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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Announcing the Caroline Sassoon Emerging Artist Award

Falmouth School of Art is delighted to announce an award open to final year BA(Hons) Fine Art and BA(Hons) Drawing students, generously made by Nysha Concannon-Brook in memory of her Grandmother, Caroline Sassoon. The launch of the Caroline Sassoon Emerging Artist award coincides with what would have been the artist’s 100th birthday.

Caroline Sassoon was born Daphne Elsie Dawn Taylor on the 11th October 1918. Her discipline and drive were clear from an early age, when she won the regional ice-skating championship at just ten years old. She had lost both of her parents by the age of nineteen, their deaths falling within three years of each other. She trained to be a teacher, specialising in art. Her headmaster at Crewkern School in Somerset commented that, “she has revolutionised the conception of [art]… even those to whom this medium of expression is not natural have been stimulated by her method of approach.”

Sassoon was a fierce feminist from a young age and remained disappointed that she never lived to see women paid equally. On marrying Hamo Sassoon in 1948, she told him, in the crisp and clear way that she always communicated, she would not be spending all of her time cooking for him. If he wanted a chef, he could pay for one.

Hamo was an archaeologist which meant they lived in many different places, including colonial Africa – where in addition to their own three children, they adopted three cheetahs whose mother had been killed by hunters. During these years of travel, she illustrated the book Friends and Enemies by Naomi Mitchison, drew renditions of the local African life, and on arriving in Fort Jesus in Mombasa, she wrote and illustrated her own book called Chinese Porcelain in Fort Jesus.

Sassoon had an ever-expanding interest in all art, from cave paintings, through to David Hockney, and she was always open to modernisations within the industry. In her later years, from the age of seventy-one, she began painting coastal watercolours in Cornwall, near where she lived in Fowey. They were exhibited and sold in the Julia Gould art gallery in Cornwall.

Caroline Sassoon was someone who never saw age as a barrier, taking a course in genetics at the Open University at seventy-eight years old. She believed that you never stopped learning and that perseverance was the key to achieving clearly set goals. In her memory, the Caroline Sassoon Emerging Artist Award will make a monetary contribution to the successful student, with the intention of aiding their continuing practice as an artist following their degree studies. 

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

Recent Practice: Drawing Lecturer Dr Joe Graham

Joe Graham Lecturer on BA(Hons) Drawing was among the contributors to ACTS RE-ACTS,  an annual laboratory of performance, new media, workshops, lectures, discussions, events and installations.

This year Acts Re-Acts, at Wimbledon College of Art, took the form of an intensive two-day laboratory of selected performances, exploring the borderzone between Theatre and Fine Art.

Other contributors included: Eleanor Bowen & Jane Bailey, Henry Bradley, Greig Burgoyne, Angela Hodgson-Teall & Miles Coote, Richard Layzell & Bruce Barber, Jozefina Komporaly & ZU-UK & guests, Robert Luzar, Melanie Menard, Lucy O’Donnell, Ken Wilder & Aaron McPeake, Alex Reuben, Lois Rowe & The Haptic Collective, Aminder Virdee.

 

Falmouth School of Art lecturer Joe Graham is ‘in conversation’ with artist Lucy O’Donnell, March 2018.

Drawing and Fine Art alumni present new work

Alumni Theo Crutchley-Mack and Sam Wood have announced a joint exhibition showing new work based in and around Falmouth town.

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In recent months, both artists have been working on small en plein air paintings, used to develop more sustained works, all of which will be exhibited at The Poly, Falmouth, from Tuesday 24 July (including private view on 24th 6-9pm).

Theo graduated from BA(Hons) Drawing, and Sam from BA(Hons) Fine Art, in 2015. Both have since pursued their art full time, with exhibition, prize and residency success.

Theo is currently based in West Wales; he has this year undertaken a 6 week period as Artist in Residence at the abandoned whale station in Grytviken, for the South Georgia Heritage Trust. Sam now lives and exhibits in Newcastle, so it’s great to be able to see work from both artists in Falmouth once again.

