Creative Arts and Industries

Meet our students and graduates

Fine Arts undergraduate students

Mano Pihema

Mano Pihema

"At Elam the best thing is the level of freedom you get. With art, you can create things with whatever other fields you're interested in, like science or politics, feeding back into it. It's pretty open as to what you can do here, so long as you’re making things.

"The workshops and facilities at Elam are also pretty sick. They're open late, they've got a lot of top notch materials, the presses, the machines, all the computer labs. That's a major plus. I've been thinking about what I'll do once I leave, and that's when all the networking that I've done will come into play. Being able to network extremely easily with a bunch of likeminded makers both within the School and the industry has been great."

Mano is in his third year of a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree.


Antje Barke

“Since coming to Elam I have enjoyed most the opportunity I have to build and extend myself and my practice, but also the amazing relationships I have created with the staff and other students. Through learning many different mediums I have moved in directions I would have never thought of taking myself, branching out into photography and installation sculpture. I have gained skills in conceptual engagement and critical thinking. I have learnt how to use lighting equipment and to do studio photography. I have learnt how to work with metal, to make my own paint, to make metal and plaster casts, and also how to use creative software such as Photoshop and Final Cut Pro, among many other things.

I have been chosen to go to Shanghai on behalf of Elam for three weeks as part of the 2013 Shanghai Biennale, where I will work alongside students from the University of Shanghai’s College of Fine Arts. This is an amazing opportunity for me as it gives me a chance to build my practice through international experience, create networks and get international exposure.

Once I graduate I hope to go on to postgraduate studies. I haven't yet decided on a career path, although I am considering teaching, working in the design field or acting as an artistic director. However, my ambition is to continue my practice as an artist.”

Antje is currently studying for a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Fine Arts (BA/BFA) conjoint degree.


Owen Conner


"I chose to come to Elam School of Fine Arts to join a community of creative and like-minded individuals who seek to question, discuss and collectively pursue a discourse in the visual arts and society as a whole. Elam offers an open and research-focused environment, which encourages students to work together towards a better understanding of our world. At Elam I have been offered the freedom to pursue whatever field or topic interests me and have been encouraged to push discussions further into unexplored territory. I hope to further my studies overseas through the 360° Auckland Abroad Exchange Programme."

Owen is currently studying for a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Fine Arts (BA/BFA) conjoint degree.


Avigail Allan


"I chose to study Fine Arts because I have a love and passion for it, and Elam has so many resources and incredible staff to nurture that. A highlight of studying here is definitely the tutors, lecturers and technicians who really push me to extend my ideas, apply myself and have fun in making! I've really learned to expand my thinking of what art is; pulling in and learning from all fields of study – science, philosophy, politics, the list goes on! I'm definitely hoping studying at Elam will take me overseas but there really are so many resources here. So far I'm loving filmmaking and performance, so a career in that area would be great, but the interdisciplinary programme at Elam means there are no limits."

Avigail is currently studying for a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Fine Arts (BA/BFA) conjoint degree.


Sione Manu Finau Faletau


"I chose to study at Elam School of Fine Arts because I wanted to carry on making art after school. Elam stood out for me because it is the most prestigious art school in New Zealand.

"The courses offered at Elam help nurture and develop your creativity, through lectures and critiques where valuable feedback is given to help you on your way.

"When I graduate I plan on working as a practising artist both internationally and in New Zealand. I plan on doing postgraduate study and hope to gain a Master of Fine Arts in the near future."

Sione has recently completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) (BFA(Hons)).


Rebecca Frogley


"After finishing high school, I knew I wanted to be involved in a creative field. I chose to study Fine Arts at Elam in order to develop my artistic practice, both in terms of the ability to view art critically and to articulate my own ideas effectively within contemporary art. Elam offers a supportive environment, which encourages an open dialogue that takes place through group critiques and between students. Engagement with Elam's experienced staff and my peers has been integral to the development of my own body of work. I am currently in my second year of the degree, and my experience thus far has been challenging and rewarding."

Rebecca is currently studying for a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA).


Levi Brinsdon-Hall

"Elam’s great reputation as an art school, as well as its course structure, the brilliant campus location and the world-class facilities available were reasons why I chose to study here. The creative freedom that Elam encourages has lead me to develop strong skill bases in a variety of creative mediums (including film/timebased, photography and sculpture).

"Anything can be made possible in Elam and there are few limitations to what you can specialise in. The staff are extremely knowledgeable, helpful and keen to help me realise my ideas. Because I am doing a conjoint degree with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Geography, this flexibility has allowed me to use the knowledge gained through Geography papers and apply them to a contemporary art/creative context. Elam has not only allowed, but has encouraged me to find a place where I can make these two seemingly binary passions meet. Opportunities to study and travel abroad are very exciting and I am planning on doing an exchange to America for second semester 2013. When I graduate I plan on continuing to apply myself in this way through the creative industries of film or photography."

Levi is currently studying for a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Fine Arts conjoint (BA/BFA).


Fine Arts postgraduate students and graduates

Profile image of Roman Mitch in the Elam studios.

Roman Mitch


“The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programme is largely self-directed. This was quite important for me because I have already sustained an art practice for some time. One of the main benefits of studying at Elam is the generosity of the staff and other students. You just don’t get people ready to dedicate so much time and thought to your work anywhere else.

“I’ve also had the opportunity to tutor first-year students while completing my MFA. This combination has been really good because I’ve been forced to unpack things at multiple levels. It’s interesting because I feel that I am learning nearly as much from teaching as I do in the MFA programme. I think this is because I’m trying to use the masters programme to find ways of speaking about and making art that are as precise and simple as possible.”

Roman Mitch recently graduated with a Master of Fine Arts (MFA).

Toby Raine

"The most enjoyable part of studying at Elam has been the opportunity to be taught by, and develop relationships with, some of New Zealand's most respected artists...The knowledge I've gained keeps me excited about my work and unafraid to step outside my comfort zone."

Toby Raine is currently studying for a Doctor of Fine Arts (DocFA).

Jessica Pearless

Having completed her BFA here nearly a decade ago, Jessica Pearless returned to Elam School of Fine Arts to study for a Master of Fine Arts, graduating in 2010. In between, she worked in the commercial world of fine art in New Zealand, auctioneering and fundraising for public art programmes affected by the Christchurch earthquakes. Currently she is focused on making and exhibiting her own art, and is also working as the inaugural artist in residence at Artists Alliance in Ponsonby, Auckland.




Seung Yul Oh

Seung Yul is filmed with a pair of his Oddooki Children under the glass dome at Gus Fisher Gallery. Inspired by children's weighted toys that always right themselves, these bright ornithological pieces effortlessly straddle the commonly separated realms of enticing interactive toy and high art sculpture.

After graduating from Elam School of Fine Arts in 2006, Seung Yul quickly gained a profile as a multi-disciplined artist with his painting, drawing, sculpture, sound and video. He has exhibited at Starkwhite Gallery, Auckland, the Auckland Art Gallery, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery (New Plymouth), the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and The NewDowse.