The Venice Fellowships – Falmouth Partnership with the British Council

Venice Art Biennale 2017, Alicja Kwade – photo: Richard Christensen

Falmouth School of Art at Falmouth University is delighted for the third year to be a partner in the British Council’s Venice FellowshipsThe programme is a unique opportunity for students, graduates and researchers to spend a month in Venice during the world’s most important art and architecture biennales. Working with others on invigilation and developing their own study and research, graduates receive an excellent grounding in engaging a professional, public and international audience with the British Pavilion, and develop teamwork, leadership and networking skills.

We will shortly be inviting our final year BA(Hons) Fine Art and BA(Hons) Drawing students to apply for a funded month-long Fellowship at the 2019 Art Biennale. Meanwhile, 2018 BA(Hons) Drawing graduate Hannah Berrisford has recently arrived at the Architecture Biennale for her month-long Fellowship, alongside others from disciplines including fine art, architecture, design, curation and anthropology. We look forward to hearing more about Hannah’s experience on her return, and asked her about applying and preparing for this opportunity…

“The Venice Fellowship is an opportunity to live in Venice for a month, working alongside the British Council, invigilating at “la biennale de venezia” and spending free time exploring the city, developing your practice within your own personal project.

The application asked questions about why you felt you were suitable for the event, and how your personal experiences would aid you in your time out there. I was also asked what sort of work I wanted to produce in my own time, following their theme of “freespace”. I was a student of the Drawing degree, and had chosen watercolour as a medium to specialise in. I wanted to continue developing my skills as a painter in Venice, so I interpreted freespace as an investigation of the relationships between the buildings of Venice and light, and how that would translate in my watercolour paintings.  

Architecture Biennale 2018, British Pavilion, (c) British Council

Two of us on the Drawing degree were selected for an interview – there was no competitive atmosphere, only genuine “good luck”s. Because I am living in the South West of England, and the interviews were being hosted in London, the British Council were excellent and offered me a Skype interview. I had done quite a bit of research about past Biennales just in case they wanted to test if I had done any background research, but they themselves explained a brief history of the biennale, which was nice. It felt like they were wanting me to succeed in the interview and were very open. I responded to all their questions with similar answers to what I had included in my first application. I also mentioned how the themes I wanted to explore in Venice tied into my dissertation topic.

A mandatory induction involved two days in London, meeting other fellows and the groups we would be travelling with. I was placed in the final group to go to Venice – October 24th to November 26th. There are 10 of us in this group, and a significant age range and a diversity of artistic backgrounds. Even though we were all from an academic institute, everyone seemed to be studying a different branch of art varying from architecture to interpretive dance.

The weekend was centred around seminars that discussed the exhibition we would be invigilating. We were offered advice about finding accommodation and about interacting with the public. The groups got into teams and we met one another properly; it was during this time that people began sparking ideas about flat sharing/renting, as well as discussing individual research projects and when it might be appropriate to help one another. Another teammate and I have decided to flat share whilst we’re in Venice, staying close to another two teammates also flat sharing. This way, friendships will get a chance to grow, and as we’re all artists, we will have opportunities to bounce ideas off one another, helping our own projects develop.  

Even though I’m entering a biennale centred on Architecture, drawing and painting buildings is actually one of my weakest skills. I threw myself in at the deep end, to force myself to address this problem. I didn’t want to arrive in Venice and begin the project with zero architectural experience so, over the last month, I have been engaged with the “Inktober” challenge. To merge this challenge and my own personal project, I decided to relate each day’s title to an architectural theme. Forcing myself to create works like this every day has helped me feel a little more prepared for the work I’ll be creating during my time in Venice”.

2017 Fine Art graduate Abbie Hunt wrote a piece for us about her experience spending a month as a Fellow at the 2017 Art Biennale.

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Drawing staff and students present at Symposium

Artist, drawing researcher and lecturer in BA(Hons) Drawing Dr Joe Graham, and some of his Falmouth School of Art students and alumni,  presented papers and workshops at The Embodied Experience of Drawing event at The Drawing Symposium, Plymouth.

