 1A Studio Elective 1B Studio Elective 1C 12hpw 18 credit points

12 credit points

30 credit points

first year credit point total: 60

Semester 2

YR 2

Semester 1

DRAWING Drawing II 6hpw

ART HISTORY & THEORY Art History & Theory II 2hpw

Art History & Theory Elective 1 2hpw

Art History & Theory Elective 2 2hpw 12 credit points

12 credit points

STUDIO Studio Major II 16hpw

Studio seminar II 1hpw 36 credit points

second year credit point total: 60

Semester 2

YR 3

Semester 1

DRAWING Drawing III 6hpw

ART HISTORY & THEORY Art History & Theory III 2hpw

Art History & Theory Elective 3 2hpw

Art History & Theory Elective 4 2hpw 12 credit points

12 credit points

STUDIO Studio Major III 12hpw

Professional Studies 1hpw 36 credit points

third year credit point total: 60 BFA Degree credit point total: 180

art history and theory


Art History & Theory is delivered as a core subject throughout our undergraduate degrees. Beginning with an overview of artistic production from antiquity to the industrialisation of society in the nineteenth century, the curriculum continues with a comprehensive study of Modernism from Realism in the 1850’s to Pop Art a century later; the tradition of contemporary practice since the 1960s, including a survey of modern Australia Art; and an examination of the theoretical background to post-modernity. Our elective program offered from 2nd year onward offers study on a diverse range of topics including Aboriginal Art, Aesthetics, Asian Art, Architecture, Baroque Art, the Enlightenment, and Art & Gender.

Drawing is also a core subject at the National Art School. With at least one day per week devoted to drawing, students are guided in the development of a broad range of techniques and media aimed at supporting individual study in all Studio Major subjects. Our rigorous program includes engagement in the studio conventions of observational and life drawing, through to exploration through installation, abstraction and new media which support the development of the individual development of each student. At BFA Honours level, Drawing is offered as a Studio Major subject where increasing emphasis is placed upon independent learning through student initiated studio practice.

ceramics To work creatively with clay is to engage with the elements of earth, fire, air and water, in combination with intellectual and practical skills. The hands-on emphasis of our Ceramics program encourages students to explore and develop a wide range of skills and technical knowledge across the temperature spectrum from raku to porcelain. Our Ceramics studios and workshops are among the best equipped in Australia, and provide an ideal environment in which individual student learning is nurtured through the development of studio practice and specialisation in ceramics.



In painting we encourage student development through experimentation and innovation in studio practice based upon solid foundational learning of the history and traditions of painting. An informed knowledge of the procedures involved in the creative process is deemed fundamental to the broader appreciation of the role and function of painting today. From the first year of the BFA, which offers an introduction to fundamental the materials and techniques of painting, and the development of visual literacy of colour, tone and composition, the Painting program progresses toward the development individual practice through staff directed projects balanced that increasingly accommodate individual student learning.

In Photography we offer in-depth instruction in a diverse range of practical skills and theoretical understanding. The BFA program introduces students to all aspects of photographic practice from traditional analogue camera and darkroom techniques to contemporary digital imaging processes using Photoshop and advanced digital printing. Through structured projects integrated with studio demonstrations, tutorials, critiques and excursions to relevant exhibitions, students are encouraged to broaden both their technical skill and their understanding of the history and theories of photography. As students progress, increasing emphasis is placed upon individual experimentation and investigation, which fosters individual artistic development, creative confidence and critical awareness.



From the middle of the 15th century when Guttenberg’s printing press revolutionised culture, through the 1960’s where Andy Warhol’s screen-prints shook up the art world, Printmaking continues to play a vital role in art and culture of our age. Teaching in our printmaking studios combines technical instruction and critical discourse that direct students toward the discovery of a personal visual language. The BFA course covers the full range of printmaking processes including relief, intaglio, screen-printing, lithography and digital output. Working with a variety of media, students create a wide range of images and objects that can include multiples, artist’s books, site-specific pieces and traditional prints.

