Catching up with last year’s summer Intensives participants

Falmouth School of Art is currently accepting applications for its summer Intensives – 5-day studio-based courses for artists and art educators. We’re always bowled over by feedback from participants at the end of their week with us, but we have just caught up with some of 2016’s participants to ask them to reflect on their experience nine months on…

Burgundys in project space – Gwenyth Fugard

Abstract Painting participant Gwenyth Fugard highlighted the benefit she had felt of being among a group of artists for the week, having worked alone for three years since graduating in Fine Art from Central St. Martins. She also experienced a development in her way of working, as a result of the environment and structure of the course: ‘Though my own practice does not respond to abstracting from life, I found the projects set were hugely beneficial. I was taken away from my usual methodologies and the studio spaces provided were fantastic [and] enabled new approaches and ideas to develop quite quickly’. After finishing the Intensive last summer, Gwyneth successfully applied for a place on an MA at City & Guilds London Arts School.

Oversized Raincoat, by Karina Barrett

Wales-based artist Karina Barrett, who took the Figure Painting course, similarly valued the experience of community that shaped the Intensive week: “I enjoyed working in a studio with other artists – something I have not done since graduating” Within that context, she recalls, ‘I found the tuition to be of the highest standard and incredibly informative. As a professional, working, painter, I gained a lot from the advice given to me by both Jesse [Leroy Smith] and Ashley [Hold]’. Figure Painting participants also commented that the opportunity to work from a model for whole week was something that they couldn’t easily replicate as part of their day to day routine.

Amanda Jackson chose the Abstract Painting Intensive in order to develop her mostly figurative practice in a more abstract direction, and the course made such an impression that she will be joining us again this year. She observes, ‘The course gave me many ideas and processes, through tuition, critique and lectures, to set this development in motion’. In addition to this, she too cites working alongside other artists as an important benefit to her: “…the great experience of spending a week with other artists, to explore my own ideas but have others’ input and critique and discuss work and network with artists, some of whom I am [still] in contact with via social media’.

Amanda has continued with her practice, and has found the influence of the Intensive staying with her in her work, “Almost a year on, I have continued the work started in Falmouth, enjoying pushing my work ever further into abstraction. I have found that since the course, my work is much looser; I spend more time developing the work through direct painting – that is, exploring ideas on the canvas and seeing where it might lead – rather than planning and replicating.

Her week at Falmouth has resonated in her subsequent studio practice, as well as in the work she has produced since last summer: ‘I am more focused on my work, spending longer in the studio, so the course has given me discipline as well as inspiration…The back drop of the garden and grounds at Falmouth, which was used as a starting point for abstract paintings on the course, has led to a body of work that will be shown this summer as part of Leigh Art Trail’s 20th Anniversary show’.

For many, the Intensives have provided the opportunity to work differently than they would in their own home or studio environment, with learning and experiences that have lingered and resonated in their continued studio practice. For London-based Val Coumant, ‘[it] was exactly what it said on the label – intensive. I haven’t worked so hard since my Psychotherapy training in the 1980’s. Or with such absorption and excitement’. But for Val, ‘the greatest insight was how the pieces I liked best were fortuitous rather than planned. It was like the Zen story about learning to paint bamboo: you go and live in a bamboo grove, and watch the bamboo in spring, summer, autumn and winter; in the morning, at noon, in the evening and in the moonlight; in mist, rain snow and sunlight, year after year. And then you go away and forget about bamboo. That’s when the painting starts’.

2016 Intensives participants relax in the walled garden with a cream tea.

The lasting impact of the week of focused creative activity is something we hear repeatedly. Karina noted, ‘I find that the advice of my tutors still echoes in my head, while I work…along with the memories of a truly fantastic week’.

For more information or to make an application to Falmouth School of Art’s Intensives – this year offered in Abstract Painting, Figure Painting and Observational Drawing, see our website:

www.falmouth.ac.uk/fsaintensivesThe application deadline is 28 April.

BA(Hons) Drawing take Amsterdam!

BA(Hons) Drawing students recently returned from a study visit to Amsterdam. Second year student Esme Bone and Emma Edwoods share their experience of the trip…

‘We were given the opportunity to go on a study trip to Amsterdam with our course. We spent five days exploring the city and experiencing the culture. We had the chance to visit many of the art galleries that Amsterdam has to offer, including the Van Gogh museum, the Rijksmuseum and the Stedelijk, spending time in the galleries and museums drawing and taking inspiration from the artists and artefacts.

Our hostel was next to Vondelpark; this was a really great location, because we were walking distance from many of the attractions. It also made it really easy to go and explore on our own, knowing that we could get back in no time if we needed to. The area was beautiful and really easy to get around.

