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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Associate Lecturer Virginia Verran: Showing in London

Virginia Verran, Associate Lecturer on BA(Hons) Fine Art is showing two large paintings in Rules of Freedom, curated by Rosalind Davis, at Collyer Bristow gallery in Holborn, until 19 February 2019.

Virginia Verran’s paintings suggest other-worldly battlefields and virtual warzones that show the traces of action and process, of a personal world of invented motifs and symbols. Multiple perspectives, aerial scanning and surveillance, lines and motifs track back and forth between nodes. These paintings and drawings utilise signs and symbols that work at a percussive, graphic level, sitting on the surface of ungrounded spaces, adding celebratory, playful and dark undertones. Drawing has played an important role in this layering of information, bringing across to the paintings an intuitive language. Rhythm and gentle light, exuberance and complexity of information are necessary components, giving way, to darker elements of disruption. Impermanence is alluded to via ‘encampments’, equally working as lumps of colour, existing alongside more permanent structures. Striped ‘ladders’ pass through like conveyor belts and metaphorical ‘toy’ bombs are plugged in at the edges. All represent threats to general security and stability. Fluidity and control are Verran’s primary focus.

 

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.

Fine Art Senior Lecturer Neil Chapman – recent practice.

Dr Neil Chapman, Senior Lecturer in BA(Hons) Fine Art at Falmouth School of Art, was recently among contributors to a Speculative Art School event.

The Speculative Art School is a public programme of free talks, walks, discussions, workshops, study sessions and sonic explorations that explore provisional territories in past, present, and future thinking. It was curated by Sarah Bowden who runs the Hardwick Gallery in Cheltenham.

Neil contributed a written piece specifically for The Speculative Space; the event provided a public opportunity to browse a  compilation of speculations and proposals submitted by some of The Hardwick Gallery’s favourite thinkers in a form of independent group study.

Dr Neil Chapman is an artist, writer and researcher. His current work explores material textual practices, artists publishing, art/philosophy interdisciplinarity, questions concerning visuality, collaborative method, the evolution and politics of art-research.

 

Linda Scott: Illustration research and my teaching practice

Linda Scott, Senior Lecturer on BA(Hons) Illustration, has recently returned from Northern Portugal, where for the fourth year running she has had a paper accepted by CONFIA, an Illustration and Animation Conference hosted by the University IPCA. Here she talks about the importance of her continued research in Illustration to her teaching of Falmouth’s undergraduates.

‘CONFIA is unique in being one of the few conferences of its kind dedicated to the subject area of illustration. The range of themes within the broader subject, however, is eclectic, and researchers present topics that range from social, political and cultural themes to the more technical and methodological aspects of illustration and animation.

The research I have undertaken over recent years has been fundamental in deepening my appreciation of and understanding of the important role illustration has in the communication and dissemination of challenging themes. Participating in international conferences has exposed me to a range of perspectives and Illustration practices previously unconsidered and the knowledge acquired is invaluable within my teaching practice, which covers both studio based teaching and theoretical dissertation supervision. Sharing my evolving knowledge of the subject with students has lead to stimulating conversations and often reciprocal sharing of books about challenging themes, which currently is an area many students are reflecting upon.

My own research pathway is currently driven by political, ethical, environmental and philosophical analyses of illustration, from historical and current perspectives. In particular I have explored the role that illustration and arts activism might play within the field of bird conservation. My starting point for that was a trip I made to the hunting grounds of Malta with a group of artists, illustrators, musicians and film makers headed by documentary maker Ceri Levy; I had previously participated in a group exhibition collective known as ‘Ghosts Of Gone Birds‘, which showed its first exhibition in the Rochelle Gallery in London.

In recent years, I have been drawn time and again to uses of Illustration as a vehicle for powerfully communicating challenging themes. My presentations at CONFIA over the past four years have included themes embracing climate change, the use of illustrated picture books to teach philosophy and critical thinking skills to primary aged children and in July 2018, my presentation focused on the challenging themes of Colonialism and Imperialism within illustrated books, as viewed through a ‘post colonial‘ lens.

In November 2017 I travelled to Nancy, France to make a presentation at ‘Illustrating Identyties‘, a conference hosted by the University and conceived of with founding members of The Journal Of Illustration, an important peer reviewed publication. The theme of this presentation was about challenging themes within children’s picture books and included subjects such as death, domestic violence, feminism and environmentalism.

My own exploration of the importance of the role Illustration plays in illuminating challenging concepts, ensures I can encourage my students to continue to deepen their own relationship to the practice of illustration and the understanding that it can be a powerful tool for social , political and cultural change’.

 

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

SCOOP: 3rd Year BA(Hons) Illustration Students Published !

Four 3rd year BA(Hons) Illustration students – Lucy Rivers, Katherine Harris, Jasper Golding and Sam Hinton – have had their work published in SCOOP magazine, ‘The Human Body’ issue.

The students made an industry visit to London in April 2018 and the industry connection was made with Luana Asiata, Creative Director & Designer of SCOOP magazine. All the illustrations were then completed whilst studying at the Falmouth School of Art .

Scoop is a magazine aimed at 7 to 12 year olds that publishes all forms of story, told by the most fantastic authors and illustrators and designed to inspire and nurture a love of reading. William Boyd in The Guardian called the magazine ‘A transforming experience.’

 

Falmouth School of Art student exhibition at Porthmeor Studios, St Ives

Following a month long residency at the historic Porthmeor Studios in St Ives, six second year BA(Hons) Fine Art students are opening their studio space to the public for an exhibition of their resulting work.

Exhibition - Artists in Residence - Porthmeor Studios July 2018

Olivia Brelsford-Massey, Holly Doran, Sofia Fernandes, Samuel Morris, Sophia Rosenthal and Edward Spencer were selected for the opportunity of a month long artist residency at Portmeor Studios. With the cost of studio hire and a materials bursary funded by Falmouth School of Art, the residency will provide these students with an invaluable experience of working within a professional studio culture.

As well as being home to acclaimed contemporary artists, Porthmeor Studios has a long history of prestigious inhabitants. The studio provided for this student residency – Studio 5 – has perhaps the most compelling heritage of any artists’ studio; it appears to have been constructed around 1895 for Olsson’s School of Marine Painting, but is best known as the studio used for 50 years by two of the most influential painters of their generation – Ben Nicholson, followed by Patrick Heron.

The residency is delivered by Falmouth School of Art in partnership with Borlase Smart John Wells Trust, as part of a series of residencies and professional practice opportunities offered to students studying BA(Hons) Fine Art at Falmouth University.

The exhibition will feature an Opening Evening on Saturday 28 July between 5-9pm, and continue with two further days on Sunday 29 and Monday 30 July between 10am – 5pm.