Beth Derbyshire

Meet your Course Director Beth Derbyshire

Could you tell us about what you do?

I am a practising artist that has been working largely in the public realm for over 22 years.  My practice explores the diverse nature of human presence and expression within social and historical registers. Themes have been: silence in society, conflict and collective memory, nationality and identity.

Recent works have investigated our cultural, social and political relationship to nature through a synthesis of voice, music, words and image. These multi-disciplinary projects use the metaphors of landscape, the sea and song to explore ideas around territory, nationality, identity and language borrowing from sources such as national anthems, myths, scientific terms and place names.

My experience of working across a wide range of contexts and on national and international platforms helps create an environment that teaches students how arts organisations, cultural spaces, visual and performing arts projects are managed in different social, political and economic environments. The course atmosphere is supportive and rich in a diversity of cultural pursuit, research and entrepreneurship. 

What teaching approach do you take as course leader?

The modules have been designed to create an integrated practice based learning approach, combining theoretical knowledge with process driven exercises undertaken in class. This is how students will encounter academic and theoretical training whilst being equipped with professional tools to help them complete their assignments as well as equip them with professional skills for employability.

The course has links with different organisations such as Selfridges, Ikon Gallery, LOB, The Rep and The Hippodrome who are internationally recognised world class leaders in their fields. The teaching and learning sessions enables students to understand current arts contexts and practices, arts policies and funding environments.  The course can also provide development for individuals who are mid-career.

My teaching approach is both rigorous and informal. Students are expect to work hard and take part actively in their learning but we also have plenty of heart discussion and fun along the way.

What is the philosophy of your course?

At the School of Art, we think about the future critically and reflect upon profound changes happening in society. This in effect leads to more choices for people and this can define what people are looking for in a live/cultural experience.  With whole industries now devoted to creativity it is harder for individuals to generate truly original ideas so unique and informed approaches to creativity is essential.  The course provides a space for students to discuss and find new associations between facts, concepts and events.

Cultural/aesthetic events are by their very nature relative as they will often be emblematic of values –something deeply held and personal and many people’s base their memories on events (both personal and public), to give meaning to the flow of time. The courses provide a platform to understand how to define and reach audiences within the context of these viewpoints.

The course has epistemological depth encompassing philosophical, aesthetic, historical and sociological inquiry and discourse found in the faculty and university. The Arts and Project Management course is fitting for now and as it gives students flexible skills to respond and manage aspects of contemporary culture which by its very nature fluctuates according to social evolution, technical advancements and cultural studies.

If you had to name one thing about your course that makes it distinct, what would it be?

The fact that your learning Project Management in an Arts school. You will be embedded in a creative hub and will meet a diverse range of people who are at different stages in their career. Students benefit from experts sharing knowledge from real life experience, access to a diversity of case studies and working on live projects (where possible) within local/national networks.

Why is Birmingham a good place to study/ work?

Due to the many Universitie’s there is huge and diverse student community. There is a growing and vibrant arts scene that has a wide range of contexts from hosting world class international artists, exhibitions and concerts to providing platforms for emerging cultural practitioners, many of these smaller spaces have been started and run by former students from the School of Art.  Birmingham is undergoing a huge amount a great deal of regeneration with new zones being created and the city and region hosts hundreds of festivals a year. Birmingham is brilliant located for access to London, Manchester, Bath and Bristol. It very affordable, very friendly and good fun and the Brummies’ have a good sense of humour!

Why do you believe its good to do a MA and why might students want to do your course?

Doing an MA provides you with an opportunity to gain specialist knowledge.  A master’s will give you an opportunity to really stretch yourself and go to a deeper level of learning. It will also provide you with multiple formative experiences and with that comes an alertness and confidence that will help you move forward dynamically in your work and life choices.   This course will give students the opportunity to develop transferable skills to create multi-skilled, innovative and industry-ready graduates.  The course aims to enable students to become engaged and resourceful individuals who will contribute to the creative and entrepreneurial industries in a variety of ways.

Where will the students be based in their time here? 

Students will be taught at the School of Art in a variety of spaces. The weekly lectures are given in a study room and the seminars take place in the art studios amongst an array of student work. We also will visit local galleries and exhibitions as well as trips to other cities to see nationally acclaimed exhibitions. We also have a strong partnership with Tate Liverpool and have access to their teaching and learning spaces which look out on to the River Mersey. There is also the opportunity to go on International trips to places such as Berlin and New York. 

What can students do to help prepare them for the course?

Do the pre-reading that will be sent to you. Do some research into where you would like to be post the MA course. Familiarise yourself with the city and go and see some exhibitions, concerts and theatre.