When the Government were recently encouraging us all to retrain – “Fatima’s next job could be in cyber (She just doesn’t know it yet)” with the tag line ‘Rethink. Reskill. Reboot.’,  I had already jumped ship and gone the other way. Accompanying #3 son around Hereford College of Arts open day complaining (muttering) about how jealous I was of his opportunity, having already seen #2 son graduate the Foundation course and go on to do a photography BA (Hons), when one of the amazing Technical Demonstrators that populate the workshops at HCA caught my attention and said, “you can do this too.” That was the start of my change in career. I am indeed Rethinking, reskilling and rebooting. I just don’t think it’s what the government campaign had in mind.

BA Fine Art student Elly Westbrook on discovering new experiences at Hereford College of Arts

I started my creative journey (apologies for the cliché) on the Portfolio course. One chaotic, brilliant, rollercoaster ride (again, apologies) of creative madness. I loved it! I had thought that it would scratch that creative itch, but it didn’t, it just opened up the full range of possibilities.

So, now I am starting my final year, level 6, of a BA (hons) Fine Art degree, and I don’t want it to end. Luckily there are options for further study and I am looking at progressing onto the MA Fine Art degree programme.

I would describe myself as a multi-media artist whose work is always driven by a narrative. During the first part of level 5, I explored projection photography. Rooting around in my attic I came across a cache of photographic slides of me as a child at my Grand-Parents house in the 1970’s. There was another box of slides that I have no memory of ever seeing before, pictures of my biological father as a baby taken in the same house. These photos were shot on technicolour film which was rare in 1944. My son Harry was staying with us at the time (in between lockdowns) and he was fascinated to see that the pictures of my father were ‘technically very accomplished’. It was clear that the authors of the photos were two different people. My Grand-Father was the happy snapper of the ones with me in, but the ones of Peter (my father) were from a different hand. And so, a mystery unfolded…and my interest was awakened.  It turns out that an American Army Airforce Major was stationed with my Grand-Mother during the war. He was Peter’s Biological father. My Grand Mother adopted Peter in 1944. I’ll leave that there for now…


I contacted the current owners of the house in Cheltenham, and they allowed me to project the slides onto their house in December 2020. I projected the past onto the present and the inside, outside. It was an incredibly poignant experience

The second half of level 5 saw me moving onto a work about the loneliness experienced in lockdown. It’s called ‘the lonely chair’, I have upholstered a chair swapped for a lemon drizzle cake in a fabric made up of the selfies taken by the people I would normally have been seeing regularly and wanting to share a cuppa with.

If you are toying with exploring a creative career – can I urge you to jump in with both feet and take advantage of the amazing Art College we have here in Hereford. I cannot begin to explain how much I am loving my life at the moment!

You can follow me on Instagram @elleywestbrookartpractice