Francesca Gagni

Students & Alumni. Fine Art.

Francesca Gagni with one of her artworks

Francesca Gagni is on the final year of our BA (Hons) Fine Art degree. An Italian national who emigrated to the UK in 1998, she is hoping to go on to teach fine art when she graduates.

Did you always know that you would go to university? If not, what changed your mind?

No. I enrolled at the University degli studi di Bergamo, Italy, to study Modern Foreign Languages, at the age of 20. However, my full time work commitments and financial circumstances got in the way, and I dropped out before the end of my first year.

After that, university had never been an option I contemplated until my HND Fine Art Practice. With the support of my college tutor, I changed my mind. My decision was primarily based on my career choices; this degree would open further teaching opportunities to me.

What made you decide to study at ARU?

I looked at another two universities within driving distance from where I live. ARU Cambridge was my first choice in terms of facilities, equipment, environment, tutoring and I particularly loved the printing room.

The second reason was a matter of logistics, as it enabled me to meet my family commitments.

What do you hope to do when you graduate?

I am investigating teaching courses at the moment. In an ideal world, I would like to get a teaching placement at a college teaching fine art practice, taking advantage of the college teaching training opportunities whilst working.

Francesca looking at her artwork on wall

What one thing inspired you to do get involved with fine art?

Artistic endeavour has been a part of me since the day I could hold a colouring crayon. The ceiling of my home village church in Italy is covered with frescos that I admired as a young child. My attention was captured by both the holy swirling figures filling the heavens, the darker paintings and frescos on the walls, and the statues of Jesus Christ displaying his heart. Plenty of material to feed anyone's imagination. The dynamic floating and standing figures from the church inspired my interest in figure drawing.

At college I was introduced to history of art; I was captured by the ingenuity of the human mind, from the Roman engineering to modern art. My academic formation is recognisable in the formality of my current art practice, albeit taking on a contemporary form, reflecting the socio-political context of our times. I have explored a variety of post-modern and contemporary artists, that have inspired and influenced my work, Jane and Louise Wilson, Deanne Petherbridge, Carlo Scarpa, Onya McClausland, Kwon Young-Woo and many others.

What's the most valuable thing you will take away from your time at ARU?

The confidence it has given me in achieving my goal. The prospect of entering 3rd Year at university to complete a BA Fine Art felt very daunting and I was afraid to fail. However, thanks to the academic support provided by ARU, my determination and hard work, I was able to complete my dissertation successfully and gain outstanding grades. I was surprised, but this experience proved that I have the ability to succeed.

Francesca looking at her artwork on wall

Which aspects of your course have most helped your career development, and why?

Dissertation writing. I felt that it was an insurmountable task. However, with diligence and right support I overcame it and I have learnt writing skills. It has given me the confidence to take on tasks.

For the same reasons, I feel I have achieved skills and knowledge in my fine art practice and professional developments, thanks to the fine art tutorials and lecturers. These are all important aspects that inform teaching, and fine art practice.

What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?

Choose wisely. Choose the right educative channel that suits you best and take all the learning help you are offered.

What is your favourite thing about studying in Cambridge, and what have you learned about the city that you didn't know before?

I have lived near Cambridge since 2005. I love Cambridge. It reminds me of my native town. I come from a town in Italy, Bergamo.

The hilltop of the ancient town presents medieval and renaissance constructions. My home village also presents an old part and even medieval ruins, which are certainly charming and intriguing. Hence, I have an appreciation for old buildings, and both Cambridge city and the Cambridge campus ones are certainly interesting.

What projects are you currently working on, both on and off the course?

At the moment I am solely working on my fine art major project module. My current art practice explores working processes and methods. My work is craft based; sustainability is at the base of the processes. I make recycled paper, which I paint with rust vinegar and acorn ink and I emboss it with geometric designs. In my work I investigate the concept of entropy and time, I engage with natural variables and I ponder on human frailty.

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