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Fine Art Practice

The Fine Art Practice course is a practical art-making course offered by the Department of Fine Art for BFA students, BA students and Dip Fine Art students. BFA students study the course for four years, as do DFA students. BA students must major in the subject. Please note that Fine Art Practice is NOT available for just one or two years of study. (Please see Programmes for details about the structure of degrees.)

The Fine Art Practice courses introduce students to a diverse range of media and processes, both traditional and contemporary, enabling students to define and develop an approach to art making suited to their individual strengths and objectives. While emphasis is placed on the students’ acquisition of sound technical skills in the broadly-defined areas of drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, print media and digital arts, the course also aims to enhance students’ understanding of the conceptual concerns that underpin contemporary art making practices.

At all levels, teaching is conducted through group and individual consultations, briefings, discussion sessions, and group critiques. Studios are spacious and well-equipped with up-to-date equipment. Students receive focussed, individual attention, in the context of a nurturing and supportive environment.

Fine Art Practice 1 

This course serves as an introduction to critical art-making practices. Students are exposed to a variety of different media and processes. Through the course of the year students have the opportunity to create sculptures, paintings, graphic works, photographs, drawings and a video. The course is structured around themes that students can relate to, and project briefings are well-illustrated with relevant images of existing artworks. Students are challenged to experiment and to approach art making in new and exciting ways.

The course coordinator for Studio Practice 1 is Christine Dixie

Fine Art Practice 2 

The Fine Art Practice 2 course, taken by Fine Art students at a Second Year level, aims to build on the foundation laid by Fine Art Practice 1. Students continue to experiment across the different discipline areas of drawing, painting, sculpture, print media, photography and digital arts, but the course now entails an element of choice: at any given time at least two projects will be running concurrently and students are able to choose the project that they prefer. This elective-based structure enables students to implement and test their preferences for certain types of art making, whilst still exploring possibilities across a range of media.

The course coordinator for Fine Art Practice 2 is Rat Western

Fine Art Practice 3 and 4         

Having completed Fine Art Practice 1 and Fine art Practice 2, Fine Art students then define a major in the area of painting, print media, sculpture or photography for their Third and Fourth years of Studio Practice. This means that each Fine Art Practice 3 and Fine Art Practice 4 student has a dedicated studio space in one of the four sections. But making art in a contemporary context is not something ‘purist’, and students are encouraged to work across the various discipline areas if this suits their purposes.

At a Third Year level, students spend the first semester developing the necessary technical and conceptual skills to complete a series of projects. Thereafter students begin to define a self-directed area of exploration within their chosen discipline. At a Fourth Year level, students are guided by their supervisors towards a final exhibition which consolidates and concludes their four years of Fine Art Practice study.

Areas of Specialisation


In Fine Art Practice 1 and 2 the painting projects have been devised to introduce students to the conceptual possibilities of contemporary image making practice while at the same time encouraging the development of primary technical and observational skills. At a Third and Fourth Year level, students explore a wide range of possible ways of making and deploying images while considering the critical and conceptual possibilities of painting/image making. Throughout the course students are encouraged to develop their own field of interest and to develop a cohesive and coherent body of work for their final submission.

The painting section is housed in a spacious, open-plan building on the Rhodes upper campus. Studios have ample light and students have access to a fully-equipped workshop for the making of custom-built stretcher frames.

The painting section is headed by lecturer Heidi Sincuba.


During Fine Art Practice 1 and 2, students explore the principal printmedia of relief, intaglio, lithography and screenprinting. Students are initially grounded in traditional techniques; later emphasis is also placed on combined, innovative and experimental approaches to process. The acquisition of both technical skills and creative development are viewed as interdependent, recognising that familiarity with process allows an uninhibited commitment to image making. Professional practice and ethics, print curation and exhibiting, collaborative printmedia, studio health and safety, and environmental awareness are also covered.

The printmedia section is housed in a self contained annexe in the historic St Peters section of the campus and comprises six spacious, open plan studios with good lighting, safety and ventilation. The section is exceptionally well equipped to international standards, enabling the editioning of prints at advanced levels in any format. Comprehensive equipment includes three etching presses (one a large format Charles Brand), two direct transfer lithographic presses, flatbed offset lithographic press, an extra large format combination press (Dickerson), a stop-cylinder relief block press, large vacuum screen printing press, litho metal-plate ball grainer, metal guillotine, digital imaging computer lab, and full reprographic photographic darkroom.

The printmedia section is headed by Dominic Thorburn.


In Fine Art Practice 1 and 2, sculpture projects enable students to gain competence and confidence exploring a wide range of traditional and contemporary media and techniques including clay modelling, mould making, casting and construction. Second Years strengthen these skills as they contemplate solutions to theoretical problems. In their Third and Fourth years of study, Sculpture students journey toward formulating their own philosophy and approach to art making. New processes and materials are continuously being tested and integrated into the curriculum, allowing students to pursue technical solutions suited to their aims and individual preferences.

The sculpture facility is a contemporary multi-storied building sited in a scenic area of Rhodes upper campus. Students have spacious communal studios as well as dedicated workshops set up for carving, resin casting and ceramics. Students have access to an assortment of high-quality sculpting tools, two large kilns, and a fully-equipped workshop for welding and wood-working.

The sculpture section is headed by Maureen de Jager.


In their Fine Art Practice 1 and 2 photography projects, students are introduced to various aspects of photographic practice, including video. This provides students with a strong basis from which to engage critically and technically with the possibilities and problematics of contemporary image-making. In Third and Fourth Year, photography students are encouraged to explore the wide spectrum of photographic practice, from black & white to colour printing, video, computer-generated imagery and lens based installation.

The Photographic Section is located on the beautiful lawns of the historic St.Peters
Campus. It is a dedicated building housing a well equipped daylight and black-out flash studio and caters for both traditional colour and black and white analogue photography and digital photography. The colour and black and white darkroom facility includes Durst, Beseler and Chromega 35mm, 6x7 and large format enlargers housed in individual light-tight cubicles in a communal printing studio. The section specialises in colour hand printing and colour film developing and is one of the only photography schools in the world that does so. Traditional colour printing is done by hand using the Agfa Pro Colour Print Processor.

The photographic section is headed by George Mahashe.

Digital Arts

Digital Arts (DA) is a broad term that encompasses video, digital imaging and print, interactive installation, and online internet based art. The common denominator for this extensive medium would seem to be the use of technology but is more commonly the aspect of time, as perspective or two dimensional surface is to painting, or three dimensions is to sculpture.

In the first two years of study, students are exposed to several projects that familiarise them with both computer based software and with techniques of working with images in sequence. In the third and fourth year of a BFA students are introduced to more complex ways of working with technology and are thereafter encouraged to pursue their own preferred approach within the discipline. Students are also encouraged to work in conjunction with media from the other disciplines within Fine Arts. DA at Rhodes has a fine art focus and is not a course in applied arts or graphic design. The DA computer lab is housed on the historic St Peters campus sharing a building with the printmaking section. The lab boasts the most up-to-date Apple Mac computers which run industry standard software programmes including Fine Cut Pro, PhotoShop, Dreamweaver, Flash, Illustrator, Fireworks and Soundbooth amongst others.

The DA section is headed by Rat Western.

Last Modified: Wed, 15 Jan 2020 10:11:05 SAST