Recent observational projects for second-year BA(Hons) Drawing students have been developed around Falmouth Campus’s new Atrium, which houses cafe bar, canteen and social and studying spaces. The height and breadth of this new architectural space have challenged the visual skills of these more experienced students.
Meanwhile back in the Drawing studios, the ancient traditions of sight-sizing are being taught, raising the bar in terms of observational precision. These drawing classes, found daunting by students to begin with, proved hugely rewarding. Head of Drawing, Phil Naylor, commented, ‘Students describe a real sense of achievement in completing these classic exercises’.
Student Samiir Saunders said, ‘Sight size drawing surprised me in its specificity. The particular nature of the measuring process definitely brought with it a lot of history and intrigue. However, it also demanded a huge amount of patience. My favourite phase in the process was at the completion of the first stage. The drawing appeared to be nothing more than a set of horizontal and vertical lines. And yet, contained within these lines were hours of precise measuring, mapping, checking and re-measuring – such that they evoked in me a vivid image of the completed work. This superposition of realism and abstraction was truly profound and humbling’.
At the start of this term, the end of their first study block, BA(Hons) Fine Art students worked together towards an exhibition in their studio buildings. The exhibited work demonstrated experimentation and showed the development of work throughout the first ten weeks of the course. The range of practices and approaches reflected the diversity and individuality of first year students.
Exhibiting student Charlie Ash, said, ‘The exhibition provided an opportunity for students to display work in an open and informal setting; with multiple first year spaces across the campus being organised and curated among studio groups. The exhibition confirmed how much I value being on a Fine Art course which supports a wide variety of art practices – there is something exciting about seeing painting, drawing, sculpture, performative and time-based work (and everything else) occupying the same space. I think a self-organised open studio exhibition is a good format for first year students as there is no pressure to include fully finished work, but it is an insight into the practices which everyone is engaged in – beneficial both as a participating artist and a viewer’.
Fine Art students from other years, and staff from the course and across the university joined exhibitors for a well-attended opening event. The project was the first of many opportunities for students to share and exhibit their work for peers and more public audiences as they progress through the course.
Student Olivia Brelsford-Massey shared her experience of being involved in this exhibition: ‘The first year exhibition – although most of us felt like we didn’t know what to do – turned out to be a success! I found it helpful, as it’s easy to crawl into hole as an art student (that hole being the studio space), and bringing our work into the larger context of an exhibition made it easier see what everyone had been making this past term, and opened up conversations about our work and ideas. The opening night was a lot of fun, some of the students had put together food and drink and posters and invited their pals/significant others to have a look around – all of this was organised in a short space of time so kudos to everyone. All in all, putting together the exhibition as well as the work itself felt like a vital part of being an art student and I’m looking forward to the next one!’
First year BA(Hons) Drawing students braved the Atlantic swells for what has become an annual study trip on the Island of Tresco, Isles of Scilly. Students made studies in the island’s micro-environments, from the sub-tropical Abbey Garden to the weather-blitzed moors of the North End.
This experience immersed students in the challenges of drawing ‘en plein air’ from dawn till dusk (and beyond!), setting the pace for the three years ahead of them.
Student Julia Watson provides an account of the trip…
‘We set sail (or took flight!) to the Scilly Isles. Our destination was Tresco, the second largest island within the collection; we were embarking on a week-long trip to see what we could learn as ‘freshers’. On arrival, after two lengthy boat trips, we found the island had a seemingly familiar landscape, except that it was presented in such an alien fashion: parts looked as bleak as Dartmoor, but with beaches which you would expect to find in The Bahamas. This was definitely not our usual territory; it seemed practically exotic, you had to remind yourself that you were only 40km off Land’s End.
Once off the boat, we were driven to our respective housing for the week. The island was run with such efficiency that it brought to mind Centre Parcs or Butlins; island-employed staff maintained the gardens and landscapes as well as manning the gift shop, among other roles. An idyllic job if there ever was one, if you could get over the cabin fever that I suspect a long haul on the island might bring.
We were loaned bikes for the week, free of charge. This brought an odd sense of freedom as the lack of cars meant we could get around without fear of being hit. Though a member of our group did manage to tumble over their handlebars on the first day, injuring both elbows and spending the remainder of the week slightly subdued.
