University of Calgary

Art exhibit

February 23, 2010

Student art exchange

Nadia Visram (left) and Ashley Rich are at U of C for a six-week exchange. / Photo: Ken Bendiktsen
The University of Calgary and the Royal College of Art in London, England, rarely cross paths—they are, after all, a world apart. But for six weeks every year, graduate art students from both institutions change places to gain a fresh perspective on their work.

Nadia Visram and Ashley Rich, students at the Royal College of Art, have been in Calgary for three weeks of their six-week exchange. Their work is on display at the university this week.

Rich explains that the studio space is the biggest difference between RCA and the University of Calgary. “There’s so much of it and so we’re not limited in our creation because of space.” The classes also “seem much more formal here” than they are at RCA, says Visram.

There is little leisure time for the artists, but with trips to the Banff Arts Centre and treks into the mountains integrated into their schedules, the young artists have experienced much more than just the studios within the University of Calgary.

U of C art professor Bill Laing began the exchange 20 years ago with the help of his friend Tim Mara, who remained in England while Laing moved to Calgary to begin a career here. The exchange is named after Mara, who passed away a few years ago.

While the exchange was originally open to only printmakers, it has expanded over the years to include all kinds of art forms. Visram is a painter and Rich is a printmaker.

Both students plan on opening their own studios after college, but hope to fit in some travel before they step out into the real world. Their pieces will be on display at the Little Gallery until Feb. 26. For more information on the University of Calgary’s art program, visit

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