The Drawn Exchange: A collaborative project

Alice Howard and Georgia Hunt

Falmouth School of Art student Alice Howard collaborated with her good friend and BA Photography student Georgia Hunt in the development of The Drawn Exchange, an art group involving residents at Abbeyfield Residential Home in Falmouth.

Georgia, a final year student of BA(Hons) Photography, had wanted to develop a photography workshop with residents after she discovered that some were creating beautiful artistic work in the privacy of their bedrooms. Georgia described as an immense privilege the access she gained to the private world of this community, but her plans soon broadened. She says, ‘The initial plan to begin a photography workshop was scuppered as I saw a greater need to encourage drawing, the most basic yet fundamental form of seeing. The purpose then shifted to center on relationship, the relationships between the residents and their relationship with drawing’. It was here that Alice became involved. A 3rd year student on BA(Hons) Drawing, Alice brought a love of literature and a foundational understanding of drawing, which underpinned the art group model, based on emotional awareness and creative freedom. Similar to the practice of Art Therapy, the emphasis lay in the process of making art. The success was in the quality of relationship as opposed to the final outcomes. The Drawn Exchange was born.

Each week the group got together around the living room table, with materials selected by the residents. The sessions began with an exercise to engage the emotional mind, to invite and express the unseen and then – responding to how they felt – they began to draw. Sometimes they worked with their non-dominant hand to activate the right hemisphere of the brain, to stimulate emotions, to open up a channel for feeling and to encourage emphasis away from the visual aesthetics of the drawing. Georgia says, ‘I think of it as preparing the ground  for further art making to occur, yet it was often the most profound. There is a raw and unknown quality that emerged through the drawings’.

The art group worked predominately from imagination and memory and the residents communicated their internal world, bringing a shift from emotional to physical. Georgia says, ‘The magic of drawing is that it has the capacity to bring to life those fading fragments of memory, unfolding like silent stories on paper’.

Alice introduced poetry into the group, to act as a catalyst for sparking memories and understanding feelings, which could then feed into drawings. Alice says, ‘In a number of sessions, we did collaborative drawings between two people. Starting from a poem enabled the drawer to delve deeper into their emotions sparked by that poem. The collaborative aspect meant that as the paper was turned and we each worked into the other’s drawing, it was no longer about responding to the poem but to the other persons drawing’. The drawing became a form of exchange.

The culmination of the project was a showcase of the work made and curated by the Abbeyfield Art Group.  The exhibition was shown in the communal areas at the Abbeyfield Residential home to the joy and acclaim of residents, students, and visitors. Georgia and Alice intend to explore the possibilities of continuing elsewhere the model they have developed here in Falmouth, following their graduation this summer.

 

Falmouth School of Art Lecturers selected for John Moores Painting Prize 2018

Virginia Verran, Associate Lecturer on BA(Hons) Fine Art and Peter Matthews, Visiting Lecturer on BA(Hons) Drawing, have been shortlisted for the John Moores Painting Prize 2018.

This year the John Moores Painting Prize is celebrating 60 years. Named after sponsor Sir John Moores (1896-1993), it is the UK’s best-known painting competition, and culminates in an exhibition held at the Walker Art Gallery every two years, forming a key strand of the Liverpool Biennial.

The John Moores exhibition is held in partnership with the John Moores Liverpool Exhibition Trust, and showcases some of the best contemporary painters from across the UK.

Sir Peter Blake became the first Patron of the Prize in 2011 and says, “The John Moores is one of the most prestigious art competitions in the UK and winning the Junior Prize in 1961 is one of the achievements of which I am most proud.”

Virginia Verran – current work at her studio in Bethnal Green, London.

 

 

Peter Matthews  is a Visiting Lecturer on our BA(Hons) Drawing. Of his success this year he says, “Really delighted to be showing a large scale painting at the 60th John Moores Painting Prize”.

 

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.