By bike, you could see the whole island in less than an hour. I often found myself confused, as I would think I was setting off for the other end of the island, and find myself where I began without any knowledge of how I had managed it. A quick refresh of my map reading skills rectified this, for the most part. Getting lost on Tresco never felt like a bad problem to have.
With free entry to the incredible Abby Gardens, along with amazing landscapes, there was never a lack of something to draw. We were often tasked with certain drawings to make, but for the most part, we were set loose to explore and make what we wanted.
I took advantage of the sunrises and sunsets in particular. They were consistently astounding; my roommate and I managed to make three out the five rises, at 6:30 am each time. I filmed the majority of them, capturing a lasting memory and primary resource for my work, which integrates drawing and film.
The entire week was beyond description, as it allowed us to make, and be independent whilst in an amazing environment. Plus, the last night at the pub was pretty memorable – a lot of bad swing dancing and drinking. All in all, would wholeheartedly recommend’.
Second year BA(Hons) Drawing student Hannah Berrisford has completed work with the oesophagogastric surgery team at Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, resulting in a series of illustrations to help the team demonstrate an improved anastomotic technique developed at the hospital.
Hannah was approached to draw a few frames to help illustrate the new procedure and, already interested in medical illustration, Hannah felt this would be a good opportunity to see what was involved in that discipline.
Much of what turned into quite a lengthy project, involved working at distance, from Falmouth, with a Consultant Oesophagogatric Surgeon in Exeter, sharing screens over WebEx, and using a Wacom tablet to make digital drawings, something that Hannah hadn’t felt was her forte. She worked with the surgeons using WebEx to modify the drawings as they understood their technique in more detail. Of the experience, Hannah says, ‘I learned that communication with the commissioner is a vital part of the working process’.
Hannah’s drawings have already formed part of a presentation given by the team at the International Society for Diseases of the Esophagus in Singapore, which included surgeons from Australia and the Unites States who are interested in adopting the new technique. Her clear illustrations enabled animation through PowerPoint, which showed the process without irrelevant details that inevitably form part of video.
A Consultant Oesophagogastric Surgeon at Derriford Hospital wrote to Hannah to say ‘Thank you so much for the fantastic illustrations…Thank you for your patience in working alongside us (a team of five surgeons, who have all had input to your illustrations) to produce really excellent illustrations of a difficult three dimensional procedure’.
Of medical Illustration, Hannah notes, ‘An understanding of the body is important. Had I not watched the operation on video, I wouldn’t have been able to understand why I was drawing certain things, which would have meant the project would have failed. It was a good learning experience’.
The final iteration of Hannah’s drawing will be published with the team’s paper, which is about to be submitted to the Journal ‘Diseases of the Esophagus’, an international journal with an impact factor of 2.15, cited 2370 times last year.
At the end of January, students from all three years of BA(Hons) Fine Art enjoyed a study visit to Berlin, arriving in sub-zero temperatures and heavy snow which resulted in their diversion to land at a different airport than planned.
Highlights of the trip included gallery visits to KW Institute for Contemporary Art, The Hamburger Bahnhof and visits to The Jewish Museum Berlin. Students also enjoyed a night at the legendary Berghain nightclub, described as quite possibly the current world capital of techno, named after its location near the border between Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain. Visit organiser and first year Course Coordinator Gillian Wylde said, ‘Lots of inspiration is developing out of this exciting study visit, into future art projects’.
Second year students Ella Squirrell and Isaac Aldridge shared their experiences of the trip…
Ella: ‘The first day we spent exploring the city on foot, coming across photographic exhibitions in museum island, and popping into family run cafes to rest our snowy feet. I was very satisfied with the amount of inspiring contemporary painting exhibitions in the city, particularly Tatjana Doll at the Berliniche Gallerie, ‘My Abstract World’ at the ME Collectors Room and Lawrence Carroll: ‘Under The Blue’ at the Buchmann Galerie. These three exhibitions were the most relevant to my current work; however, in a city as artistically enriched as Berlin, I sought out other exhibitions that weren’t as pertinent in their art form. There were many in in Kreuzberg, along Lindenstrasse: commercial galleries with contemporary art, a lot of sculpture, installations and video work.
On the last day, we went to Transmediale, a festival with workshops and seminars, about modern day alienation and technology taking over. These ideas relate to my interest in society coming away from nature, and about being absorbed into a modern society. We also visited culturally historic places, such as war memorials, the Musical Instrument Museum and the Berlin Wall.