We spent our evenings getting food together as a course or in smaller groups – it was nice to get to know everyone a little better. If you are ever given this opportunity I would definitely recommend it – just watch out for the bikes!’

 

 

BA(Hons) Drawing Forum 23 February 2017

Peter Skerrett and Claude Heath (far right) discuss a structural drawing built by students

Falmouth Senior Lecturer Peter Skerrett and artist and Visiting Speaker Claude Heath (far right) discuss a structural drawing built by students

BA(Hons) Drawing invited artist Claude Heath to join students and staff in the studios, where several collaborative drawings took place during the day. Drawings made included two large narrative pieces responding to poet works about the refugee crisis and World War One, a three-dimensional root-system structure made from rolled paper, and a ‘remote’ life drawing class where the model was placed in another room from the students, testing recall and memory.

During the morning, drawing stopped as students and staff listened to a conversation between Claude Heath and BA(Hons) Drawing Lecturer Dr Joe Graham, in which they talked about the validity of drawing as a means of legal communication, using a drawing of the Apple iPad as an example.

Claude also gave a lecture to students and staff from across Falmouth School of Art. Many thanks to Claude Heath from all of us at Falmouth for a very enjoyable and successful day.

Students plan collaborative drawing

Students plan collaborative drawing

Joe Graham in 'Variations' - a project about drawing movement

BA(Hons) Drawing Lecturer Joe Graham in ‘Variations’ – a project about drawing movement

Students and Claude Heath during the Drawing Forum 2017

Students and artist Claude Heath during the Drawing Forum 2017

Claude Heath and Joe Graham in conversation at the Drawing Forum

Drawing Forum Guest Speaker Claude Heath and Falmouth Lecturer Joe Graham in conversation at the Drawing Forum

A welcome return to Falmouth for author and illustrator Posy Simmonds

Posy Simmonds, pictured at the launch of the Big Draw Weekend on October 22, 2010 in London (AFP Photo PETER MACDIARMID)

Posy Simmonds, pictured at the launch of the Big Draw Weekend on October 22, 2010 in London (AFP Photo PETER MACDIARMID)

Posy Simmonds joins us at Falmouth School of Art on 1 March in the next of our Guest Speaker events. It’s a welcome return for Simmonds, an Honorary Fellow of Falmouth University, and the author and illustrator of books for adults and children, including Literary Life, Tamara Drewe, Lulu and the Flying Babies and Fred, the film of which was nominated for an Oscar.

Tamara Drewe, (c) Posy Simmonds

Tamara Drewe, (c) Posy Simmonds

Simmonds made her name with a series of weekly cartoon strips for the Guardian from 1977; her acclaimed graphic novels Gemma Bovery, and Tamara Drewe were both serialised in the paper before their publication as books, and both have since been adapted into successful feature films.

Fred, by Posy Simmonds

 

Simmonds’ style for adults gently satirises the English middle classes. Her books often feature a ‘doomed heroine’, much in the style of the 18th- and 19th-century gothic romantic novel, to which they often allude, but with an ironic, modernist slant.

Simmonds’ carreer as a children’s author began in 1987 with Fred, the tale of the death of a domestic tomcat who, to his owners, appeared to have done little more than eat and sleep all day, but who had in fact by night been pop superstar ‘Famous Fred’, adored by thousands of fans

Further reading / listening…

Listen to Posy Simmonds interviewed by Gil Roth in 2015

Posy Simmonds on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, from 2008

Read Tripwire interview with Posy Simmonds from 2008

Read an extensive Posy Simmonds profile from 2012

Posy Simmonds will be talking at Falmouth University on 1 March 2017, Lecture Theatre 1, Falmouth Campus, 5pm-6pm 

Click here to register (free, but required) through our Eventbrite page.

Recent projects – BA(Hons) Drawing

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’.

Alice Howard and Sarah Standen sight-sizing

Alice Howard and Sarah Standen sight-sizing

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’.

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BA(Hons) Drawing first year Tresco study visit

drawing-tresco-jw

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…

d310e7d0-4f65-49fc-8086-07de71c8cdec‘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 1ecc4de0-eab6-44bd-933d-82f09c2e247ethe 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, tresco-briefing-copybut 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’.

 

BA(Hons) Drawing student illustrates oesophago-gastric anastomosis technique for Derriford Hospital

Second year BA(Hons) Drawing student Hannah Berrisford has completed work with the oesophago-gastric 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 Oesophago-gastric 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’.

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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 Oesophago-gastric 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.