Open October

Welcome to NAS Open October

An online comprehensive guide into the National Art School

Join the National Art School, Australia’s leading independent fine art school, for our virtual Open October. For the next month, everything you need will be at your fingertips from the comfort and safety of your own home.

Throughout each themed week, you will be able to

  • discover more about the National Art School
  • chat with our staff
  • see what our current students are working on
  • find out about our BFA, MFA and DFA degree programs, recorded from our 2020 Open Day
  • get a taste of life at NAS with exclusive previews of Art Forum, our weekly lecture program for students where invited guests present talks on their curatorial, artistic and research projects
  • learn about how to apply to study with us and more

Applications to study at the National Art School in 2021 are now open.

Wanting to take the next step with us? Find out additional information and apply today using the link below.


I feel like attending NAS provides me with opportunities to connect to the real art world out there
– Yalan, BFA 2
I chose NAS because of its high standards and its ability to produce some of the top artists in Australia and the world
– Elliot, BFA 3
I chose NAS because I wanted to get my hands dirty and acquire the skills I need to be an artist
– Melinda, MFA
I knew that NAS had the resources to support my goals, and I was particularly impressed with the caliber of NAS’s teachers and wanted the opportunity to learn from them. So many NAS alumni have gone on to produce incredible work and have amazing careers, so I knew NAS was something special
– Elle, BFA 3


Student Services
+61 2 9339 8651


Why study at the National Art School?

The greatest part of a student’s time at the National Art School is spent on art making, under the guidance of established, practicing artists.

This is the studio based practice model of learning that we are acclaimed for. It is the key to our long history of producing Australian artists of national and international renown. Small class sizes and an emphasis on one-to-one interaction are essential elements of the student experience. This creates opportunities for guidance, feedback and discussion with teachers that helps our students grow quickly towards artistic independence.

Within their chosen discipline, we task our students with project work that provides the time and support to build that independence, culminating in participation in the Graduate Exhibition. Students’ technical skill and conceptual understanding is underpinned by core study in Drawing and Art History & Theory.

We challenge our students, and help them challenge themselves, so that they emerge from the National Art School with the knowledge, skills and confidence to successfully pursue their career.

Studios and Facilities

How does the National Art School support your practice?

In keeping with our focus on studio practice, our campus boasts a broad range of workshop and studio facilities that support learning across an extensive range of both traditional and contemporary art making practices.

As students progress through the BFA and commence independent projects within their nominated area of Studio Specialisation, students are provided with an individual studio space in their area where they can develop their work. Similarly, students at MFA level are provided with individual studio spaces within dedicated postgraduate studio areas.

Our dedicated Drawing facilities support a range of practices from life drawing and other observational practices to multi-media works, installation practices and new media art works.

In addition to specialist workshop facilities in all of our studio areas including Ceramics, Painting, Photomedia, Printmaking and Sculpture, our recently refurbished central workshops support an extensive range of small to large-scale fabrication techniques in both timber and metal.

Our central digital imaging lab provides access to the full range of Adobe digital imaging software on a Macintosh platform, and our Library computer room provides further access to digital resources.

Various Project Spaces throughout the campus provide an opportunity for classes and individual students to develop and present a broad range of art works and exhibition projects.

Campus life

What would your life be like at National Art School?

The National Art School lies within the heart of Sydney’s arts precinct in the vibrant inner city suburb of Darlinghurst, surrounded by a thriving and diverse creative community.

Since 1922 we have occupied the old Darlinghurst gaol, an unrivalled sandstone campus which is both a site of immense historical significance and a specialist fine art school. The campus is fitted out with high quality facilities such as museum-standard galleries and state-of-the-art workshops, authentic artist studios and private workspaces, a library and learning centre, research and digital labs, student lounges and spaces for collaboration. Students also have access to the free campus-wide WIFI network.

At the heart of the student experience is the National Art School’s vibrant community of artists and art professionals, students and faculty, who are devoted to the pursuing the highest aspirations for contemporary art practice. As a student at the National Art School, you will have access to over 80 eminent practicing artists and art historians, who lecture, lead by example and provide intensive studio-based tuition across the disciplines of ceramics, drawing, painting, photomedia, printmaking and sculpture.

