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Dream come true for aspiring artist

After graduating from ACG Parnell College in 2019, gifted artist Sammy Chen is now heading to London to begin her studies at University College London’s (UCL) Slade School of Fine Art.

Ranked as the UK’s top art and design educational institution, UCL is one of three UK universities keen to open their doors to the artful ACG Parnell College alumna.

For Sammy, landing a place at UCL is the opportunity of a lifetime.

“Slade is so renowned for its Fine Art programmes and it has cultivated many great female artists,” she says.

“I can’t wait to broaden my knowledge of art and immerse myself in the artistic atmosphere of the city. The campus is located right next to the British Museum, so it will be magic!”

Originally from China, Sammy came to New Zealand in January 2017 to complete her high school studies at ACG Parnell. During her three years at the school she flourished, taking out the Young Artist Award in Year 13 and gaining the skills and confidence she’ll need to succeed at university.

“ACG taught me good study methods and excellent time management skills and I will take this study pattern through to UCL with me. My teachers also taught me the importance of relaxation – it’s vital in order to stay in a positive cycle of studying, learning and working.”

“Sammy has been a cherished art student since she arrived at ACG Parnell,” confirms Art teacher and International Dean, Nikki Rakete.

“Through consistent effort, grit, determination and wholehearted perseverance she has excelled in the Visual Arts. The whole art department has had the pleasure of witnessing Sammy thrive and share the pride in her accomplishments together. She has had the support of her village at ACG Parnell and has always allowed herself the opportunity to develop relationships that enrich her progress.”

Sammy admits being an international student in a new country isn’t easy, but with the support and guidance of ACG staff, she soon felt at home.

“My first three months in New Zealand was very hard because I was here without my family and I had to adjust to my new life both physically and mentally. I had to learn to take care of myself, communicate and study in English, and find my way around a new city. I am so grateful to my ACG teachers – they didn’t just encourage me and help me with my schoolwork, but they cared about my life and my feelings. For me, they are not only teachers, but also friends.”

Sammy’s passion for art began when she was just five and has continued to grow over the past 14 years, thanks in part to inspirational art teachers and a love of anime (Japanese hand-drawn and computer animation).

“I had lots of hobbies when I was little, but art is the only one I’ve continued to concentrate on. As long as I’m drawing or painting, I feel peaceful – I think I will continue to love art for the rest of my life.”

“Sammy has laughed and cried with us and we are very grateful to have had her share her formative years with us,” adds Nikki. “She is now an outstanding part of our alumni and we are very much looking forward to what works of art this talented young lady will create.”

With a fine art degree under her belt, Sammy will have the backing she needs to turn her passion into a career.

“After I graduate, I plan to work in an art-related role for a few years. Once I have a sufficient store of knowledge and money I’d like to work as an artist or an illustrator. That would be a dream come true.”