Reflections on a Venice Research-Steward Fellowship…

Abbie Hunt, graduate of BA(Hons) Fine Art and recipient of a 2017 Venice Fellowship, funded by the British Council and Falmouth School of Art, reflects on her experience of one month living in Venice as part of the British Council’s Research Stewardship Programme at the 57th Biennale Arte


‘I don’t think I knew what to expect until my first day on the job, but that was the exciting part. Stewarding is hard work; I never anticipated the endurance of standing in a corner of a room, observing the visitors, observing the work. It’s mentally draining to be with your thoughts for so long. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t stop, so for my job role to suddenly be so stationary was a shock.

Furthermore, I never realised how little the ideas surrounding art fell away when you become a Steward. You spend such an unnatural amount time with a piece of work that you have phrases of being grossly interested and unexpectedly numb towards it. I spent lull periods scribbling personal observations down, but when it came to discussing the artwork with a visitor, it was as if I was reciting a script. People wanted a 3-minute summary of the work before they moved onto the next pavilion, there was no time for contemplation and it was strange to be so detached.


Entwining my research project with my stewarding duties made my experience so insightful. I focused on observing visitors’ reactions and opinions surrounding Phyllida Barlow’s Folly. I was already well versed in Barlow’s career, therefore the experience contributed to my work as a form of practical research.

What I gained from the Venice Fellowship was an intense period of learning about myself. I have never traveled alone before and it completely changed my perspective on how I acted. I didn’t feel like a tourist but neither a local, and it was strange limbo I endured whilst discovering things about me as a person that I have never noticed before. It was an emotional roller-coaster, but I think I’ve gained a greater understanding of who I am.

Overall, I think I gained confidence and independence. Talking to strangers on a daily basis and having the knowledge to pass on to others was a good feeling because I’ve never had the opportunity to do so before. Giving people an insight or starting point to lead them through the maze of art within the Biennale was satisfying. I’d see their face light up with understanding and know I’d made a difference to their experience.

Similarly, confidence fed into my research project. It was an opportunity to collate research and write about my findings without the baring of education. Research is a guilty pleasure and it was strange to realise I still had the motivation to learn without the bounds of getting a grade at the end of it.

The biennale has a hub of social activity on throughout the time it is open; other countries create events so stewards can mingle, and are very appreciative when you make the effort to join in. Reflecting on the experience would be incomplete without mentioning my extended family of my October Fellows. Our intense company definitely kept us all going and I honestly wouldn’t have been able to get through my experience without them. We’ve already met in London since being home before Christmas. Our unexpected bond of being in the same bizarre situation has gave us all such a strong friendship.

Of course the art was memorable; I’ve never been so immersed in an abundance of artwork to observe and it definitely made me speechless on many occasions. My favourite was the Intuition Exhibition at the Palazzo Fortuny. I also felt we were the luckiest of months out of the Fellowship scheme as I actually got to meet Phyllida Barlow herself! It was a huge moment for me. Just days before we were set to go back to reality, Barlow visited the Biennale with her family and hadn’t seen her own work since the opening in May. I fangirled hard and was pretty star struck. You read so much about an artist, they inspire your practice and you empathise with their work…I thought spending time with her sculptures was gratification enough but seeing her next to them in the flesh was the cherry on the top. It’s a moment I’ll never forget and just seemed like the perfect present, a personal nod to keep going after three years of my degree.

From my experience as a steward, I’ve realised that the public face of the artwork is not who I want to be; but the gallery still remains my focus. I am ideally looking towards a technical position within a gallery, since the install and de-install of Phyllida Barlow’s work was a continuous consideration. Being hands-on and retaining that essence of practice is my ideal route.’


Keiken Collective – a productive finish to 2017…

Keiken at FOMO

Keiken, a collective of artists comprised of alumni from Falmouth School of Art, co-founded by Tanya Cruz, Hana Omori and Isabel Ramos, have enjoyed success since graduation and regularly provide opportunities for recent graduates and current students to collaborate with them. Autumn and winter 2017 saw Keiken engaged in projects around the UK…  

Keiken performance and installation at Clinic //2

Keiken performance and installation at Clinic //2

Keiken’s performance and installation piece, Silicone_Animism | The Birth of Mother Digital, was presented at Clinic //2 at the Oxo Tower, London, as part of a group show for the London Design Festival. The piece included the collective’s virtual reality film @MotherDigital (Tanya Cruz, Hana Omori, Jess Pemberton, Isabel Ramos, video design by Keiken’s George Stone and sound by Oak Matthias), alongside durational performance accompanied by live sound; a truly visceral atmosphere was created by 700ok (current Falmouth School of Art students Jasper Golding, Auguste Oldham and Zac Pomphrey) using generative code, in conjunction with sound artist Nati Cerutti.

Performers occupied the installation wearing costumes designed by recent graduate, Nine Derricott. Clad in silicone pregnancy bellies and PVC and reflective 3M garments, performers, in reference to the revolution of AI, explored innate feelings of connection usually associated with mother and child, in a world where the human is intertwined with the digital. Current BA(Hons) Fine Art student Alberta Shearing wrote the score and with another student Haruka Fukao performed extraordinarily alongside other performers, Nine Derricott, Kat Cashman, Sian Fan, Monty Fitzgerald, Si Garner, Sam Hall, Coral Knights, Beth Mellet and Julia Mallaby. In November, the film @MotherDigital was transmitted into space by Jon Pettigrew as part of Planet3artnews.