In addition to the School’s contemporary art space, NAS Gallery, students are within walking distance to some of Sydney’s best galleries, museums, theatres, live music venues and cinemas in the stimulating and culturally rich Darlinghurst precinct.

The Student Representative Council unites the student body and enriches life on campus with exciting social events, including the Student Ball, student socials and performance nights.

Career Opportunities

Where can the National Art School take you?

The NAS Bachelor of Fine Art degree is designed to develop highly skilled arts practitioners who can work independently or collaboratively across a variety of professional roles.

An emphasis upon the development of studio skills and independent practice means BFA graduates are highly suited to a range of specialist and generalist careers in the visual arts.

In addition to working as artists and curators, our graduates may work in the related fields of arts administration, the museums and galleries sector, arts marketing and sales, arts policy and consultancy and a broad range of technical or arts production roles.

Increasingly fine arts graduates will develop a ‘portfolio career’ combining their independent art practice with these related professional roles or in combination with roles in completely different occupational fields.

Many BFA graduates use their degree as the basis for entry into a specialist postgraduate degrees such as Arts Management or Education that provide a range of professional qualifications and career paths.

Bachelor of Fine Art Information Session

Hear from Simon Cooper, National Art School Head of Studies, break down everything you need to know about our Bachelor of Fine Art Degree program. In this presentation, you will find out more about the National Art School, see how the course is structured, learn more about some of our key alumni and more.

The Bachelor of Fine Art Information Session was recorded in front of a live audience on Saturday 26 September at NAS Open Day 2020.


Teaching Experience

Do you have any burning questions about the admissions process, your portfolio, life on campus or details about our courses?

Book into our one-to-one Zoom consultations with Lorraine Kypiotis, senior academic and Art History & Theory Lecturer. During these 20 minute sessions, you will receive dedicated and personalised advice and information about what your future could look like with us at that National Art School.

Sessions are available from Monday 19 – Wednesday 21 October, places strictly limited. Secure your spot now through the link below.

Week Three

Student life

This week, get a taste of what student life is like at the National Art School.

Find out more about our academic and administration staff through our staff profile feature, and watch two of our Art Forum lectures – released exclusively for Open October.

Staff Profiles

NAS Director and CEO Steven Alderton in the 2nd year Painting Studios. Photo: Peter Morgan

Meet the Director: Steven Alderton

The National Art School’s Director and CEO Steven Alderton has a lifetime’s experience in the arts, as a curator, gallery director, researcher, master planner and practicing artist who continues to wield a paintbrush in the studio.

He arrived at the National Art School in January 2017 after holding Director positions at the Australian Museum, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre and Lismore Regional Gallery.


Meet the Head of Studies: Simon Cooper

In 2001, Simon Cooper left his hometown of Melbourne to join the National Art School as Head of Printmaking. At the time, he thought he’d stay a few years, until his kids were old enough to go to school, then the family would head back south.

Not quite. After teaching at NAS for seven years, Cooper became Head of Studies in 2008. He is responsible for the development and delivery of the school’s academic program, including the BFA, MFA and more recently introduced DFA.

Lynda Draper

Meet the Head of Ceramics: Lynda Draper

Since studying at NAS from 1985 -1987, Lynda Draper has worked as a ceramicist for more than 30 years, recognised as one of Australia’s finest and most revolutionary practitioners. She has been NAS’s Head of Ceramics for the past three years, and last month won one of Australia’s major art awards, the 2019 Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Prize.

Art Forum

Art Forum

Art Forum is a weekly lecture program where invited guests present talks on their curatorial, artistic and research projects to all members of the National Art School staff and student communities. This week, hear from NAS sculpture lecturer Bridie Lunney and painting lecturer Elizabeth Pulie.

