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’.

 

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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

Falmouth School of Art Purchase Prize – Robin French

Artist Robin French, with a detail from his painting.

The Falmouth School of Art Purchase Prize is an occasional award made during our degree shows, whereby the School purchases an artwork from a graduating student in recognition of their achievement and the strength of their work, and in support of their continued practice. This year we are delighted to have awarded a Purchase Prize to Robin French, who has just graduated from BA(Hons) Fine Art, for his painting, Kitchen, early spring. We asked Robin if he’d like to tell us a little about the painting, and about his future plans…

Robin French – Kitchen, Early Spring, 112 x 152cm, oil on canvas

I’m very proud to have been awarded the Falmouth School of Art Purchase Prize. It is so encouraging to sell work from the show –  it has really spurred me on.

My painting, Kitchen, early spring, is important to me. I shouldn’t like to tie it down to a particular narrative but perhaps I can explain my own personal ideas behind it. The figure is my mother, crouched down to hug her dog. In the room there is a stove. The bowls and mugs are pottery she has made herself. The plants are from the garden she has carefully grown. it’s not so much a portrait of my mother. I wanted more to tap into the soul of the house she has made.

I like to use negative space, leaving large areas of the canvas unpainted. I don’t want the painting to feel suffocated in it’s meaning or appearance. If I’m successful, hopefully the viewer can share certain feelings or understandings that I’ve been working through. This could be very subtle and hard to put into words. I think successful figurative paintings have this unique ability. It’s my challenge to achieve this.

For the future, I’m trying to maximise the time I can spend painting. I’m planning a motorcycle trip where I hop between different artist residencies. At the same time, I’m hoping to find somewhere on the continent where I can rent a studio on a more long term basis.”

https://www.instagram.com/robinfrenchartist/

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’.

 

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.

Falmouth Illustrators Create Mural for Penryn Primary Academy

Second year BA(Hons) Illustration students Elleanna Bird, Sophie Freestone and Amelia Brooks recently completed  work on a mural to transform some of the interior space at Penryn Primary Academy.

The project, carried out at the school over three weeks, was a voluntary commission, enthusiastically taken up by the three friends. Elleanna commented, “We were all very keen to get started and we had lots of ideas to share. Our ideas encouraged the Head Teacher, who seemed very pleased and excited about what we had planned”. Elleanna says she feels grateful to have been involved, describing an atmosphere of encouragement and motivation; she feels that their enthusiasm in creating the work was kept high by the positive reactions of members of the school community who popped in to see how the project was coming along.

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Sophie reflects on the process of creating the pieces: “The three of us were working together on one painting, which meant all of our bizarre and strange ideas were multiplied by three! The murals happened in quite an organic way; although we had developed plans to work from, a lot of the visual elements came to life in the moment when we were drawing and painting straight onto the boards”.

Elleanna, Sophie and Amelia with Penryn Primary Academy Head Teacher James Hitchens, at the unveiling of the mural panels.

The result is a feast for the eyes – a vibrant panorama depicting creatures of land and sea, as well as Cornish motifs and legends. Sophie says, “I really enjoyed this project because of the unlimited amounts of colour and creativity we were permitted to use. In the paintings, if you look hard enough, you can spot a sea monster, a sloth playing the drums, a pair of feet belonging to a giant and a couple of dinosaurs wearing high heels!”.

The murals received a fantastic response from pupils when unveiled by the artists at a school assembly. Of the experience, Sophie said, “We had a fantastic few weeks painting the murals, and I would recommend anyone who gets the opportunity to get involved in a project such as this – local or afar – to say yes!”.

BA(Hons) Illustration Course Coordinators Natalie Hayes and Keryn Bibby have since met with Head Teacher James Hitchens and Assistant Head Chris Lee, to discuss possible future projects. They were shown around the school and discussed opportunities to involve Illustration students; from the possibility of murals for the walls of the swimming pool, production of inspirational imagery to enliven library spaces, or Illustration students working with Penryn Primary pupils on a series of creative workshops. Natalie commented, “Developing the bonds between Falmouth’s Illustration course and Penryn Primary Academy will provide our students with further excellent professional practice opportunities, and we hope will enhance the school experience for the primary pupils”.

Circle Triangle Square presents ‘Remades and Readymades’

Bronwen Anwyl, Daniel Bethell and Edward May graduated from BA(Hons) Fine Art at Falmouth in 2017. Recent work by the three artists is being shown in Peckham, London, this July.

Remades and Readymades is presented by Circle Triangle Square, an art platform set up by Edward May following his degree. The exhibition explores the aesthetic and theoretical themes surrounding man-made objects and the natural environment (and the crossover between them), in the context of the art gallery.