Whanganui local and UCOL graduate Kris Lott has come a long way since she decided to give an introduction arts course a go. When she's not busy mustering cows on the family farm or visiting her artwork on display at Jolt, Kris is prepping for her next challenge – a post-graduate Diploma in Museum Studies.
You couldn't have picked a bigger change of pace for Kris, who was a rest home cook before she started studying. "It was a solid job, but wasn't fulfilling. A friend of mine Lauriel Masson-Oakden was about to start UCOL's Certificate in Art and Design. I'd been looking at the course myself, so I thought 'Why not?'"
'Why not' worked out better than she hoped, and Kris enjoyed it so much that she went on to complete a full Bachelor's Degree in Art and Design. "Without the certificate programme I definitely wouldn't have gone into a degree. Coming back to study, it's a bit nerve-racking. Because I did the certificate, they were like family - if you had problems you knew who to talk to, everyone was very close. At UCOL, we weren't just a number."
Last year was when things started really ramping up for Kris, with her artwork selected from nearly 200 submissions to be displayed in the 2019 Whanganui Arts Review. She also joined the Sarjeant Gallery as an intern, which is where she discovered her interest in museum and gallery management. "I'd been there a few months, and was like, I'm really enjoying this. I liked the process of it all – getting exhibitions organised, finding out the history of art pieces, handling and displaying the work." It's what led her and Lauriel to apply for Massey University's Museum Studies course, which they were both accepted into at the start of this year.
"I'm still involved at Sarjeant as an intern, but I'm also trying to treat my art like a job, booking in four hours of painting every day. My aim is to have a part time job to get money in, but create artwork with the rest of my time. I want to run a gallery eventually – I've joined the Fine Arts Whanganui Gallery and I'm keen to find ways to help other students and emerging artists."
"There's lots of things I still want to learn – the ceramics and printmaking classes were great, and photography's next on my list to have a go at. UCOL's Whanganui campus is great for that, all the facilities are nearby."
For anyone looking at creative pathways and wondering what the future might hold, Kris is eager to encourage them. "It's about thinking outside of the box - you come to learn painting and art stuff but you can apply that knowledge and creativity in so many other directions. For me, it started in the art history and the research side. I discovered something I never would have thought to try."