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Student Profile: Tools of the Trade

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TLC student Glen MacMillan is a welder and fabricator by trade and a carver and sculptor. He worked for seven years as a wheelchair technician. He loves his fishing, kayaking and the outdoors lifestyle that his home in Whanganui offers.

As a 3D artist working in wax, bronze and wood, Glen shied away from drawing and sketching. Part of the reason Glen wanted to study was to improve his drawing skills. He knew if he could learn to sketch out his ideas it would save him time and money, and he could make mistakes more 'efficiently'.

He enrolled initially at another tertiary institution, but after a week decided it wasn’t for him. His decision to study at The Learning Connexion was originally based on financial reasons. Our entry level Certificate programme was cheaper in price and the entire programme took six months full-time to complete instead of one year.

GM collage

Collage exchange (one of six) by Glen McMillan - Certificate Design project

The exercises and projects in the Certificate programme cover drawing, painting, 3D, printmaking and photography.

“One thing I really love about the programme is that an exercise or project is a starting point and how you interpret it is up to you and this is encouraged!"

Glen found this level of flexibility difficult at first as he is a literal person. He had to ask his mentor if it was okay to break the rules; her reply was, "Absolutely!" 

Glen took his camera to Bali on holiday, along with the Certificate photography exercises. He said it helped him learn the functions of his camera and how to create different moods within the photographs by using the settings of the camera.


Panorama/ Photo Journalism by Glen MacMillan - Certificate Photography project

For his photo-journalism project, he focused on a mined limestone reef and the ongoing environmental damage that continues 40 years after the mining happened. He took photos of the tiny beaches and smashed up coral. This project was a real eye opener and a good opportunity to explore a new subject photographically.

Glen MacMillan Profile

When I met Glen, he was in his last week of the programme and was installing a man-sized praying mantis on the school's front lawn. When I asked him about it, he told me he was walking past a landscaping business and they had loads of tools and scrap metal for sale outside including spades, rakes, pickaxes and scythes. Seeing the groups of tools sparked an idea; he put his welding skills to work and his ambitious sculpture ‘The Garden Variety Mantis’ was born!

Over the programme, he has learnt the importance of documenting his work. He hated to admit it to his mentor, but the process of drawing his 3D works has helped inform his work and is something he has adopted into his practice. Glen’s mentor, Donna King, lived in the same town and he was so into the programme that he did “way too many hours!”

“The mentor/feedback loop that TLC offers is absolutely vital. That constant feedback is outstanding!” he says.

When I asked Glen what he would say to someone thinking of doing The Learning Connexion's art and creativity programme Glen was positive.

“Just find a way to do it, whatever the challenges are; you won’t regret it. It is a unique opportunity with a unique learning institution. It’s about taking art seriously, it’s about creativity!”

If you’d like to enquire about studying at The Learning Connexion School of Art and Creativity, call us on 0800 278 769, or email us at admissions@tlc.ac.nz.


  • Ro Lusk
    23/06/2015 9:59am (9 years ago)

    I enjoyed reading your article Glen.Did you know that Chris Booth is organising a sculpture competition at Whare Puke, Kerikeri? The prize is $3000. I thought your Praying Mantis sculpture would look fantastic in their tropical Garden Paradise. I went to The Learning Connexion for four and a half years and thought it was great. Donna King is too!