An Artist in Venice

Our partnership with the British Council Venice Biennale Fellowship programme opens up a unique opportunity for  students in the School of Arts & Creative Industries to apply for British Council Fellowships. Fine Art student, Leah Roberts tells us all about her fellowship in Venice

Rialto Bridge, Venice

The Venice Biennale, La Biennale de Venezia, is recognised as one of the most famous and prestigious cultural institutions in the world, standing at the forefront of research and promotion of new contemporary art trends – the Art Bienelle is a world leader in contemporary art exhibitions with over 86 countries represented.

The legendary canals

Being given the opportunity to apply for a fellowship was incredible – the Fellowships programme is there to enrich the biennale exhibition, and Fellows are given the opportunity to spend a month in Venice during this phenomenal cutlural event, all supported with a grant to cover travel, accomodation and living costs.  For me personally, I wanted to be part of it because I knew that Sonia Boyce was exhibiting – I love Sonia Boyce and everything that she stands for as an artist, but also as a black female.

Photo from Leah’s Degree Show project

I ended up applying at the last minute and stayed up the night before the deadline, completing my application form, so I was shocked when I found out that I had been awarded a Fellowship.  During my time as a Fellow I received training on invigilation and public engagement in exhibitions and worked as a steward around the British Pavillion, helping to guide visitors and conducting tours to explain the work on display.  It was an incredible opportunity to develop a creative and professional network and I was fascinated to find out about different artists that I had never seen or even heard of before, and observing their perceptions of the Milk of Dreams.

Leah’s art
Leah’s art








Without doubt the experience has really helped me to develop my dissertation and my degree show project. I feel that I have grown as an artist as I’ve been able to see first hand people who create work like myself. I’d like to think that the experience will also help me moving forwards, to communicate my ideas to a more diverse and international audience. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’ll always remember it as the thing that I have loved most about my time at Teesside University.

Leah telling us what she has loved most about her time studying at Teesside University in our “Have a Heart” competition

Find out more about Leah’s course, BA (Hons) Fine Art here

Find out about our MA Fine Art here

Follow Leah on Instagram @Leah_roberts99