On International Women’s Day 2018, a big thank you to these artists who have inspired our students by visiting us in Falmouth to talk about their practice as part of the Falmouth School of Art Guest Speaker Programme.
Snow has brought much to a standstill here in Falmouth…Our campuses are currently closed, no teaching is taking place today. Snow on this scale is very unusual for Cornwall, so a bit of an event. With routes leading to our campuses treacherous with ice and compacted snow and buses stopping service due to road conditions, our staff and student safety means business as usual isn’t possible today. However…snow shots from yesterday!…
BA(Hons) Drawing students from all years are exhibiting work during February and March in the Shelterbox Visitor Centre, Truro.
Course Coordinator & Senior lecturer Isolde Pullum says, ‘The students were very moved by their recent visit to Shelterbox. I think it really hit home to many of them the importance of an immediate response to an emergency situation. The idea to make drawings that could raise money came from them, and the theme of Temporary Housing seemed broad enough to encompass a range of different approaches and ideas.’
‘Also in the exhibition are The History Box drawings, which aim to capture the passage of time by including elements of change and movement within the same drawing. A drawing, unlike a photograph, has the potential to encompass time passing by the artist’s reaction to changes. The staff and students really welcome this opportunity to work with Shelterbox and hope it can be the start an ongoing relationship.’
All the drawings on display can be bought, some for as little as £10 each, with all the proceeds going to ShelterBox. Visitor Experience Assistant Ellie Howell-Round says, ‘This is very generous of the Drawing students, and the artworks are fascinating and thought-provoking. Everyone can empathise with the people that ShelterBox helps, as we all fear extreme weather and appreciate the importance of safety and shelter.’
The first year BA(Hons) Drawing students transformed their studio to create a pop up exhibition, curated by John Howard, Associate Lecturer. The exhibition was held in the drawing studios and featured over 100 drawings from the students’ first term of work and covered a wide range of subjects and artistic techniques.
The students worked together to prepare the space for the exhibition. First year student Maria Meekings felt that this process shifted the collective vision from viewing their work as practice pieces, to viewing the pieces in their own right and she was excited to get feedback on her work. “Being able to present work to fellow practitioners and the wider public is gratifying in that it helps you understand that as an artist you are part of a community and that your work exists in a context of both other pieces of art and as something which others can take pleasure or interest in, and not merely as art for its own sake.”
The exhibition also prompted discussion among the students about what they had learnt during this first term of immersion, their response to each-others’ pieces and the aspects of the course that they had most enjoyed so far. Maria says “Being able to explore a variety of techniques and viewpoints has been quite fascinating and useful I feel to understand myself as an artist and the work I want to produce. I think that the understanding in many ways is just as important as the work I’ve produced, if not more, as that is part of my future while each piece finished is automatically assigned to my past.
Reflecting on the process of drawing, Senior Lecturer Peter Skerrett considers that it can be a very introspective activity. “Having the opportunity to share this practice with a wider audience enables the students to see their work from a critical distance, almost like encountering it for the first time. This increases their ability to understand their own and their colleagues work from a more critical and reflective viewpoint.”
Isolde Pullum, Course Coordinator for BA(Hons) Drawing, was impressed with the students’ professional manner and the way in which they worked together to put the show up in a very short space of time. She was also delighted with the quality of the drawings produced so early in the course, during which time they have created work on location during study visits to Tresco on the Isles of Scilly, The National Trust’s Trelissick, Trebah Garden and Paradise Park wildlife sanctuary. They also visited ShelterBox in Truro to prepare for an upcoming project for next term.
There will be more opportunities for the students to develop their professional practice and to exhibit their work, as future exhibitions are planned for the Fox Café on the Falmouth Campus.
An Hour to Sing – A Journey of Following by Kym Martindale and Caroline Blythe, is a collaboration featuring drawing and writing, published in Edition Three of Elementum Journal.
Caroline Blythe, a recent BA(Hons) Drawing graduate of Falmouth School of Art, and Dr. Kym Martindale, Senior Lecturer in Falmouth’s School of Writing and Journalism have, over the last three years, been collaborating on a project that has sought to explore and respond to Edward Thomas’s In Pursuit of Spring, an account of a bicycle ride from Guildford to Somerset in 1913.
Between 2012 and 2017, poet and cyclist Kym Martindale began the pursuit of Edward Thomas, riding and writing parts of Thomas’s journey from Winchester to the Quantocks in Somerset. In 2014, Caroline Blythe joined in, equipped with OS maps, and a copy of In Pursuit of Spring, and set off to explore and discover the landscape and locations described in poetry and prose by Martindale and Thomas.
For practical reasons both Kym and Caroline split Thomas’ journey into three distinct areas, visiting these when time allowed, following Thomas on bicycle, foot and at times by car. They recorded snippets of time and place – observing and notating the landscape as they travelled. The result is a collection of poems by Dr Kym Martindale and drawings by Caroline Blythe recently published in Edition Three of Elementum Journal.
