Magdalena Olchawska

Magdalena Olchawska is a graduate of our Public Art and Performative Practices MA. She talked to us all about her journey, as well as her transition back into education.

Why did you pick London Met and particularly your course over other institutions and courses? 

In 2021/22, I did a top-up year in Theatre and Film. During that year, I worked with Dr Jacek Ludwig Scarso, the Public Art and Performative Practices course leader. I enjoyed working with him immensely and wondered if perhaps I should try something different instead of doing an MA in filmmaking. After talking to Jacek about doing an MA with him, I strongly felt that it was the right thing for me to do.

I chose London Met for my top-up year as only a few universities offered a top-up year in film or theatre. Personally, I think a top-up year is a fantastic way to help people go back to higher education without having to study for another degree to complete their undergraduate studies.

Did you feel supported by the lecturers on your course? Can you give us some examples if so?

Some lecturers supported me a lot with developing ideas and helping me grow and expand as an artist. The support was never in the form of them telling me what to do but instead asking questions and guiding me towards finding my own answers and figuring out where my path was leading me. Dr Jacek Ludwig Scarso, Sid (Andrew Siddall), and Dr Anna Marazuela Kim have been phenomenal and working hard at helping me see what I couldn’t see for a long time.  

Public Art and Performative Practices is a unique course; what attracted you to studying it?

Jacek (Ludwig Scarso), the course leader, was the person I wanted to work with and learn from. When I learned that Sid (Andrew Siddal) was also teaching that course, I knew I made the right decision. They both have been so supportive during my top-up year and offering the type of teaching I like the most.

Since I came from a working environment with very rigid rules that need to be followed to produce a project to near perfection, it has been such a relief to my creative self to finally be able to relax into my creativity.

The uniqueness of the course is that the students come from such a great diversity of creative practices and backgrounds, which helps to build cooperation rather than competition. The support and hands-on approach to projects throughout the year work was fantastic for me. This is the best way to learn. The number of projects I had to present has given me a starting point to carry on developing those ideas before taking them to the next level.

Currently, a lot of my energy goes towards re-designing “Another Way…” workshops, which I created for our cooperation with the London Festival of Architecture 2023 and Aldgate Connect. So watch this space!

How is this MA course helping you to develop as an artist? 

It has helped me think beyond my discipline, embrace other mediums and finally recognise that I spend most of my creative career as a multimedia artist, not only a filmmaker. It has given me confidence in my own creative instincts and expression.

Why did you decide to continue your postgraduate studies at London Met after completing your undergraduate degree here too?

I wanted to keep working with Jacek and learn from him, so staying at London Met to study wasn’t a difficult choice. Besides, public art can’t be studied everywhere and is not a very common subject. Every art needs to engage the public, and it felt to me that public art would help me develop my creative practice and broader understanding of my art and my creativity.

Do you work on any personal projects alongside your studies, or have you done any work experience while studying? If so, would you be happy to discuss any?

When I started my studies, I was already running my creative practice. My ongoing projects have been School Runs, which focuses on financial growth and independence, especially for women in the creative industry and Ecotopia Universe, which centres on environmental and sustainable actions that can be easily implemented on a small budget. Both multimedia projects keep growing, changing, and evolving with me and my understanding of my creative path.

What has been your favourite project or work you’ve worked on so far?

I’ve made a list of projects I developed during my MA, which I think have potential for further development. At this point, I can’t say which one has been my favourite as there are elements that I like and dislike in all of them. The project I’m currently developing is called “Another Way…” which is a creative self-paced workshop that could be implemented across many different institutions and in many different settings, including personal creativity growth path.

Any tips for new students who might be thinking about studying Public Art and Performative Practices at university?

Be prepared to work hard. Time flies really quickly, so try to soak up as much as you can during your studies. If you are coming from a creative practice, be flexible and open to ideas, suggestions, and changes that might happen in your soul that will influence your approach to creativity, projects, and your creative practice. Know that whatever projects you come up with during MA, you can go back to and re-develop them, so even if they aren’t “perfect” for the submission deadline, don’t worry about that. Just learn from each project and the feedback that follows. 

Do you know what you’d like to do in the future or which career path you’d like to take?

I want to continue growing and developing my multimedia creative practice much more flexibly. I want the projects to lead the way instead of having my constrained pre-conceptions to lead the way. I’ve always wanted to run a successful creative practice, so that will be my focus for the foreseeable future. 

Do you feel like this course has enabled you to progress in your chosen career path?

Absolutely yes. It has helped me open up creatively and become more flexible and in touch with my creative intuition. I’m finally in a place where I can make decisions and take action instead of waiting for something “magical” to happen.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your time at London Met that isn’t covered above?

If you decide to study Public Art and Performative Practices, you need to focus on learning and exposing yourself to the unknown, which was very hard for me initially. Coming from a filmmaking background meant planning was the key, as even the slightest mistake meant time and money. Now, I focus more on my creative intuition instead of following rigid plans.

Focus on pushing your boundaries, and you might surprise yourself. Ask questions and be willing to listen to the answers. Take full advantage of all the events London Met organises and get involved with the Students' Union.


"It has helped me think beyond my discipline, embrace other mediums and finally recognise that I spend most of my creative career as a multimedia artist, not only a filmmaker."