Sarah Younan

Sarah's ceramics study increasing the magic of museums

When globetrotter Sarah Younan was choosing a university, she came to Cardiff Metropolitan because of the internationally renowned facilities and staff at the Cardiff School of Art and Design.

Originally from Germany and raised in Kenya, Sarah transferred to Cardiff Met in 2009 after completing the first year of her Bachelors degree in the Netherlands, and has never looked back.

Sarah said: "Cardiff School of Art and Design was recommended to me as a leading institution in the field of ceramics, and my experiences have all reinforced this.

"I love studying at Cardiff Met because it's big enough to have really impressive, cutting-edge resources but also small enough to allow everyone to access them.

"I never planned to stay and study for so long; I'm just having too much fun to stop!"

Sarah enjoyed her BA Ceramics course so much that she stayed at Cardiff Met to study at Masters level and is now undertaking a PhD.

Her MA work used 3D scanning and printing technologies to create digital and 3D printed copies of an antique snuffbox, creating a large installation of ceramic chains and copies which has since been displayed at the British Ceramics Biennial.

She said: "What I love about these technologies is that they allow me to touch things which I can't copy in a physical way – I couldn't make a plaster cast of a museum artefact!

"I really enjoy pushing the boundaries of traditional ceramics work, playing around with technologies to see how existing artworks can be re-interpreted.

At PhD level, Sarah is now investigating how rapid prototyping technologies and 3D editing can be used to foster new types of artistic intervention in museums.

Through her studentship with the Wales Institute for Research in Art and Design (WIRAD), she has forged a partnership with the National Museum of Wales and is creating digital models of artefacts from their ceramics collection.

Sarah said: "I'm just so grateful to everyone at Cardiff Met for supporting me in this really exciting project, helping me to secure research funding and introducing me to vital connections like Andrew Renton, the museum's Curator of Applied Arts.

"My PhD supervisor Dr Cathy Treadaway has been particularly helpful; as English is not my first language, I know I can go to her with my initial ideas and she will show me how to shape them into the right academic form."

Sarah's PhD work takes inspiration from Dean of School Gaynor Kavanagh's notion of museums being not just places for learning and socialising, but also a creative space where people go to daydream, think and remember.

She said: "Digital technologies have been used extensively to improve the learning and socialising aspects of museums, but more needs to be done to develop museums as 'dream spaces' for creative engagement."

Sarah plans to create an installation at the National Museum displaying digital and 3D prints made in collaboration with other artists next to the original artefacts, to present visitors with re-interpretations of the objects and their stories.

Under the spotlight:
2006 German Abitur in English, Art, German, History and Biology
2007 Internships in art restoration and stage design in Cologne
2008 First year of BA Ceramics in the Netherlands
2009 Transferred to second year BA Ceramics at Cardiff Met
2011 MA Ceramics at Cardiff Met, funded by WIRAD
2012 Started PhD at Cardiff Met, funded by WIRAD
2015 Anticipated completion of PhD project

Find out more about PhD and research opportunities at the Cardiff School of Art & Design.