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Priyanka Sharma

MA Ceramics & Glass, 2015–17

What were you doing before you came to the RCA?

Before applying to the RCA, I was working as a product designer in India. I had recently set up a studio there called Studio Raw Material which worked with local materials and craft communities in the desert plains of western India. My first degree was product design from a design college in Delhi. 

Why did you decide to study at the RCA?

I wasn’t really intending to study again, and only applied to the RCA on the off-chance, after visiting a friend who was studying here. It seemed like a very open place, and I liked the way that it seemed to be structured around the individual. One of the reasons that I applied was to find a community of like-minded people – it can be hard, outside of a school or university, to find that. Community is a very big part of being at the RCA for me.  

Why did you choose the Ceramics & Glass course?

Coming from a design product background, I knew that I wanted to be in the School of Material because it provided a bridge between art and design. I was looking for a course that would offer me more freedom than I had experienced on my BA. In addition to that, I was fascinated by the work that was produced on this course.

What have you found to be the main differences between your BA and the MA?

They are worlds apart, and there are almost too many differences to mention – from the resources, to the tutors, to the way that the course is structured. One of the things that I have been struck by is the movement between the courses. I often use the Sculpture workshops, which are just across the road, and lots of students on the Ceramics & Glass course use the Print facilities, which are also just next door.   

How has your work changed or developed as a result of studying the RCA?

My work has definitely changed as a result of coming here. The MA has given me the chance to understand my own work better, and to work out what my core values are. Outside an educational setting it can be hard to do that, because you are often so busy. Since studying at the RCA, my work has become much more open-ended and I have been experimenting with ways of working that are new to me.

What is the mix of students like?

It’s very mixed! I had been worried that everyone would be very young, but instead, the ages range from 23 to 65. People also have a wide variety of professional and life experiences – they are not all from a ceramics background.

Have you faced any particular challenges while you have been here?

As an international student, I would have found it difficult to study here if I didn’t have financial help; I am lucky to be partially funded by both the Commonwealth and the RCA. The other challenging thing was the city – it took me a while to settle into London, but now I love it. There’s so much to learn about design just from living in this city.

What have you found most rewarding about your time at the RCA, so far?

The main thing is the time and space to think and work. There’s a lot of support, but it’s not too structured: it’s up to you to shape your time here according to what you’re working on. The other important thing for me is the studio and the community. I have found that you learn as much from the people around you as you do from the tutors and technicians. I spend most of my time here in the studio. That kind of intense space is important – you have the chance to step back, reflect and concentrate.
"I often use the Sculpture workshops, which are just across the road, and lots of students on the Ceramics & Glass course use the Print facilities, which are also just next door."
Priyanka Sharma
Priyanka Sharma