I loved the freedom of the trip. Tutors would recommend places, and there were meet up points every day, but everyone very much could build their own timetable, and we shared our experiences over breakfast or as we bumped into each other in the city. The trip was very socially engaging, it allowed the three year groups to integrate naturally, and I got to know people within my course better through shared experience and conversations about the art we had seen’.
Isaac: ‘In my opinion, our study trips are a gateway into exploring your own practise further than the walls of the studio. I have visited Venice and Berlin in the two years I have been studying at Falmouth. This Berlin trip offered an open-ended itinerary, which was perfect for exploring the city’s heritage and culture as well as the art. I managed to visit all areas of Berlin, seeing the Reichstag Building, the Holocaust Museum, Brandenburg Gate and many more historical points of interest. Additionally, in the evenings I was able to explore Berlin’s famous night culture, catching the U-Bahn all over to interesting and edgy bars (and even a Techno super club!).
The art in Berlin was unquestionably admirable in all senses. From the East Side Gallery where artists had painted the remains of the dividing wall, the Hamburger Bahnhof which holds an amazing collection of masterful works including a personal favourite of mine – Cy Twombly, to the Berlinische Gallery of Modern Art with an array of works in all disciplines from painting to sculpture and massive installations, and the Bauhaus Archive which houses all variations of the art types style of work including the building itself (a long with many, many more smaller galleries and exhibitons)!
I found the most enjoyable part of the trip was the freedom to pick and choose where to visit, buddying up and exploring the city ourselves with a meet up point later in the day at an exhibition to discuss with everyone else where they had been and where they were planning to go. Having the opportunity to see these places has fed my own work in terms of seeing more than just the conventional painters I would generally seek to inform my work, and having a wider breadth of information to work from and to reference in my day to day studio life’.
Images courtesy of Jade Bowmer.
A growing collection of broken objects, to initiate conversation around the emotional value and attachment we have to something that is broken in our lives. The collection will form the beginning of a growing body of research relating to death and loss. The show includes work from current Falmouth BA(Hons) Fine Art students, alumni, and lecturers, as well as other established writers and artists. As well as work artists from the UK, the exhibition features submissions from artists from Cyprus, Tunisia, USA, Poland and Spain.
CAFE MORTE: THE TEARS OF THINGS | 11Feb – 18 March 2017 | THE EXCHANGE – PENZANCE
OPENING EVENT FRIDAY 10TH FEBRUARY, 7pm – 9pm, ENGINE ROOM: EXCHANGE GALLERY PENZANCE Join us for an evening of performance, video, objects, narrative and stories generated by Café Morte to celebrate the life of a broken object.
EVENT: SATURDAY 11TH 10.00 – 4.00 BROKEN WRITING OPEN INVITATION Members of the public are invited to participate by bringing a broken object to the gallery to be documented photographically and to write a short piece of text that will be added to the collection. The collection will form an online museum of broken objects reflecting the power that these objects still hold.
Two BA(Hons) Fine Art alumni, Polly Maxwell and Lulu Richards Cottell will be returning to install and help curate the show, and as part of their visit will also be talking to current Fine Art students about their experiences since graduating last year.
Café Morte is a research group led by Falmouth Fine Art Senior Lecturers Mercedes Kemp and Lucy Willow, involving undergraduate and postgraduate students from Falmouth University, along with other artists and curators. Its central focus is to create projects that enable audiences to discuss the rich and varied themes of death found in art and literature. This is an adaption of the recently popular model of the ‘Death Café’, which has arisen worldwide as a meeting place in which to discuss death over a cup of tea.
Café Morte provides Falmouth students with the opportunity to research and make work around a focused theme. It enhances their research capability and enables them to experience the setting up and curating of a show, work collaboratively, experience working directly with audiences and networking with established artists. Each year, Café Morte welcomes a number of new students, and continues working with alumni.
The group started three years ago, working with BA(Hons) Fine Art students at Falmouth to develop research and ideas. The second year culminated in an exhibition at the university, curated by students and showing student work alongside that of established artists. The exhibition coincided with a Symposium by Moth, a research group concerning death and design run by colleagues in Graphic Design.
The Tears of Things exhibition follows a public testing of the project at The Exchange last December.