The event responded to the increasing proportion of artists in the South West working in performative drawing practice. It gathered contributors, to acknowledge and interrogate this movement and to discuss ideas around the future of drawing research, philosophy and practice.

Dr Joe Graham discussed his paper The Utility of Drawing: Drawn and Withdrawn.  “This paper sketches a nascent ontology of drawing, one that uses Heidegger to explore the idea that drawing is a fundamentally useful type of thing for those who draw. Within this understanding however, the utility of drawing appears withdrawn, so to speak. It requires being ‘drawn out’ (freed) when drawings are viewed for some purpose – as pictures, diagrams, maps, plans or other forms intended for use.”

Kayleigh Jayne Harris, a recent graduate from BA(Hons) Drawing at Falmouth University, primarily focused on the identity of line within contemporary drawing practices. Her paper  Drawing line through performance: does the drawing live as an immaterial trace, a material document, or both, through the experience of line? explored whether performative acts be identified as a form of drawing, through the acknowledgement and experience of the lines generated during and by gesture.

Bhuvaneshvari Pinto a current student of BA(Hons) Drawing and Ralph Nel (Alumni) presented a joint workshop Drawing as a Tool in Cultivating Awareness – A Workshop in Observational Drawing.  The workshop explored the idea that observational drawing nurtures mental stillness and sharpens our awareness of ourselves and our surroundings.

Video with kind permission of Stuart Bewsey

#StreetDraw24: What can you do in 24 hours?

BA(Hons) Illustration student Helen Trevaskis was among the organisers of StreetDraw24, a drawing initiative to raise awareness and money for homeless charity St. Petroc’s. So far, over £500 has been raised through donations. You can hear Helen talking to SourceFM the day after the event (Helen is introduced at 12:50)

Following the pilot event, Helen shares 24 things that this reportage fundraiser taught her and her fellow drawers about life in Falmouth, about staying up drawing for 24 hours, and about trying to do something good in the world through art.