Our Sculpture program aims to provide students with the maximum opportunity to explore and understand the traditions of sculpture. Through exercises in carving, modelling and construction students learn technical skills, which enable them to realise their sculptural goals. With an understanding of methods and materials students are able to exercise their imagination and explore in greater depth the creative process. The development of sculptural sensibility is nurtured through critical engagement with their endeavours.

bachelor of fine art (honours) The fully accredited BFA (Hons) program is a full-time studio-based degree delivered over one academic year. It is designed for students who have completed a three-year BFA degree or equivalent, and offers the opportunity to focus and further develop individual studio practice. The program introduces students to a studio research environment by developing their ability and autonomy as emerging professional practitioners in the visual arts. The BFA(Hons) comprises three inter-related subject streams: a Studio Major (nominated from the disciplines of Ceramics, Drawing, Painting, Photography, Printmaking or Sculpture); supported by a weekly Studio Seminar program: and Art History & Theory lecture series. The course is delivered on campus, where students are provided with dedicated studio facilities. BFA (Hons) students have the opportunity to extend their abilities in the following areas:

“The focus on drawing provided a core for the development of my practice, and is crucial to any artists discipline. The variations in influence strengthened my practice and gave me the opportunity to connect to an older knowledge, which will have an ever-lasting effect on my work.�

Kyle Murrell, BFA Hons Clitheroe Foundation Scholarship 2012

* Technical and conceptual skills * Aesthetic and critical judgement istorical, contemporary and theoretical * Hcontexts relevant to individual * Art practice * Studio practice and management of materials

“Fundamentally, my artistic education at NAS, culminating in my Masters candidature, facilitated the ability to express the world I find around me rather than merely to paint pretty pictures.

master of fine art The Master of Fine Art (by Research) program is designed for practicing artists who wish to develop specific research interests in their studio production, and work towards a higher level of professional expertise. The program is delivered over two 48 week academic years in a full-time study mode or an equivalent part-time duration. MFA candidates propose and undertake the development of a studio research project in a selected studio discipline. The MFA exemplifies the School’s central belief in the studio model of learning that promotes dialogue between studio practice and theory. The MFA candidate is expected to produce a highly developed and resolved body of work and a supporting written document which provides a critical context for their studio practice. Studio disciplines offered include: Ceramics, Drawing, Painting, Photography, Printmaking and Sculpture. Each MFA candidate’s studio research is selfdirected in consultation with assigned supervisors whose own practices and experiences are relevant

The school’s unique environment provided the diverse network of expertise and influences necessary to contextualise my own practice within the broader historical and contemporary artist landscape.” Giles Alexander, MFA Finalist Archibald Prize 2013

to the candidate’s project. The research project demands autonomous studio investigation and theoretical reflection, with support, guidance and critical comment provided through individual tutorials, formal studio critiques, peer discussions and reviews. In addition to the studio research program, * regular symposia, in the form of lectures, seminars and candidate presentations are held during each academic year in order to provide candidates with an additional support context for the development of their studio research.

student support and facilities The National Art School occupies the site of the old Darlinghurst Gaol, a remarkable and beautiful colonial landmark located just minutes from the CBD. Public transport and purpose built cycle –paths make the School easily accessible from neighbouring suburbs and beyond. Once on campus the National Art School Library and Learning Centre provides specialist resources to facilitate the study, research and practice of visual art, and the NAS Gallery presents an extensive exhibition program throughout the year encouraging appreciation and critical understanding of art through direct engagement with artists and original works of art. Students are catered for by our on-site cafe, and art store. Student Services provides a comprehensive range of support for students on academic and administration related issues throughout the year. From orientation to graduation, our dedicated team situated in the centre of the campus is there to help.

The National Art School also maintains a counselling service on campus to contribute to the development and well-being of students. This includes support and direction in: study skills, stress management, family and relationship concerns, health matters and vocational goals. Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact us following enrolment to discuss support needs.

“The National Art School was a big influence on my life – it was the beginning of my life as a painter, and the beginning of many friendships”

Elizabeth Cummings 2004

national art school history The origins of the National Art School can be traced back to the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts which was founded in 1833. In 1843, the first drawing classes were conducted by John Skinner Prout, and a French artist, Lucien Henry was appointed as the first Lecturer in Art in 1879. In 1883, the Board of Technical Education took over the former Mechanics’ School of Arts, and in 1892, art classes were moved to Ultimo House in Harris Street and the School became known as the Sydney Technical College. The School remained there until 1922, when it was transferred to the old Darlinghurst Gaol site at East Sydney. The art department at East Sydney gained a new impetus in 1923 when English sculptor Rayner Hoff arrived and helped to establish a five-year Diploma course in 1926. It was in this year that the name ‘National Art School’ was first used in relation to a student exhibition. The focus of the National Art School on the ‘atelier method’ of teaching, was reinforced during the 1950s and 1960s Drawing formed the core of the program

“We knew we were privileged people being at the Tech during the war in the 1940s – we worked hard, but for me it was like heaven on a stick”

Margaret Olley 2004

and small classes were taught by practicing artists who were leaders in their fields. The survival of the art school was threatened in 1974, when the Department of Technical and Further Education (TAFE) pushed for reforms that saw the Division of Fine Art merged into a new College of Advanced Education in Paddington (COFA). Despite this upheaval, the NAS was gradually rebuilt, and for almost two decades advocates for the School lobbied for full independence, which was finally achieved with the help of the premier, Bob Carr in 1996. Then in 2009, the Hon. Verity Firth, the NSW Minister for Education, announced that the National Art School would be released from government management and registered as a public company limited by guarantee, while remaining as sole occupant of the old Darlinghurst Gaol site. With true independence finally achieved, the National Art School continues to produce many successful graduates who, through their ongoing achievements, contribute significantly to the vital artistic and creative cultural life of Australia.

