Distance learning student, Jacqueline Siegenthaler first embarked upon her love of learning by studying art & creativity from home through The Learning Connexion. After graduating from TLC in 2011, Jacqueline has continued her studies, becoming a tutor herself helping to teach stone carving to people with special needs, and is currently working on her Masters. We went and asked her a few questions about what it’s really like studying art through distance learning.
Where were you based when you studied with The Learning Connexion?
Hawkes Bay, in a very small village by the sea, nestled between Napier and Hastings.
Tell us about the art scene there.
Hawkes Bay has a lively art scene with lots of galleries that feature local artists. The Hastings City Art Gallery invite artists to enter the biannual East Show, (which is a great opportunity) and the Council regularly commission sculptures. The Napier Creative Community Funding Scheme is available once a year for local artists. In fact, I was lucky enough to get a grant through them to fund a sculpture project!
How did you find studying art from home?
Studying art from home offered me the ability to study and produce work at times and on days when it fitted in with my creative flow, in my own time and around family life. The flexibility of distance delivery study was perfect. I could work for hours at a time, or for a very short time, depending on 'where I was at', independent of fixed classes or timetabled lectures. As I live out of town, not having to drive to a campus was a real bonus and I saved on petrol costs and on the time driving there, not to mention this was also better for the environment!
What was your experience of the distance delivery option that The Learning Connexion provides for its students?
TLC’s distance delivery program is really well thought out and set up. For someone like me who is not very computer literate, I found it really easy to connect with other students, follow TLC’s regular news blogs and listen to art podcasts. The videos sent to me and the written information provided was brilliant. The first courier sticker supplied by TLC also made sending my work in really straight forward, especially as I could get the courier guys to pick it up directly from my home.
TLC's programmes are centred on a student’s personal creative goals and briefs. How did you find setting your own goals and working towards them?
“I absolutely loved TLC's student centred approach!”
Setting my own goals and creating my own briefs was fantastic. I could explore areas of my creativity that I had always wanted to explore, rather then being limited by set and provided for study options. Some of my ideas and goals ranged from designing my own studio, to revamping clothing, to doing a 'mini' apprenticeship in marble stone carving. I found it very exciting having these individualised opportunities.
How did you find working with a mentor as part of your distance study?
For me, it was really important to feel that my mentor was in tune with where I was at, and with my work. All of my mentors were absolutely fantastic at TLC! I loved that I was able to fill in a questionnaire each semester about what kind of feedback worked for me. This is such a brilliant way to match a student with the right mentor. I'm definitely a person that thrives on straight up/direct/blunt feedback and throughout my study I definitely had the perfect mentor for my type of personality. Your mentors are available via phone or email to answer any questions you might have between feedback sessions so I never felt ‘distant’ or that I 'missed out' compared to onsite students. Having such fantastic mentors throughout my studies really inspired a continual love of learning.
What aspect of TLC’s programmes did you find most engaging?
I found each programme had its own dynamics that really benefitted me in getting to where I am now. Diploma (NZQA level 5) was great for exploring various mediums and tuning into what disciplines I felt I was good at – or – not so good at. I rediscovered my love of drawing and decided that I probably might not end up being a painter. Diploma Honours (NZQA level 6) pushed me beyond my usual art practice and I explored creative areas I hadn't experienced before, like exploring design, fashion and sculpting. Diploma, Advanced (NZQA level 7) was where I felt I really had a break through. Nothing I've ever learned can compare to that year. I found that my habits of creating were turned upside down and I truly found 'new feet' to stand on.
What was the most valuable thing you learnt through your art study at TLC?
The most valuable thing I learnt was: if you have a training provider that has a real passion for, and knowledge of creativity, learning becomes super fun and is extremely rewarding. You will achieve great outcomes on multiple levels: intellectually, emotionally and physically. I also learnt how creative experiences become integrated and can transfer across into everyday life, and other fields of work or further studies.
How have you continued with your art practice since graduating from The Learning Connexion?
After graduating at the end of 2011 with a Diploma of Art and Creativity (Advanced) and a love of learning, I went on to study a Graduate Tertiary Teaching and Learning program through Otago Polytechnic in Dunedin, graduating in 2013. During those two years, I focused on adult education, applying my creativity within that sector.
In 2014, I began studying a Master of Design by Project with Unitec in Auckland. Since then I have produced new artwork, all of which is build upon the foundation and is a continuation of what I learned and discovered during my Advanced Diploma at The Learning Connexion. My Master's Thesis is: 'An investigation into the physicality of paint and its structural integrity by applying the techniques of crochet and knitting'.
Some of my work is currently exhibited in the a & e Gallery in Napier and I will look at the possibilities of entering some pieces into local and national competitions.
I can recommend Distance Delivery with TLC to anyone who would like to study art from home. We are really lucky here in NZ to have such a fantastic International Art School and the TLC Distance Delivery program can be studied from anywhere in the world!
Photographs by Sarah Horn.
Want to study creativity and art from home like Jacqueline? To find out more about TLC's programmes and distance delivery download a prospectus.