Securing multiple appointments with editorial giants such as The New York Times and Wall Street Journal is one thing. Receiving commissions from such renowned companies whilst still a student, immediately after showcasing your work to the directors, is quite another.
After a hectic day in New York pitching portfolios to art directors from a broad range of companies, Illustration students prepared to wind down for the evening. But one student, Tom Paterson, secured an opportunity that could be the first step into a successful editorial career.
On the strength of his portfolio presentation, Tom was offered the chance to create an illustration for a New York Times online article, the deadline for which was the next day.
Tom explained: “The article I was sent had a lot of great imagery. When creating editorial illustrations, I always tend to lean towards conceptual illustrations rather than literal interpretations of the text, as the image has to speak on its own but also must reflect the core ideas of the text.”
The piece, entitled ‘The Soul-Crushing Student Essay’, explores the dissolution of university students’ ability to write in a subjective format, the private “I”. On his creation, Tom reflected: “I had a few ideas in mind, most of which pictured the student chiselling themselves out of a block of paper. The final illustration has a more refined version of this concept, as the essay the student writes is being stacked into a shape resembling their head.”
Our undergraduate illustrators have the opportunity in their third year to attend the New York agencies study visit; after returning home, Tom was notified of another exciting prospect requiring his particular skills. The Wall Street Journal needed an illustration for their upcoming Off-Duty summer issue. He said: “In the space of three weeks I’ve worked for two of my favourite publications. I’m going to be constantly networking with more art directors and sending work out to potential clients.
“I can’t emphasise enough how well the tutors on the course have prepared us all for the real world of illustration. I’ve also found that the focus on conceptual thinking and strategies has changed the way I think about creating images. I now spend 70% of the time sketching and generating ideas, instead of focusing all my time on just creating a pretty picture.”
Second year BA(Hons) Fine Art student Bianca Cocco was recently awarded a two-week internship supporting the opening of the Groundwork season of international art in Cornwall. Supported by funding through Arts Council England’s Ambition for Excellence scheme, Groundwork is organised by CAST (the Helston-based Cornubian Arts and Science Trust) in partnership with Kestle Barton, Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange and Tate St Ives.
Bianca reflects on her experience…
‘My 2-week placement at CAST as Groundwork intern allowed me many opportunities to gain insights in how multi-site exhibitions can be organised. Many staff members and volunteers were artists and students, so I made a few new acquaintances and the conversations were quite enlightening. It certainly broadened my horizons and I discovered a great deal about the local art community and gleaned insights into what could lie ahead after graduation.
My first day as intern involved some hosting for the resident artists at breakfast before they set off to install and talk about their work with staff and volunteers. That day was extremely busy and involved preparation and placement of roadside signage about the events around Helston and surrounding areas – it was important to ensure visitors were able to locate the various sites. There was also much to do at CAST as building works had just finished and the spaces needed clearing.
During the opening weekend I travelled to various locations such as Godolphin House, Goonhilly Earth Station and Kestle Barton, where my primary role was greeting and guiding guests to the exhibitions. The atmosphere was lively and positive – I really enjoyed myself and didn’t notice how long the day had been when it culminated in Andy Holden’s evening performance at AMATA at the Penryn campus.
Subsequent days involved invigilating the various exhibition spaces and works by Steve McQueen, Semiconductor, Simon Starling and Christina Mackie. Invigilation can give you a chance to spend prolonged time with artworks and it was particularly relevant for me as most were AV-based and this is my main area of interest. Christina Mackie’s work at Godolphin was rich and mysterious so I was grateful for the opportunity to study her work in detail and read press material relating to her installation.
Overall, I gained a deeper understanding of the effort involved in organising exhibitions and it enhanced my appreciation of the works and institutions involved. I would highly recommend pursuing work placements at some stage during study as it helps to ground you and offers realistic expectations of how life can unfold after graduation. My experience at CAST was invaluable to me and I’m grateful to have been able to contribute in some way to the success of Groundwork’s opening week’.
Groundwork Coordinator Josie Cockram commented, ‘Groundwork internships support people at the beginning of their careers to gain experience working alongside the team in the delivery of an ambitious programme of international art. We’ve been delighted to work with Falmouth University students working as interns and volunteers. Bianca was a big help during our opening weeks and we’re very pleased that she will stay on board as a volunteer invigilator as the programme continues’.