  1. A town is not one place. Using Falmouth as a reportage location across 24 hours showed us other sides of the town we live in…From the early morning workers busy while most of us are tucked up in bed, to the fitness fanatics using Jacob’s Ladder as their personal gym, to the late night car racers partying at Pendennis Point – the town has many sides.
  2. Not sleeping sends you a bit weird. During the 24 hours some drawers went from being intensely focused to barely able to speak – let alone draw – to practically hysterical with laughter at the smallest thing, or continually hungry. Fascinating what sleep deprivation does to you!
  3. Make it fun. Along the long walk from The Moor to Falmouth Cemetery via Pendennis, we played drawing games to get our energy up as midnight came and went. The results were not artistic masterpieces (or even a record of where we were, given we could barely see) but were one of the most memorable bits of the night.
  4. Stay safe. Even though we live in a safe town, we ensured no one drew alone at night, and we kept touch with each other via a Messenger group.
  5. Talk to people. During the 24 hours many interesting interactions occurred. One group, drawing on a housing estate, talked to an elderly couple who then fed them fruit. Another got #StreetDraw24 followed on Instagram by a creative agency in London after chatting to its founder. Many more revealed how many people are themselves artists in this town. Embrace such interactions – it’s one of the joys of location drawing.
  6. Start. Many of us were not sure what to draw when we first got out on the street despite lots of great advice from reportage supremo Anna Cattermole’s blog, written for us in the run up to #StreetDraw24 (sorry Anna!). While it can be good to have a plan perhaps what’s more important is getting going, because once you do, drawing tends to have its own momentum.
  7. Mix it up. Bringing variety into how you draw not just what you draw can help give you and your work energy, particularly as the hours tick by.
  8. Be respectful. There was a point at about 1am Friday where five of us were drawing a camper van parked at Gyllygvase Beach, and realised someone was probably asleep inside! As we quietly snuck off, we imagined how weird it would have been for the occupants to find us all there, reminding us it’s important to be respectful in choosing our locations.
  9. Keep repeating your message. #Streetdraw24 is designed to raise awareness about the problem of street homelessness in Cornwall, but it’s very easy for people to miss the point. So don’t be shy about repeating the why of what you’re doing, to get it across effectively, and then repeating it again.
  10. Make it social. While drawing in pairs or a group is not something illustrators and artists normally do, even the least extrovert among us got lots out of drawing on location together.
  11. Dogs are of the day cats of the night. This is just true.
  12. Keep going. Whether you’re on location for four hours or 12 or 24, you’re not going to be in the mood the whole time and not everything you produce will be great; but we definitely saw work evolve across the 24 hours, because we just kept going.
  13. Be shamelessly opportunist. Telling everyone you meet what you’re up to before, during and after an event like this is really valuable. Not just because they might want to get involved, but also because the story of what you’re doing is almost as important as the thing itself, and the more you tell it the better it will get.
  14. Drawing from observation matters. If you’re involved in the arts, you should draw, because drawing is less about drawings and more about looking at, engaging with and absorbing what’s around you – a core artistic skill.
  15. Collaboration is an important creative skill. This time around there were only a few people from beyond the BA Illustration course involved in StreetDraw24. It’s something we’ll shake up next time, because collaborating brings new ideas, perspectives and opportunities.
  16. Wet wipes are your friend. Whether you’re using messy charcoal, find there are no open public toilets near where you’re drawing, or you’ve taken food to eat and are worried about where your hands have been; you’re going to need wet wipes during an event like this.
  17. Be easy-going. This was a pilot, so for us it was important to have as few rules as possible, so people could invent what worked for them and we could learn.
  18. Most people are really nice. They are. So talk to them.
  19. Getting the money bit right is hard. #StreetDraw24 was designed as a fundraiser and fundraising is difficult but an event idea isn’t a good one if it doesn’t make money.
  20. “The more you look the more you see”. So true.
  21. Laughing helps warms you up. Also true but you still need a coat, thick socks and a hat if you’re out all night.
  22. There are lots of ways to take part. While a small band of drawers took to the streets last week, many other people sent messages of support, donated to St Petroc’s, and ‘liked’ or commented on the images we posted. To us they were all part of the #StreetDraw24 team.
  23. Feel lucky. There are many things those of us with homes to go to each night take for granted – like having a toilet when and where you want one. It’s important to remember this is not everyone’s reality and to remember how lucky we are.
  24. Be ambitious. Next up will be an exhibition of #StreetDraw24 work – exhibition space kindly donated by the Poly– in early October. But we’ve bigger plans, too, so watch this space…

You can donate to the StreetDraw24 fundraising page, in aid of St. Petroc’s, and you can see more of the resulting work, and hear about future initiatives via the StreetDraw24 Facebook page.

StreetDraw24: Raising awareness of homelessness in Cornwall.

For 24 hours starting at noon on 23 August, a small band of students and other locals will be drawing from the streets of Falmouth to raise awareness of Cornwall’s homelessness problem, as part of the first ever StreetDraw24. Here, one of the organisers, BA(Hons) Illustration student Helen Trevaskis, talks about the motivation and intention for the initiative… 

StreetDraw24: How can art be a force for good?

‘While beyond the Tamar, Cornwall may conjure up thoughts of pasties and clotted cream, happy childhood holidays and Poldark’s semi-clad antics on horseback along a never-ending coastline, anyone who spends proper time here knows that parts of the county face many and serious social problems. One of these is homelessness, with some reports highlighting an increase of 52% in rough sleeping in the county between 2009 and 2016. While the arts may not seem an obvious place to look to for ways to bring focus onto this problem, that’s exactly what StreetDraw24 wants to do.