Keiken at Disturbed, Hacked, Reassembled

A group show curated by Drive-Thru at Lewisham Arthouse featured an adaptation of Silicone_Animism | The Birth of Mother Digital, as part of ‘Disturbed, Hacked, Reassembled’, an event which explored how artists are employing technology to stage, interrogate and celebrate the digital female body. Keiken’s interactive installation, again with sound designed by 700ok, used VR, video and sound to trace the birth of the digital; a giant networked space fused with human interaction and technology.

The installation, representative of an office environment, featured a pregnant woman working in Silicon Valley, who has

Agatha Gothe-Snape, Every Artist Remembered with Keiken, 7 October 2017, Frieze London, Regent’s Park, London. Photo: Sofia Freeman/The Commercial, Image courtesy The Commercial, Sydney

relationships with the office furniture in an allegory of Late Capitalism and animism (video design Keiken and George Stone, sound by Nati Cerutti). This adaptation was re-exhibited by Keiken as part of ‘Hervisions’ at Second Home, London.

In other recent projects, Keiken performed in Every Artist Remembered (2017) by Agatha Gothe-Snape at Frieze Art Fair, London; in November they led a performative workshop for Goldsmith University’s BSc Digital Arts Computing, and in a return to Falmouth, they performed at FOMO, the first Falmouth Art Publishing Fair.

In January 2018, Keiken will be hosting a workshop and event under keiken° mind u as part of Vorspiel transmediale, Berlin.

First Year BA(Hons) Drawing – A Pop Up Exhibition.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


‘An Hour to Sing – A Journey of Following’

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.

Images of ‘An Hour to Sing – a Journey of Following’ by Kym Martindale and Caroline Blythe from 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.

Images of ‘An Hour to Sing – a Journey of Following’ by Kym Martindale and Caroline Blythe from 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.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

If you would like to know more about Elementum journal or purchase a copy of the publication, you can do so by visiting their website:

Student exhibition responds to Venice Biennale…

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Highlights of a visit to the Venice Biennale


Venice Biennale, Hew Locke – photo: Richard Christensen

BA(Hons) Fine Art and BA(Hons) Drawing students recently returned from a study visit to the Venice Biennale.

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:

Venice Arsenale, photo: Richard Christensen

‘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.

Venice, British Pavilion, Phyllida Barlow – photo: Richard Christensen

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.

Venice, German Pavilion, photo: Richard Christensen

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.

Tracing Granite – In Search of a White Cross

Beth Pinner graduated from BA(Hons) Fine Art in 2017. Toward the end of her studies, she applied for and was awarded the Groundwork Field Trip Residency; a five-day field trip visiting granite quarries in the south west as part of a team of academics and artists, led by Dr. David Paton. The residency was part of the Groundwork project and Beth’s place was funded by Falmouth School of Art. Beth shares her experience of the residency…

Image courtesy of Beth Pinner

‘The opportunity to take part in David Paton’s field trip, ‘Tracing Granite – In search of a White Cross’, arose when I was completing my studies of Fine Art at Falmouth University earlier this year.

Image courtesy of Beth Pinner

My art practice had developed alongside an interest and very basic knowledge on geology in Cornwall. Heavily influenced by the surrounding coastal landscape, I became fascinated by the dramatic textures and formations found in the open rock faces where the land met the sea. I was fixated on the notion of an entirely wild landscape, sculpted by nature, and made sculpture and print work surrounding these themes.

It was this (slightly obsessive) interest in rock that led me to gain a place on the 4-day residential field trip, alongside geologists, stone masons, archeologists, artists, writers – an eclectic mix of people from across the country who met, mostly for the first time, at a National Trust bunk house near Helston. With the bunk house as base for the next three nights we undertook a tour of granite quarries across Cornwall, moving to a second bunk house for the final two nights to extend the reach of the trip. Over the duration, our group fluctuated in size as people joined at various stages and quarries to share their own accounts of living and working with granite. Hearing their stories gave a more personal sense of place and insight into how granite in the south west has shaped and influenced individuals lives for generations.

Out of the eight that we visited, only two of the quarries were still in use. The six others were disused and at various stages of reclaim by nature, some so far overwhelmed that, to someone with little knowledge of quarrying like myself, any previous narrative of human interference was hard to comprehend at first. There weren’t any clear differences between the man-made rock face and the naturally formed rock face that I thought I might see. On reflection, however, the quarried sites have become increasingly obvious as man-made. If these rock faces were at the coast one wouldn’t think twice about them being naturally sculpted, but here, in land, they felt out of place, and purposeful.

Image courtesy of Beth Pinner

Having never visited a granite quarry (or any quarry) before becoming involved with this trip, I had no idea what to expect from the four days. Everybody’s enthusiasm to share knowledge fueled a want to learn more, and I have come away feeling truly inspired. Not only by the awe-inspiring places that we visited, but by all of the people that have been involved.

At the time of applying back in June, I hadn’t imagined how helpful this opportunity would prove to be in re-inspiring a desire to move forward with an art practice after university, and by connecting me to some amazing people who I now look forward to working with more in the near future. There are some great things to come from ‘Tracing Granite – In search of a white cross’ and I for one can’t wait to see them all unfold.’