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Stan Harland has graduated at the age of 80.

Stan Harland has graduated at the age of 80.

Fine art graduate achieves lifelong ambition at age 80

19 July 2023

Stan proves it’s never too late to fulfil your goals

A talented art student has described how he was inspired to achieve a lifelong dream after completing a three-year degree and graduating from Manchester Met at the impressive age of 80.

Stan Harland who studied BA (Hons) Fine Art at Manchester School of Art spoke of his experience studying alongside contemporaries aged almost six decades younger as his ‘biggest challenge’, but one he loved.

Stan, originally from Manchester and now living in nearby Rossendale, found a passion for art as a child, but put his hobby on the back-burner when he left school at 15 and began working as a printer. Three years ago he plucked up the courage to apply for the University’s Fine Art degree, and hasn’t looked back.

He said: “I’ve loved my time at university, and I’ve been amazed at how I’ve worked with all the other students who can cope with computers! They’ve inspired me, and hopefully I’ve inspired them along the way too.”

Stan with his art.

Speaking of his time studying at the second oldest art school in Britain, he added: “To have been able to study in this art school where Adolphe Valette and LS Lowry painted has been so lovely. It’s made me feel very proud.”

Stan is a mixed media artist working with a variety of materials and objects that he incorporates into his paintings and installations. He experiments with off-cuts like flooring and cardboard, as well as masonry paint, ash and sand to achieve a more textured effect.

Citing his inspirations as the cityscape, landscape and human figure, Stan said: “My style is bold, unafraid, inquisitive and difficult to pigeonhole. I love the excitement of the processes, the experimentation, the materials, the mistakes and the surprises.”

Manchester Met’s Head of Design, Shelley McNulty, added: “We are extremely proud of Stan and his achievements. At Manchester Met we welcome students from all walks of life and all life stages, and it’s encouraging to see students like Stan pursuing their ambitions, and succeeding.

“Stan’s commitment and dedication has impressed everyone here at Manchester School of Art, and his amazing creative outputs speak for themselves.”

Outside of his University studies, Stan is a member of the Rossendale Valley Artists and has his own studio there. He’s been involved with exhibitions including the Rossendale Art Trail and Our Green Planet at the Whitaker Park Gallery.

Following his graduation at the Bridgewater Hall this July, he aims to continue on his art journey, with plans afoot to paint landscapes and trees, which he’s even hoping to send to famous tree enthusiast King Charles III.

He said: “I enjoy the experiences of being out of my comfort zone and the challenges these bring. Studying art at university has opened my eyes to a whole new way of looking at the world. I paint and draw for myself but hope my audience may feel some of the emotions I try to convey in a visual way.”