How? Well, the idea is simple. Over a 24 hour period, ending at noon on the 24th of the month, draw from the streets of your town, post images to social media using the tag #streetdraw24 and share a link for donations to a relevant homelessness charity. After the event, use the best 24 images – one for each hour of the day – to promote the issue of homelessness and fundraise further. Then…learn, grow, repeat!

This will be the first ever StreetDraw24 and has been organised by first year students from Falmouth’s BA(Hons) Illustration keen to feel connected to and active in the community they now live in. With an emphasis on learning by doing on a small scale, they’ve been promoting the event on Facebook and raising funds for St Petroc’s Society – a Truro based charity supporting the single homeless. Along the way advice on location based drawing, ‘reportage’, has been shared from Falmouth students and tutors alongside information on Cornwall’s homelessness problem.

Some of those taking part in the event will draw from the streets for the whole 24 hours to bring attention to the sad reality that for some the streets are their home 24/7. So, if you see a damp cold looking person drawing from the streets of Falmouth at the end of next week go and talk to them – they’ll love to share what they’re doing! Or even better – take part by checking out the StreetDraw24 Facebook page, donating to St Petroc’s Society or offering ideas for how to make the impact of this initiative even bigger’.

 

Recent Practice: Drawing Lecturer Dr Joe Graham

Joe Graham Lecturer on BA(Hons) Drawing was among the contributors to ACTS RE-ACTS,  an annual laboratory of performance, new media, workshops, lectures, discussions, events and installations.

This year Acts Re-Acts, at Wimbledon College of Art, took the form of an intensive two-day laboratory of selected performances, exploring the borderzone between Theatre and Fine Art.

Other contributors included: Eleanor Bowen & Jane Bailey, Henry Bradley, Greig Burgoyne, Angela Hodgson-Teall & Miles Coote, Richard Layzell & Bruce Barber, Jozefina Komporaly & ZU-UK & guests, Robert Luzar, Melanie Menard, Lucy O’Donnell, Ken Wilder & Aaron McPeake, Alex Reuben, Lois Rowe & The Haptic Collective, Aminder Virdee.

 

Falmouth School of Art lecturer Joe Graham is ‘in conversation’ with artist Lucy O’Donnell, March 2018.

Drawing and Fine Art alumni present new work

Alumni Theo Crutchley-Mack and Sam Wood have announced a joint exhibition showing new work based in and around Falmouth town.

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In recent months, both artists have been working on small en plein air paintings, used to develop more sustained works, all of which will be exhibited at The Poly, Falmouth, from Tuesday 24 July (including private view on 24th 6-9pm).

Theo graduated from BA(Hons) Drawing, and Sam from BA(Hons) Fine Art, in 2015. Both have since pursued their art full time, with exhibition, prize and residency success.

Theo is currently based in West Wales; he has this year undertaken a 6 week period as Artist in Residence at the abandoned whale station in Grytviken, for the South Georgia Heritage Trust. Sam now lives and exhibits in Newcastle, so it’s great to be able to see work from both artists in Falmouth once again.

Congratulations Class of 2018!!

Wow! What a fantastic degree show. After all the hard work and energy that went into the conversion of studios into exhibitions over the last month – not to mention the brilliant achievement of having created the work itself – we hope our final year students are recovering from the celebrations marking the culmination of their three years of degree study.

To mark the end of the year, Falmouth School of Art hosts an awards ceremony; a chance for third year students to come together with their peers and tutors to reflect and to celebrate one another, before joining wider friends and family for the official opening of their degree shows. The Awards recognise Outstanding Achievement, Studentship and Dissertation in all our subjects; announcement is also made of the recipients of a raft of residencies arranged by Falmouth School of Art with external partners, to provide graduating students with further opportunities to test their work in public contexts and to network with other artists.

Thank you to all our students and tutors for making this such a celebratory occasion, and we hope you all enjoyed your evening and one another’s exhibitions as much as we did.

Here we share with you some scenes from our end of year awards and the degree shows opening – thank you for your support this year.

(Class of 2018 – please get in touch if you want a high-res version of your photo).

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