Bridie Lunney

Bridie Lunney, NAS sculpture lecturer

Born 1976, Sydney, New South Wales; lives and works in Melbourne. Bridie Lunney completed a Bachelor of Fine Art (Sculpture) at RMIT University in 2006. Recent exhibitions include Once More with Feeling, Margaret Lawrence Gallery, Melbourne, 2009; Non-Negotiable, Project Space, Melbourne, 2010; Risk Potential, Die Ecke, Santiago, Chile, 2010; A Condition of Change, Sarah Scout, Melbourne, 2011; Suspension Test, Conical, Melbourne, 2011; Space, Pieces of, West Space and Pieces of Eight, Melbourne, 2012; Place of Assembly, Melbourne International Arts Festival, 2012; The Ceiling Has Lost Its Solidity, Manysquaremetres, Melbourne, 2012; Redlands Konica Minolta Art Prize, National Art School, Sydney, 2013; and Propositions, with Torie Nimmervoll, Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne, 2013.

Image: Bridie Lunney, Opening Out Temporal Proximities, Abbotsford Convent, 2019, image credit: Timothy Herbert

Elizabeth Pulie

Elizabeth Pulie, NAS painting lecturer

Elizabeth Pulie has exhibited her work since 1989. Her recent PhD research at Sydney College of the Arts (The University of Sydney) led her to extend her painting practice to greater experimentation with new mediums, while theoretical enquiry now completes her practice. She has presented papers at eight conferences and symposia since 2014, both within Australia and internationally.

In 2002 and 2003 Pulie co-directed Front Room, an artist run space in the front room of her house. From 2002 to 2005 she edited and published the magazine Lives of the Artists, and established the Sydney Ladies’ Artist’s Club from 2005-06. Pulie is represented by Sarah Cottier Gallery in Sydney and Neon Parc in Melbourne.

Image: Elizabeth Pulie, #62 (Josie) and #67 (Cape for my Guru), installed The National 2017, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 2017


From the Studios

NAS has long been recognised for our use of this studio model of learning. Our focus on small class sizes ensures that every student receives individual guidance and that their independent exploration of art making is informed by a comprehensive knowledge of the historical underpinnings of that practice as well as the dynamic range of contemporary possibilities for art practice today.

Check out how our current students are ultilising their NAS Studios below.

Giorgia, BFA 3 Sculpture

“My experience at NAS has been really lovely. There are some really wonderful teachers here who take the time to help and make you feel like what your doing is worthy.”

Luke, BFA 3 Painting

“[The National Art School] is great. I like the people. Your peers at the school cannot be underestimated. The standard set inside the studios of the painting department is very high.”

Clementine, BFA 3 Painting

“The community here is incredibly wholesome and supportive, something which I missed a lot during isolation. The main reason I attend NAS is for all the amazing connections you make with fellow artists and the wealth of knowledge and perspective you gain from that.”

Nina, BFA 3 Painting

“I love being here, whether I’m painting in my studio or reading in a little nook on campus, I’m just happy to be part of such a supportive and encouraging community. I think what I find most valuable is the one-on-one teaching, I think the feedback and critiques from lecturers are really important for my development as a painter.”

Kansas, BFA 3 Painting

“The experience at NAS has been invaluable. Not only has it been beneficial to be surrounded by like minded people, but the academic side to the program has opened my mind to a diverse range of thinkers and consequently, widened my understanding of the world. I chose NAS as my place of study mainly because many of the lecturers are also world renowned practicing artists.”

Amelia, MFA Sculpture

“It is so great to have a place to work on my ceramics in a private studio. Being able to firer works in the kilns at NAS has allowed me to explore with large scale works.”

Mol, BFA 2 Photomedia

“The feeling of the NAS campus, dare I say, ‘the vibe of it’, is like none other. It’s such a privilege to see amazing amateur artists just do their thing. My peers and lecturers help me push myself be a better artist. Both my parents have always encouraged my sisters and me to do whatever we love, and for me that was Fine Arts. In 2015 I had the privilege of seeing Australia’s incredible exhibition at the Venice Biennale represented by Fiona Hall, and when I found out she was a NAS graduate I just had to go here!”

Luke, MFA Painting

“So much of why I’m here is the culture of the art school – it’s being around other students and the atmosphere of the place. It’s alive.”

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