RGU Contemporary Art student ACES her degree

A talented award-winning artist from Robert Gordon University’s (RGU) Gray’s School of Art will fulfil a dream she has had since she was seven years old when she graduates with a 1st class Honours Degree in Contemporary Art Practice this Friday, July 13. 

Jade GilbertJade Gilbert (22) from Northfield in Aberdeen had always been passionate about art and excelled at the subject through her time at Northfield Academy.

Having received an A in Higher Art, the next step was an Advanced Higher, however, her school couldn’t run the course as she was the only student interested. Jade was not put off by this and went to the SQA where she gathered all the material needed and taught herself – coming away with an A Band 1, the top set in the UK.

“When I was growing up, I had one major passion that surfaced through every movement and every decision that I made throughout my life - I was inherently passionate about art,” Jade said.

“Seeing this, my mother would tell me all about this place solely dedicated to Art. Being only seven years old I heard the name ‘The Gray’s School of Art' for the first time. Although at that age I knew nothing more about this place, other than it being my idea of heaven. I decided to make it my goal.”

It was while at Northfield Academy Jade had her first interaction with RGU through the ACES (Access to Creative Education Scotland) programme.

“Through ACES I had two exhibitions at the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture alongside other participants of ACES. In 2014, when I applied for University, I only applied to RGU Grays School of Art where I was accepted onto the CAP course.

“While I was given this news, I was also told to apply for the scholarship award that they were offering due to my participation within ACES. After a few days I received a call that I’d be receiving the Baillie Gifford four year Scholarship to support me through my studies.”

Jade’s decision to go to university was fuelled by her passion for creativity and her self-drive to become the first of her family to go into higher education.

“One of the main reasons I wanted to go to University was that I battled the stigma throughout my life that art and the creative arts isn’t an area that is easy to develop a career in.

“I wanted to make my passion a reality and a foundation for a positive future. I wanted to live my life knowing I did something I was passionate about and loved.”

In her final year at RGU Jade won the BP Highly Commended Fine Art Award and this was one of many highlights for the talented creative student.

“My time at RGU has been an emotional rollercoaster. It’s been an amazing experience, a lot of fun and hard work with many amazing memories and moments I will carry with me for life.

“I have gained so many valuable opportunities as well the confidence to carry myself forward as a creative individual. In relation to my achievement of a first-class BA, I was stunned, to the point of tears. I was more surprised that I could even achieve a first, I dreamed of receiving one, but always believed it was out of my reach.

“I am also so incredibly grateful for receiving the awards that I got throughout the years and in my final show. I am still in shock and in time I will fully process all that has happened.”

Jade is now looking to the future where she hopes to build on the skills she has developed at university and continuing to help promote teaching and education based projects throughout Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire.

“At the moment I have a few commissions and community projects that I will be taking part in after my degree show. I would like to give myself a gap year after the completion of my BA, to work within the community and develop my individual practice. I would love to be involved with ACCESS again, and any projects within my local city.”