BA (Hons) Fine Art preparatory activities and reading

Art activity

Start a small sketchbook (either A6, A5 or A4) and visit an exhibition, and make a few pages of drawings / notes on what you see, including some thumbnail studies of artworks.

Try to make each page interesting, as an artistic statement in itself, thinking about composition, editing, mark-making, negative space, etc.

Drawing ‘thumbnail studies’ of individual artworks may help animate each page and enhance your understanding of each work. (below are some examples of lively studies of artworks based on a museum visit….)

Please write details of the exhibition, location and individual artworks alongside, and please also include a short reflective comment on what you have learnt from each artwork / artist, and identifying where their interests might lie, and to start understanding their thoughts about art.

The exhibition can be in a local art museum or gallery near where you live, and could be as part of a trip to Cambridge or London.

Larger museums and galleries currently require visitors to book in before visiting, via the gallery website.

Please remember the excellent range of free exhibitions which are available to see in different locations, such Tate Modern or Tate Britain in London, or the Fitzwilliam Museum or Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge.

The New Exhibitions website will be a helpful point of reference when planning a trip to a gallery.


The following is required reading before starting the course. You may find it helpful, to use your new sketchbook to make notes on artists, artworks, exhibitions, art movements or related ideas, as part of the process of reading and learning.

Book Chapter

(You will only be available to access this once you are registered at ARU and have a username and password)

Michael Archer – Art Since 1960: Chapter 1: The Real and its Objects (pages: 11-41)

This book is also available to purchase, and will be a very useful point of reference when studying BA (Hons) Fine Art at ARU.

Online Exhibition Reviews

Jennifer Packer - A Painter of Abundant Talents – Serpentine Gallery, August 2021
'A painter of abundant gifts' - review by Laura Cumming (The Guardian)

Imagining Landscapes: Paintings By Helen Frankenthaler, 1952–1976 - Gagosian Grosvenor Hill, London, August 2021.
Helen Frankenthaler's profile on the Tate website
'Like a Rothko dancing wildly to jazz' - review by Jonathan Jones (The Guardian)

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov - Tate Modern, London
'A terrifying trip to the USSR's dark heart' - review by Jonathan Jones, Oct 2017 (The Guardian)

Time Zones: Recent Film and Video - Tate Modern, January 2004
'A Very Brief History of Time' - review by Adrian Searle, Jan 2004 (The Guardian)

Fiona Tan, Saint Sebastian - Tate Modern 2001