Clare College Cambridge

History of Art

Sophia Luu

Sophia LuuI’m from a school in Croydon that didn’t offer Art History and discovered it as I wanted to find a subject that allowed me to draw from many different academic disciplines. Honestly, I was terrified of applying to Cambridge, but at my interview at Clare I realised that the scary lecturers were just a myth and tried to relax and enjoy myself. Clare wants to encourage unconventional thinking and most departments are open to you coming to their lectures and learning something new – something which I think is essential in a broad topic like History of Art.

I like to fancy myself as a novice graphic designer – I took a year out before coming to Cambridge to really explore making art and did an Art Foundation at Kingston University. These skills have taught me to appreciate craftsmanship whilst studying here.

Sometimes, us Art Historians are a little bit misunderstood. Many people don’t know what we do or worry they aren’t ‘educated’ enough to understand what they should be looking at. But I believe that through studying art, we become more empathetic and culturally aware, both of our own time and of history. We don’t just look at the history of paintings or sculpture, we look at the meaning behind why art was created in the first place, the philosophy of aesthetics and the technical aspects and developments in visual culture – which extends to buildings, pots, telephone boxes and even the FedEx logo!

‘Art’ is a very debated and vague term – but we can use this to our advantage. Its broad definition just goes to show how much art surrounds us and how much meaning is hidden beneath what is on the surface. I am in the process of setting up an Art History Zine to try and share these ideas with the public.

Clare has been a wonderful place for me to achieve this. Not only does the college have a grants system but the Director of Studies, Tutors and other students are so friendly and open-minded. For me, college is a fun and relaxing home, and my department a place for academic study and socialising. Some of my most interesting conversations about the history of art have been with people who don't study the subject at Clare.

When I’m not thinking about these things, I am a publicist for the theatre, do bouldering (badly) and try and grow turnips with the Clare gardening society. Most importantly, I am one of the Welfare officers for the college. Clare really made me feel at home and so is somewhere I care about and I want to give back to. If you came here, even just to visit for a day, you would totally see why.