We talked with Caroline and Kym to find out more…
Caroline says, “It has been an absolute pleasure to discover and explore both the countryside in the south of England, described so beautifully by Edward Thomas, and also respond to and work with Kym’s wonderful poems, while at the same time recording my own visual observations. As I travelled through the locations described by Edward Thomas and Kym, capturing fleeting moments in sketchbooks, I kept thanking them for introducing me to these beautiful and interesting places. It was a privilege to experience the landscape through their eyes as well as observe for myself. It was a fascinating process. Perhaps the most exciting visual outcomes from this project evolved through this collaborative working process which led to the creation and compiling of palimpsests – an interleaving of tracings of drawings.”
Kym adds, “This research project combined two great passions of mine, poetry and cycling. In Pursuit of Spring describes a landscape on the brink of change, but it is the cradle too of so much of Thomas’s poetry, and an index to the man himself. The poems and drawings are ‘re/tracings’ of journeys made by Thomas, then myself, then Caroline, through a landscape that is constantly changing economically, politically, and aesthetically. And about halfway through the project, we suddenly realised that although we each travelled alone, we were also together in the journey we were making. I am sorry in some measure, that we have arrived.”
Elementum, founded by Falmouth MA graduate Jay Armstrong, is a biannual publication of new writing and visual arts that explores the natural world and our role within it. Through folklore, literature, poetry, science and specially commissioned art and photography, Elementum quietly brings the reader back to what really matters by nurturing our connection to the natural world and the myths that surround it. The theme of the third edition is ‘roots’ and explores our origins and what sustains us.
BA(Hons) Drawing and BA(Hons) Fine Art students recently returned from a study visit together to the Venice Biennale, and responded by creating a student-led pop-up exhibition in the attic of Falmouth Campus’s Belmont Studios. Work included drawing, painting, print, photography, sculpture and installation.
The visit gave students from the two courses an opportunity to spend time with those on a different course at Falmouth, and the group fit much into their time. 2017 graduate Abbie Hunt, who was supported by Falmouth School of Art and the British Council to undertake a British Council Venice Fellowship, had been in touch with the students to make recommendations based on her experience of working at the Biennale for a month. And exhibiting in this year’s Diaspora Pavilion were Falmouth Visiting Professor of Fine Art, Hew Locke and fellow Falmouth alumna Libita Clayton.
BA(Hons) Fine Art student Richard Christensen provided his response to some of the highlights, and some great images of the visit:
‘Our arrival in Venice was inauspicious, late on Monday evening with a biting wind which made for an uncomfortable ride in the vaporetto to San Marco. The wind continued into Tuesday, together with plenty of rain, and found its way into the exhibition spaces of the Arsenale, where there were few warm spots for retreat. But by Wednesday the wind had gone, and for the rest of our stay the city was pleasantly autumnal.
Much of the Arsenale site consists of a long series of halls which must once have been the dockyard workshops. The exhibitions here were organised into loosely defined themes (‘the Common’, ‘the Earth’, etc)…the openness of the themed pavilions created both variety and dynamism, with a multitude of thought-provoking and visually arresting works in all media.
The British pavilion had a painting-sculptural installation by Phyllida Barlow called ‘folly’. Energetic, exuberant, more than filling its space and spilling outside the building, it was certainly not lacking in ambition.
An area of undoubted strength at the Biennale was the consistently high standard of video art. Video is now clearly in an age of maturity, with professional production values and themes which speak to their audiences with clarity. Several works at Venice are operating at the boundary with cinema in terms of the scope of their ambition and their technical standards.
Although there was little live performance art at the Biennale, the one piece which I saw was remarkable for its power and intensity. The German pavilion was an almost empty space apart from a raised glass floor and glass panels separating some of the rooms. The audience, on entering the building, hardly knew what to expect. The four performers, initially positioned around the main exhibition hall, moved together and then separated in successive bursts of energy and slow deliberation, in a loosely structured narrative of encounters and separations.
At times there was intimacy, at others the threat of violence. Even though much of the performance took place in and among the audience, at no time was there any interaction with it. And despite the intensity of the piece the expressions of the performers were impassive throughout – indeed, this impassivity was what gave it much of its power. And at the end, when the four performers disappeared, their wordless drama, maintained over an hour and a quarter, left the audience exhausted by what they had seen and experienced.
Two and a half days in Venice could never provide much more than a taster of what the Biennale had to offer. I could easily have spent a whole week or more there taking in the art. And as for the city… I’m sure I could devote a whole year there just to exploring its endless maze of alleyways and canals.’
The Venice study visit is one of a number of optional overseas trips offered to undergraduate students of Falmouth School of Art during their studies. BA(Hons) Drawing have also in recent years visited Amsterdam, and BA(Hons) Fine Art have previously visited Berlin.