Postgraduate Lives: Amer Shomali, MA Animation

'You see things from a new perspective'
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The Independent Online

Amer Shomali, 26, is doing the animation pathway of the MA offered by the Arts Institute at Bournemouth.

How do the different pathways of the MA interact?

There are 20 students in the four fields, namely animation, fine art, costume and photography. One day a week we have seminars on general topics, usually led by one of the tutors or perhaps a student. But the rest of the week is for independent study, and everyone works on their own projects.

Why did you choose this course?

I have a career as an artist in Palestine, but I wasn't interested in developing more technical skills in software. The course at AIB is more about developing yourself as a critical practitioner: it's not about the technology; it's about expressing yourself. I didn't want to go to classes and spend my time following a curriculum. You get the feeling here that the course was designed for you as an individual.

What do you like best about the course?

When you have seminars with photographers and costume designers, they share their point of view with you, and you begin to see things from different perspectives. Because you're not just surrounded by animators, it opens up new horizons. I also came from a background where we used only computers, so my tutors have been helping me to explore something new and push my limits – now I'm trying different styles, both traditional and experimental.

And what is the most difficult thing about it?

Being two hours away from London. Bournemouth is an inspiring place, but as an artist you have to be in contact with galleries and exhibitions in London, so you have to visit at least twice a month. But at least we have the sea here – there are no beaches in London!

Is there a thesis?

Yes, and a personal project. My thesis is about storytelling in animation – how to get people interested and get the information across really fast – because as a Palestinian, I feel we've had trouble telling our story through the media. My project is a video art installation, which will be exhibited here and in London: it tells the story of a character in prison who wants to escape and reach the sea, but the subtext is about Palestine.

Will it set you up well for the future?

Yes. I belong to a group of young artists in Palestine, and we try to take part in political discussion through posters, cartoons and comics. Every two months, we visit refugee camps and give the children workshops in photography or animation. Their stories are amazing, and I want to give them the tools to tell their stories.

How much does it cost?

The MA costs £3,450 – but I received a scholarship from the British Council, which pays for my course fees and living expenses.

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