Every artist needs inspiration, and Malaysian student, Shu Han Chen, has found it at the University of Tasmania’s (UTAS) historic Hunter Street campus.

After completing the UTAS Foundation Studies program, Shu Han has now embarked on a Bachelor of Fine Arts to pursue her love of abstract painting. Each day she studies in the colonial building, punctuated with modern design and artwork, right on the Hobart waterfront. ‘The Hunter Street campus is opposite a port and it’s so relaxing to walk to university because of the sea views. It’s a beautiful building – the space is really special’, says the Johor native.

Drawn to study in Australia for its open-minded culture and support for the arts, Shu Han is thriving in her studies. ‘UTAS provides a lot of opportunities to fine arts students. Painters get their own well-equipped studios,’ explains Shu Han, ‘and the arts community is really involved, so I’ve met a lot of interesting people’.

But it’s the encouraging class environment that has really impressed her. ‘The School of Fine Arts goes beyond teaching technique, the lecturers truly support creativity and ideas. That’s what makes UTAS special and it allows me to develop into the kind of artist I want to be.’

Each day in class, she develops the skills to refine her artistic practice even more. ‘Studying at UTAS has given me a guide on how to present my ideas as an artist, to learn how to research thoroughly and to know how to develop my ideas so that I can produce better artwork’, enthuses the fine arts student.

Inspired by the vibrant art culture in Tasmania, Shu Han is never short of artistic inspiration. ‘There are a lot of cultural events in Hobart. A particular love of mine is the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA). As a student you get free entry, and they often have new exhibitions’, she says.

After a year in Australia, Shu Han seems to have well and truly made Tasmania home: she works part-time at a local dessert cafe and has a casual job at UTAS as an international peer leader helping other international students transition into UTAS life. ‘It’s very rewarding’, she says. ‘I can totally understand how international students feel when they’re in a new country and far away from home and I’m very happy to be able to support them.’

‘I tried very hard to practice my English when I arrived and the locals are so patient and really listen to you, which I really appreciate. I’ve met a lot of great people who have made me the person I am today – from local and international students to lecturers. The UTAS Foundation Studies course gave me a base to practice my English, understand Tasmanian culture and connect with the local community’, she says.

During her time in Tasmania, Shu Han has travelled to some incredible Tasmanian destinations, the stunning Maria Island being one of her favourites. ‘The sea is an incredible dark blue and the sand is so soft’, she says. ‘I loved the remarkable cliffs – they are huge and beautifully patterned. We had so much fun climbing over them!’

What does she most look forward to this year? The chance to feature her art work in the student exhibition at the end of the year. ‘The Hunter Street campus has two galleries, one for students and one for artists in residence. The first student exhibition gives you the opportunity to feature your artwork alongside established artists, and you can even sell your artworks in the gallery store!’, she says.

Explore your creative side with a Bachelor of Fine Arts or discover more high quality courses at UTAS.