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’.