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Penny Efstathiou – Fine Art Practice Foundation Degree

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The smaller class sizes and support from my tutor on-hand if I need it, suited me much better than a large university setting. 

Penny — Fine Art — 

Having spent 30 years working in the hospitality industry, 57-year-old Penny decided the time was right to put down her apron and pick up her paintbrush to pursue a career as a professional artist, something she has enjoyed as a hobby for many years.

I think it’s really important to keep challenging yourself with learning and I think it helps to keep you young. If you really want to do something in life, you should work hard and just go for it. 

 — Penny

It’s been 40 years since Penny was in education but she didn’t let this put her off. With a little encouragement from her daughter, she enrolled onto the Access to Higher Education Art, Design and Fashion course at College and then progressed to the Fine Art Practice Foundation Degree.

Because I’m a bit older, there was a generational aspect, but at College you find yourself amongst a real diverse group of people of all ages and backgrounds, which I found refreshing. Plus, it’s been great to get a younger perspective on things. For me personally, I am far more comfortable and relaxed in a small pond’ rather than a big pond’, so the smaller class sizes and support from my tutor on-hand if I need it, suited me much better than a large university setting.”

Many of the lecturers at College are experienced professionals themselves, with great industry contacts, and plenty of opportunities for students to complete live industry design briefs, as well as the chance to exhibit their work externally.

I exhibited my artwork at the Djanogly Lakeside Arts Gallery last year, as part of the Harold Gilman Show, which was the most amazing experience. Lakeside is a reputable and established gallery so to have my work on display there was brilliant and something I’m very proud of.

My tutor, Tom, has a great network of people and he’s always willing to share his personal experiences as a practicing artist, as well as invite professionals into the College to share their knowledge too.”

Penny is a member of the all-female Bentinck Art Studios in Nottingham and in the future she’d like to apply to the Turps Banana Art School in London to gain even more experience and build her body of artwork.

The course has given me so much confidence and the opportunity to explore different mediums which has been great, but my heart is in painting and I’d like to build on the skills I’ve learnt to progress even further if I can.

Without this course and the experiences I’ve had, I don’t think I would have dreamt I could make it in the industry, but I think it just goes to show, that if you feel passionate about something and willing to give it a go, then nothing’s impossible and it’s never too late.” 

Discover more about Penny and her artwork on her website:

Looking for a change of career like Penny?