With an emphasis on moving image, sound and performance, the Groundwork programme of exhibitions and events in 2018 includes presentations of important new commissions and acclaimed works by internationally celebrated artists in venues and outdoor sites across West Cornwall. Volunteers are welcomed as the programme continues – to find out how to get involved, visit the volunteer section of the Groundwork website.
Falmouth School of Art student Alice Howard collaborated with her good friend and BA Photography student Georgia Hunt in the development of The Drawn Exchange, an art group involving residents at Abbeyfield Residential Home in Falmouth.
Georgia, a final year student of BA(Hons) Photography, had wanted to develop a photography workshop with residents after she discovered that some were creating beautiful artistic work in the privacy of their bedrooms. Georgia described as an immense privilege the access she gained to the private world of this community, but her plans soon broadened. She says, ‘The initial plan to begin a photography workshop was scuppered as I saw a greater need to encourage drawing, the most basic yet fundamental form of seeing. The purpose then shifted to center on relationship, the relationships between the residents and their relationship with drawing’. It was here that Alice became involved. A 3rd year student on BA(Hons) Drawing, Alice brought a love of literature and a foundational understanding of drawing, which underpinned the art group model, based on emotional awareness and creative freedom. Similar to the practice of Art Therapy, the emphasis lay in the process of making art. The success was in the quality of relationship as opposed to the final outcomes. The Drawn Exchange was born.
Each week the group got together around the living room table, with materials selected by the residents. The sessions began with an exercise to engage the emotional mind, to invite and express the unseen and then – responding to how they felt – they began to draw. Sometimes they worked with their non-dominant hand to activate the right hemisphere of the brain, to stimulate emotions, to open up a channel for feeling and to encourage emphasis away from the visual aesthetics of the drawing. Georgia says, ‘I think of it as preparing the ground for further art making to occur, yet it was often the most profound. There is a raw and unknown quality that emerged through the drawings’.
The art group worked predominately from imagination and memory and the residents communicated their internal world, bringing a shift from emotional to physical. Georgia says, ‘The magic of drawing is that it has the capacity to bring to life those fading fragments of memory, unfolding like silent stories on paper’.
Alice introduced poetry into the group, to act as a catalyst for sparking memories and understanding feelings, which could then feed into drawings. Alice says, ‘In a number of sessions, we did collaborative drawings between two people. Starting from a poem enabled the drawer to delve deeper into their emotions sparked by that poem. The collaborative aspect meant that as the paper was turned and we each worked into the other’s drawing, it was no longer about responding to the poem but to the other persons drawing’. The drawing became a form of exchange.
The culmination of the project was a showcase of the work made and curated by the Abbeyfield Art Group. The exhibition was shown in the communal areas at the Abbeyfield Residential home to the joy and acclaim of residents, students, and visitors. Georgia and Alice intend to explore the possibilities of continuing elsewhere the model they have developed here in Falmouth, following their graduation this summer.
This year the John Moores Painting Prize is celebrating 60 years. Named after sponsor Sir John Moores (1896-1993), it is the UK’s best-known painting competition, and culminates in an exhibition held at the Walker Art Gallery every two years, forming a key strand of the Liverpool Biennial.
The John Moores exhibition is held in partnership with the John Moores Liverpool Exhibition Trust, and showcases some of the best contemporary painters from across the UK.
Sir Peter Blake became the first Patron of the Prize in 2011 and says, “The John Moores is one of the most prestigious art competitions in the UK and winning the Junior Prize in 1961 is one of the achievements of which I am most proud.”
Virginia Verran was born in Falmouth and has taught Fine Art since 1990. She is an Associate Lecturer on Falmouth’s BA(Hons) Fine Art course, and also teaches at Chelsea College of Art and Design. In 2010 she won the Jerwood Drawing Prize and this year her entry in the 2018 John Moores Painting Prize is titled ‘Black Star’; a large piece measuring 6ft x 5ft6ins. She lives in London and works in her studio in Bethnal Green.
BA(Hons) Illustration Senior Lecturers Linda Scott and Natalie Hayes recently accompanied a group of second and third year students to Bristol, for a week-long trip focused on studio visits, professional practice talks and workshops, as well as an exhibition of work produced by them during their visit in response to a brief.
Falmouth Alumni Dave Bain, who graduated in 2006, as established himself in Bristol as a lynchpin of the thriving Illustration scene. As well as being a successful Illustrator, Dave is responsible for setting up illustration studios in Hamilton House (in the Stokes Croft area of the city) and the Illustration Collective, ‘Drawn In Bristol‘.
