School News

Artist and Entrepreneur Catherine West Delivers GEM Lecture

13th December 2023

On Wednesday 13th December, we were thrilled to welcome alumna Catherine West (OG, 2007) back to Wakefield Girls’ to host a GEM lecture for our Year 11 students. 

For our eldest Key Stage 4 students this year is a pivotal time to reflect upon next steps; whether that might be A-Levels, vocational qualifications, and potential career paths. 

As part of our Pathways To Success programme we provide plenty of opportunities for students to discover a variety of industries, and to listen to the journeys of our alumna and gain their insights which are very often transferable across industries. Students can listen to career interviews with our alumna at any time – available on our Instagram page. Similarly, we host webinars, in-person lectures and workshops, careers insight week, plus many more… 

Discover more about our Pathways to Success program here

During the GEM lecture, Catherine went into detail about her journey since leaving Wakefield Girls’. She studied a Fine Art foundation course at Leeds Art University and then went to Goldsmiths, University of London. Initially working in copywriting and marketing, Catherine then returned to her passion for art: launching a ceramics business ‘Pottery West’ in 2015 alongside her husband. 

She discussed her motivation for launching her own business, which she described as ‘accidental’: friends were approaching her to buy her ceramic creations, and her sister urged Catherine to set up a business. Hence, she was driven by her passion for clay and this has led her to being an entrepreneur and running her company for the past 8 years. Catherine also highlighted the importance of social media for marketing and conveying storytelling within your craft; something which piqued the interest of our technology-savvy students.

A key takeaway message for students was not to underestimate the value of Foundation courses, especially for the arts. They provide an opportunity to develop a portfolio in a variety of art specialities, whilst confirming one’s love and passion for the industry. Similarly, Catherine encouraged students to gain work experience by contacting artists, this allows for a solid understanding of the field before pursuing a Higher Education course. 

Mr D Eggleston

Deputy Head: Teaching and Learning

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