History of Art


We chat to Wen Xiao, the new President of the UCL History of Art Society

3 November 2020

We caught up with second year HoA student and new President of the History of Art Society, Wen Xiao.

Wen Xiao

Hi Wen, thanks so much for talking to us! Can you tell us a little about yourself? 

I am a second-year BA History of Art Single honours student. I grew up in different places, so I am a bit "all over the place" too. Outside the classroom I study many "random" things: from economic theories to classical music, from Buddhism to the writing of comedy… I love knowing a bit about everything. Right now, I am learning French and Japanese, helping to run a small family business and occasionally doing some translations for Chinese galleries. 

We have lots of new students who are starting university at a strange time. Based on your own experiences, what advice do you have for new students? 

Since we are all humanities students, I think it's vital for us to understand that absurdity is the normality of life~ In fact, freshers’ year is full of uncertainties and difficulties in normal times too. The good thing about now is you have more private time and space to discover yourself before diving into the craziness of a "normal" London life. Nevertheless, it is okay to not be fine. Do reach out when you need help. We are all in this together and UCL does provide students with lots of support.

Congratulations on recently becoming the President of the History of Art Society – can you tell us more about this? How can new students get involved?

The History of Art Society is run by an elected group of students from the History of Art department. The election takes place at the start of each academic year and everyone can participate. We hold regular academic, career, and social events. This year most events will be online so do follow our social media platforms for updates! We are on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Anyone interested in these events can come, it does not have to be a student in the History of Art department! 

What do you most enjoy about studying History of Art at UCL? 

Resources and challenges. I remember studying art history in Australia, there was always a “longing for Europe” in the class because you rarely get to see famous artworks in person without flying for 20 hours. Being in the centre of the art world has its pros and cons. Though I do feel small and lost from time to time, I have never regretted my decision of coming to study here.  

Finally, what are your plans for this year? What will you be focusing on? 

I am trying not to be too ambitious! My primary goals are to stay healthy and to provide everyone in the History of Art Society with interesting activities.