Why the National Art School?
As Australia’s leading independent fine art school, NAS attracts exceptional students from across the country. The BFA degree is focussed on studio-based learning, designed to impart the skills, knowledge and creative independence required to sustain a career as an artist. As a student of NAS, you will join a vibrant community of artists and art professionals, students and teachers, who are devoted to pursuing the highest aspirations for contemporary art practice.
NAS is a forward-thinking, progressive art school with a continually evolving curriculum and small class sizes. We teach students to think creatively across disciplines and provide them with the instruction and resources to fulfil their artistic potential.
NAS students also have many opportunities for real life experience in the contemporary art industry, as the School participates in major art events and art prizes including the Biennale of Sydney, Sydney Festival, VIVID, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and the Dobell Drawing Prize. Each year NAS takes part in major contemporary art fairs including Sydney Contemporary, showcasing the best recent graduates to a targeted audience of gallerists, curators, collectors and art enthusiasts.
NAS also offers students career opportunities such as overseas residencies in Paris and Rome, and many opportunities to exhibit their work publicly, on campus including at our popular annual Graduate Exhibitions, in local spaces and regional galleries.
Learn from the best
NAS teachers are a diverse team of more than 100 accomplished and experienced art practitioners, award-winning leaders in their fields across painting, ceramics, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, photomedia and art history and theory. Their extensive professional insight creates a rich, dynamic and immersive learning environment dedicated to fostering the individual talents of each student. The NAS Art History and Theory faculty are leaders in their fields, editing and writing for publications, delivering public and academic talks and leading symposia. NAS’s teachers exhibit in Australia’s best public and commercial galleries and are frequently finalists and winners in national and international art prizes. In 2021, the Art Gallery of NSW’s Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes featured 31 NAS staff and alumni among the 112 finalists, nearly a third in total.
‘Here at NAS, you have artists speaking to artists, we have the same perspectives and share a connection. The environment is conducive to creativity, it thrives on this campus.’
Lesley Wengembo, BFA student
Where will a BFA take you?
The NAS BFA degree is designed to develop highly skilled arts practitioners who can work independently or collaboratively across a variety of professional roles. An emphasis on 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 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 and arts production roles. Many BFA graduates also use their degree as the basis for entry into specialist postgraduate degrees, and into Visual Art teaching.
Who studies at NAS?
The NAS student cohort is intergenerational, a mix of school leavers, mature-age students, post-graduate students and students who have done a NAS short course and want more.
‘These are exciting times to become an artist; the world needs more artists to help us make sense of things,’ said NAS Director and CEO Steven Alderton. ‘As well as learning the practical skills and theoretical background you need to succeed in the contemporary art world, we give you the ability to bring new ideas to the fore. You also join an incredible creative community that you will always be a part of, long after graduating.’
Following the footsteps
Some of Australia’s most successful and accomplished artists have studied and taught at NAS, including Margaret Olley, Elisabeth Cummings, John Olsen, Guy Warren, Tim Storrier, Cressida Campbell, Fiona Hall, Fiona Foley, James Gleeson, Joan Ross, Lucy Culliton, Karla Dickens, Mitch Cairns, Jumaadi, Juz Kitson, Guy Maestri, Sophie Cape, Georgia Saxelby, Kirtika Kain and Natasha Walsh.
‘Studying at NAS is pretty magical. Returning to campus after the lockdown last year, my work opened up completely. I think being part of a community of artists, at the heart of a cultural community that surrounds it, of some of Australia’s best galleries, you can see it and feel it on the campus every day.’
Sophie Horne, BFA student
At any one time there are hundreds of exhibitions around the world featuring the NAS community.
Check out the listings below of alumni, staff and student exhibitions.