Moray School of Art students benefiting from a growing partnership with Art North Projects

A growing partnership with Moray School of Art and Art North Projects is already realising a number of exciting benefits for art students with ongoing plans for future collaboration.

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Stacey Toner, Curriculum Team Lead at Moray School of Art

Art North was established in December 2018 by current editor Ian McKay. Published in the Northern Highlands with a particular focus on contemporary visual art in the Northern latitudes of Scotland, Art North also supports practitioners through industry workshops, mentoring and marketing.

The initial collaboration with Moray School of Art began in September 2020 through the Morays Great Places project through which students and alumni were supported in the professional documentation of original artwork. The partnership developed further in December 2020, through the creation of an online degree show for students studying Fine Art and Fine Art Textiles across the University of the Highlands and Islands network.

The impact of COVID-19 meant that students were unable to host their usual annual final year show in the college in June and the event was postponed in the hope that a face-to-face show could take place later in the year.

However, when it became clear that this was not going to be possible Stacey Toner, Curriculum Team Lead from Moray School of Art, approached Art North with a view to collaborating on the idea of an online event. The move to utilising digital platforms had the added advantage of being able to bring together all UHI students from the same programme.  This is not possible with a number of physical shows due to geographical spread, but this allowed the creation of one show to celebrate the work of all graduates together.

The resultant exhibition included the work of 14 students from Moray, Lews Castle, Orkney and Shetland and was a resounding success with over 5000 unique visitors from as far afield as Australia, Canada and Mozambique. There are plans already underway to build on this successful partnership further by holding a second online BA (Hons) Fine Art/Texiles Degree Show in June 2021. 

This collaboration has created further opportunities for the Moray School of Art students. Ian MacKay will be working with third year Fine Art students in Moray, within the context of professional and industry relations, in particular writing about personal practice. It is hoped this will result in the featuring of student work on the Art North blog and/or upcoming issue of the magazine.

Stacey Toner has also been invited to be ‘Contributing Editor (Education)’ for Art North which will provide a platform for the sharing of arts-based and participatory research as well as articles concerned with developments in the local and national cultural sector.

Stacey Toner, Curriculum Team Lead, Moray School of Art:

"Our growing relationship with Art North is one that has huge potential.  From students engaging with live and relevant industry experience to readers far and wide gaining insight into local arts education and cultural developments, the partnership is mutually beneficial on a number of levels. In Moray we are limited with regards our exposure to galleries, museums and spaces that provoke creative dialogue; Art North, and in particular Art North Magazine, has become a tangible way for staff, students and communities to learn about those actively working in the contemporary visual arts scene locally, nationally and internationally.  For Moray School of Art and the University of the Highlands and Islands, the partnership is a welcome mechanism for retaining and building connection and a valuable opportunity in the context of audience growth and professional links with industry."

Ian Mackay, Art North Founder and Editor:

"Art North magazine is consistently committed to working with The University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) and supporting cross-platform initiatives as part of our remit to cast greater light on the visual arts of Northern Scotland. As Editor of Art North magazine, I view our collaboration with UHI as stemming from a duty of care that we have to maintain sustainable linkages with graduate programmes within the University and its outgoing cohorts. There are several ways that we have already offered opportunities to UHI’s graduates, but we are frequently devising more. Our aim is to support and encourage talented students and early-career artists when (during the global pandemic) they need our assistance most. In Art North’s leading by example, the initiatives we have developed to date can clearly be seen to have served as viable models for other organisations to adopt and adapt. As they do so, this, in turn, helps to spur us on to be ever-more inventive and proactive in developing still more ingenious initiatives - some of which we are soon to announce!"