Raising a glass to a new career

Raising a glass to a new career

From growing up in a family business to working for a world-renowned glassmaker in Italy, mature University of Sunderland graduate Antonis Koutouzis is proving it is never too late to change your life.

Antonis, 39, from Greece, only graduated with a Glass and Ceramics MA this year but has already landed his dream job as a glass technician for the prestigious Berengo Studio in Murano, just north of Venice.

“I came from Greece, doing a job that wasn’t fulfilling for many years and I took a shot at my dream,” Antonis said.

“It ends up those dreams can become reality, and all this happened here, at the University of Sunderland.”

Having been born into his family business, Antonis spent most of his life selling and producing engraved crystal. However, in 2016, no longer able to ignore his dream of being an artist, he decided to take a leap of faith and apply to study at Sunderland.

At the age of 33, Antonis moved to Wearside to begin a Glass and Ceramics degree before completing his Masters five years later.

“I wanted the best for my future, so I chose the best place,” he said.

“My time at the University was amazing. I had the opportunity to use the exceptional educational facilities within the National Glass Centre, and the tutors and technicians are top of their field.

“During my studies, I could see a huge effort has been made from the city council and the creative industries to make Sunderland an arts hub, which is very promising for the future of the city.”

Thanks to the University’s Futures Fund, which helped Antonis with living and travel costs, he was able to accept an unpaid internship at Berengo in August this year. Just two months later, he was offered a permanent position.

“People could refer to it as luck, others as hard work, others as being at the right place at the right time; I choose to acknowledge that all three played their role,” Antonis said.

“Berengo is a place in Murano where artists, designers and creatives from every discipline realise innovative works in glass, and I am lucky enough to be part of the realisation team, which is in charge of the making process, while still developing my own practice as an artist.”

The National Glass Centre is opening its doors to prospective Glass and Ceramics students this Saturday (Nov 6th) as part of the University’s Open Day at the Sir Tom Cowie campus, St Peter’s.

Antonis has this message for anyone thinking of signing up: “The course is very well designed and gives you the opportunity to identify what you truly want to become within the glass and ceramics industry.

“You can become a designer, a maker, an artist or a teacher or even a mixture of all this. The freedom of options it offers in addition to the expertise of the academic staff make it one of the best courses in the UK.”

Cate Watkinson is Programme Leader for MA Glass and Ceramics at the University of Sunderland, recently shortlisted as University of the Year, in this year’s THE – Times Higher Education – annual awards.

She said: “Antonis has been a dedicated student throughout his university career, developing striking work always with thought-provoking concepts. He has honed his technical skills to a very high level, taking full advantage of the great facilities we have here in the Glass Department.

“We are very proud of his achievements to date. Securing an internship at one of the most prestigious studios in Murano is a great achievement in itself, but then to go on to be employed there speaks volumes.

“He is a great advocate for the undergraduate and postgraduate Glass and Ceramics programme, showing what can be achieved with creative ability and dedication to the field. I have no doubt that his career will go from strength to strength.”

You can find more information on the Open Day here.

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