Originally from Singapore, Claudia Tan still cannot get over the fact that she is now well-versed in art history – a subject she had long been eager to take up at university.
A final year School of Design student, Claudia leads the first student-led Cultural Ambassadors Program, but her artistic journey had a somewhat unorthodox beginning.
“I didn’t grow up in an artistically-minded household. I was introduced to the world of art history during my high school years in Perth through documentaries presented by the UK art historian and television broadcaster Andrew Graham-Dixon.
“I was completely enthralled at the way art was demystified. Not only have I been fascinated by art history ever since, but it has also made me deeply appreciate accessible modes of communicating knowledge and diverse narratives,” Claudia says.
Being an art history student with a second major in Chinese, Claudia values both the linguistic and critical visual literacy skills that her studies have brought together. This, along with her passion for sharing art with others, motivated her to complete a work placement with the Cultural Precinct through the Professional Experience Practicum.
The Work Integrated Learning program has allowed Claudia to set up the framework for the Cultural Ambassadors Program. The new initiative consists of a student advisory group, which recently recruited students passionate about arts and culture in order to shape creative events and campaigns on campus.
With a helping hand from the Cultural Precinct, one of the projects the student-led initiative is looking at is introducing interdisciplinarity in arts – having students from multiple disciplines become exhibition guides to offer their perspective on artworks displayed in the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery.
“We are particularly keen to explore the multi-use of the gallery space and its potential for being an experimental space for cultural conversations among students and for student-specific arts events.
“As a student-run initiative, I believe there is a lot of potential to shape not only the way students engage with arts on campus, but the way the arts are perceived in light of students’ interests and academic disciplines,” she says.
Being immersed in a working environment at the Cultural Precinct has helped Claudia appreciate how different it is from an academic environment.
“I really enjoyed working in such a vibrant environment and the opportunities it provided to develop various practical skills including project management and communication.
“This helped me see the potential ways initiatives like the Cultural Ambassadors Program can help build more bridges between UWA’s cultural assets and the student community,” she says.
Now that Claudia is on a culture roll it’s exciting to see where the next art venture takes her.
That next art stint, she says, takes her right back to her beloved Singapore where she will intern with the National Museum of Singapore.
“Not only will this broaden my horizons, it will also open up new experiences and possibilities which I wouldn’t have been presented with had it not been for the practicum at the Cultural Precinct,” she says.