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Student Stories: Catherine Levey

Catherine is from Nottingham, works in the NHS and is the parent of two teenagers. She recently graduated from the BA (Hons) Painting programme.

Here Catherine tells us about her learning journey.


What is your previous educational experiences and what drew you to OCA?

I gave up art after GCSE because of working in an intense medical career but picked it back up again 10 years ago when I saw how much fun my daughter was having being creative and I thought I'd like to do this too!

Can you describe your OCA journey?

I came in to the degree barely able to draw so it's been a steep learning curve. I accepted I had a lot to learn and soaked it all up like a sponge. The experimentation has been fun and I found the failures were just as much about developing as the successes and this is one of the most important things I'll take away from this degree...progression not perfection.

What was the Tutor and/or Peer Support like on your course?

Emma Drye and Clare Wilson have both been instrumental in encouraging me but also gently challenging when that was needed too. That's the way to keep moving forward, we can't see our own blind spots.

What does studying with OCA mean to you?

Having a degree means I can really believe I"m now an artist, it's opened doors to many opportunities. I held a solo show and a group degree show at the same time which gave me so much experience in networking, event management and curation. I taught myself how to structure public talks and make them interesting and that meant I was confident when I held a panel discussion on my interest [art and mental health] at Nottingham University last year. The panel was titled 'Can art change preconceptions about mental health problems' and I really enjoyed it. The twin brother of the artist I had written my dissertation on came to speak there and it meant a great deal to me he had made this effort. We are still in touch and he wrote me a lovely foreword to my exhibition catalogue.

What's next?

I've had success in getting work in exhibitions around England, as well as features in two publications including an interview in Flux Review 10.

Any advice?

Accept some struggle and frustration is just part of the process. At the time it feels a downer but these times are just as important for growth as the successful ones. Each module I've really experimented until I found something I enjoyed and worked and want to carry on post degree, I really found what I was passionate about....the portrait and figure.

You can view more of Catherine's work on her website and you can follow her on instagram @catherine.levey.

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