A good number of Falmouth Illustration alumni have relocated to Bristol, as an alternative to London; many have studio space in Hamilton House, which Dave modeled on the Falmouth course’s studio set up. Our students were given a tour of Hamilton House, and also The Island, a converted police station on Nelson Street.
At Hamilton House, Illustrators Lara Hawthorne, Paula Bowles, Freya Hartas and others talked informally about their experiences as Illustrators since graduating; at The Island, collective Sad Ghost Club talked about collaboration, the merchandise they produce and what brought them together as a group.
Coordinating the visit for us, Dave Bain booked The Square Club as a meeting space for us, and as venue for speakers Lara Hawthorne, Joe Roberts and Laurie Stansfield, who are working together and have developed a mentoring scheme suitable for graduates who are unable to work in studio spaces and who might otherwise be subject to isolation. Joe and Laurie meet monthly to support one another with projects and business, holding one another accountable for developing projects and setting schedules. Dave talked about his experience setting up the studios and working collaboratively, and spoke about his role as a ‘connector’ of people, bringing them together to develop public realm projects which directly benefit the local community.
Before their trip, students had been given a brief, focusing on themes of Regeneration and Collaboration. The culmination of their research was the formulation of visual outputs for exhibition in the Space Gallery, in the Old Market area of Bristol. Student exhibits ranged from 3D objects to customised shirts, a video and a 3D mobile.
A private view of the exhibition followed a final day of workshops, from Tom Newell of Limbic Cinema. Tom digitised drawings from students’ sketchbooks and mapped and projected these onto plinths and walls; he taught students how to do the same, with the outcome being several visual collages projected onto 2D and 3D spaces.
We commend our students for their high level of engagement throughout this intensive professional practice study visit, and for their participation even when treacherous weather threatened to impact heavily their activities.
Featuring work from many Falmouth School of Art alumni and former staff, this specially curated collection of preparatory sketches, observational drawings and works on paper in pencil pen, charcoal and paint are accompanied by large scale works, sculpture, video and conceptual ideas in a range of media, alongside a documentary film in which the artists discuss their own approach to drawing.
NSA member Peter Webster, a former Senior Lecturer on Falmouth School of Art’s BA(Hons) Fine Art course, says, “An expanded definition of drawing is the fundamental ambition of the show. Drawing is now such a wide-ranging practice we thought it would be interesting, revealing and exciting to see how our artists engage with it’.
The NSA can be a useful next step for graduates, and welcomes applications from Falmouth University graduates and staff.This exhibition features work by Falmouth School of Art alumni Sue Bleakley, Clarissa Both, Sandra Boreham, Una D’Aragona, Jack Davis, Marie Clare Hamon, Jack Paffett, Julie Moss, Dan Turner, Duncan Walters and Pippa Young. Jack Davis has been selected by the NSA committee to have his work featured in the Upstairs Gallery, in a part of the exhibition curated by fellow Falmouth alumnus Dan Turner. Former Falmouth staff exhibiting in the Tremenheere show are Phil Booth, Sue Kinley, Gareth Edwards, Angie Munro, Peter Webster and David Westby.
See NSA Drawing Explored from 5 – 30 May at Tremenheere Gallery, Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens,
Gulval, Penzance, TR20 8YL, including a special opening event from 2pm on Saturday 5 May.
Printmaking workshops are also offered as part of the exhibition. £5 for 2 hours on 12 May, booking required, see the link for details.
The studios are cleared, third years have moved in with paint, tools and the labours of their final year and are already transforming the spaces into what promises to be a diverse and vibrant degree show from Falmouth School of Art this year.
Students of BA(Hons) Drawing, BA(Hons) Fine Art and BA(Hons) Illustration will open their shows to the public on Friday 25 May, including a launch that evening, 6-9pm, all welcome. As well as final degree work from our third years, separate exhibitions will showcase work from our first and second year BA(Hons) Illustration and BA(Hons) Drawing students.
The shows will be open as follows:
- Friday 25 May, 10-4pm
- Friday 25 May 6-9pm exhibition launch, all welcome
- Saturday 26 May 10-4pm
- Sunday 27 May 10-4pm
- Monday 28 May (bank holiday) 10-4pm
- Tuesday 29 May 10-4pm
- Wednesday 30 May 10-4pm
Get the dates in your diaries and we’ll see you in three weeks!
For details of all Falmouth University summer shows, see the website.