Many of the key figures in the history of Australian art and contemporary art practice are former teachers of the National Art School.

John Olsen AO OBE, Martin Sharp, Fiona Hall, John Coburn AM, Elisabeth Cummings OAM, James Gleeson AO, Colin Lanceley AO Guy Maestri, Margaret Olley AC, Peter Rushforth AM, Julie Rrap, Max Dupain AC OBE, Tim Storrier AO, Thanacoupie AO and Guy Warren OAM all started their careers at the School, and many have returned to teach and mentor subsequent generations of students.

professional opportunity The National Art School offers a range of extended professional opportunities to degree program students including internships, scholarships, and connections with industry.

Anna Cuthill (BFA Honours candidate in photography) is the recipient of the Bird Holcolmb scholarship. “The Bird Holcomb Foundation Scholarship has opened up so many new possibilities for me to experiment and extend my practice as an emerging artist in my most crucial and final year of study. The scholarship has enabled me to enter the art world post-study with a heightened level of professionalism in my resources and with a more confident approach to resolving ideas by allowing me to develop processes openly and without constraints. Thank you Bird Holcomb!� The National Art School immediately struck me as a place for discovering new outlooks in relation to my then egocentric self and to the Sydney vibe.

Federico Vivarelli Colonna (BFA Honours graduate) received the Hospiz Residency Austria Award.

Elliott Nimmo (BFA and BFA Honours graduate, currently enrolled in full time Masters program for painting) undertook a commission with Gadens Lawyers. “The Gadens portrait commission was special in many ways. I had only been back in Australia a day (having spent 2 months on a residency in London) when I got an email requesting a meeting with some of the partners. The following week, I met with Gadens and had a sitting with the subject, Hugh Kimlin – a much loved and devoted member of the Gadens team. While I have painted for the Archibald and Moran prizes for several years, and done commissions before, this has been my first ‘corporate gig’. It was such a great experience to be given carte blanche on this project, to depict my vision of Hugh. I feel incredibly privileged and encouraged by this commission, to both Gadens and the School - and for their ongoing support of my career.”

“My idea of art I have to be honest was very “naïf” and still is in many ways, this I believe to be a strength. What the school did not destroy was my dream, but that was also up to me not to take criticism too personally. The school taught me how to think, research my ideas, and look at my goals under a more realistic light. Shaping “my dream” made me feel more connected with the “contemporary outside” and taught me not to hide from it. The rest was up to my will, grit and perseverance. My commitment, I felt, was met by my lecturers. As long as I asked they answered and were always available. My experience at the Hospiz Arlbeg in St Christoph, Austria, where I had been awarded a residency, put me in connection with a whole new range of ideas and people from different backgrounds, working in different ways. It all confirmed that I had never really understood “what makes you an artist?”, and “what is art?” – what I can say is that the less I think about those questions the more I feel I mature in what I do, avoiding the real “naïf” questions.”

how to apply be informed Come to the School’s Open Day, talk to staff and look round the studios. See the work produced by students at our end of year graduate shows, or all year round in exhibition spaces. More information at

make an application You’ll need to complete our application form and attach relevant documents. All information is at

prepare for interview Interviews take place on campus in early December. This is your opportunity to talk about your art practice, and why you want to study at the National Art School. We look at your portfolio and discuss how you see your work developing. You’ll also sit a drawing test in one of our studios. Your drawing is evaluated for potential, not current skill level.

if you are successful If we offer you a place you will receive a letter inviting you to enrol.

contact us enquiries @ Forbes Street Darlinghurst Sydney NSW 2010 Australia t [61 2] 9339 8744

photography by: Fiora Sacco, Mim Stirling, Olicer Strewe, Ellen O’Shaughnessy

NATIONAL ART SCHOOL Forbes Street Darlinghurst NSW 2010 AUSTRALIA t [61 2] 9339 8744 E w w ABN891 401 79111 CRICOS Provider Code 03197B

national art school degree programs

National Art School Prospectus  
National Art School Prospectus  

The fully accredited Bachelor of Fine Art program is designed to develop the creative independence, knowledge and experience required in eac...