Art of Vet Student, a joint student/staff initiative, has been running at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies since 2013. “Art of Vet Student” aims to give vet students a creative medium to express what being a Vet student is all about as well as being fun! Students are left to interpret the theme as they wish and can use whatever medium they want – from painting, drawing, collage, photograph, prose or poetry (everything is “allowed”). Each year, winning entries are chosen by a panel of students and staff before being printed and displayed in the Vet School.
Since the scheme was set up the number of entries has grown with the students seeing this as an annual outlet for showing their creative streak. Some choose to stick to topics within the curriculum (e.g. art interpretations of anatomy) while others go for displaying fun images from their work placements. Topics closer to the process of study have also been created, with the winning entry in 2014 making use of whiteboard and study tools to create a stylistic image of the inside of a cow! This particular entry has gone on to be used as the image for the student handbook as well as featuring on the cover of an upcoming issue of the Journal of Veterinary Medical Education.
Veterinary degrees are known to be challenging with a significant workload. Allowing students to use their imagination in this way is one way of helping them to understand the need for a healthy work/life balance which the school is working hard to promote. In addition the Vet School gains by having some amazing art work on display!
Other art outlets have followed, such as the successful collaboration with Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) to stage the “Horsing around event” where art and vet students joined together to create wire images from our teaching horses led by a professional artist. This allowed both parties to explore horse anatomy through the lens of a vet and an artist. This has grown to being an annual event for the vet students taking place each September and led by a local artist.
It’s fun and as a non-artist a fascinating journey to see what the students can and will do. Art is now well embedded within the School, including a Leverhulme Residency by Andrea Roe from ECA. From the staff side the workload is small and only requires creating an environment to allow the students to express themselves and provide some incentive (prizes and the honour of their work being on display to not only other vet students but all visitors to the School). The main thing is that it’s fun for all – those taking part, those judging, and those enjoying seeing the works on display.