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.

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Catching up with Katie Sims, Falmouth Fine Art alumna

Katie Sims graduated from BA(Hons) Fine Art at Falmouth in 2010. Since then she has pursued her art, enjoyed competition and exhibition success and had a spell teaching. She reflects on her time at Falmouth, and talks to us about her life as a professional artist…

Katie Sims

Describe your life since graduating back in 2010…

Things kicked off for me when I was selected for Saatchi’s New Sensations and the Midas Award, two competitions that afforded critical exposure and led to further opportunities to show and collaborate with curators and galleries. The Midas Award provided tremendous professional support during that daunting first year with the prize at that time including a solo exhibition, materials grant and yearlong mentorship programme through Falmouth University. None of this would have happened had I not entered those, proving it’s worth putting yourself forward for things.

Trinity After Ribera and Portal (Opening Gambit, Hoxton Art Gallery, London, 2010), Image courtesy of Hoxton Art Gallery

That led me to establish a working relationship with Hoxton Art Gallery (2011-13). At the time, Hoxton was a new venture and I made work for their launch show. We grew together; things went well and they asked me to be one of their represented artists. We were a good fit and shared a similar ethos so I accepted. The gallery acted as my agents, taking care of all sales, promoting my work, providing exhibiting opportunities and inclusion in key art fairs and events whilst I was able to concentrate solely on painting. For that privilege I promised exclusivity to them, and they would take a commission on all sales. One of the highlights was my solo show, Opening Gambit. I spent 9 months working toward this exhibition and to see the work in situ and how the public responded was moving. It completed the whole cycle for me.

One of the biggest challenges has been trying to create freely whilst feeling the pressure of deadlines and accountability.

I started teaching art to sixth form students in 2013 in order to have more social contact and a regular income alongside painting. Three years later, with a PGCE now done and a ton of experience and newfound knowledge about my work, and myself, I’m shifting the emphasis back to painting. My experience of teaching was brilliant, but I struggled to balance both careers with equal intensity. I still want to teach though; perhaps as an artist that delivers workshops in schools. I loved working with my students.

What are you working on now?

Fleeting Agony, oil on panel, 24x30cm (2010)

I’m working on a new body of paintings to exhibit. I’ve also been archiving my work and recently launched a new website – www.katiesims.co.uk. Revisiting ten years worth of work has been cathartic and essential, allowing me to notice which pictures resonate most with me now. For example, I made a painting whilst at Falmouth called Fleeting Agony, the first picture that was discovered through the process of painting. It remains a monument to what I’m trying to do now – taking on my historic influences, memories and experiences as they affect me now. Trying to fix the quiddity of that impression rather than objective reality.

Osmosis, oil on panel, 24x30cm (2017)

 

What is a typical day for you?

Studio, studio, studio. I need to be here and cut off from life outside in order to focus. Large parts of my day are spent thinking rather than physically painting. When I do pluck up the courage, I have a window of a few hours to get something down. It’s always been that way, even as a student. The process itself is full of risk and I’ve watched many paintings close down from overworking or overthinking them, but sometimes you have to sacrifice things in order to potentially realise something greater. I’m always learning and each painting proposes a new challenge, leading me on to the next. As I’ve matured I’ve learnt creative down time and play is as important as production, otherwise you burn out. You need to keep nourishing yourself as an artist to remain fresh and engaged. I love to walk and go off exploring new places. These trips feed my work and keep the days varied.

Trinity after Ribera, oil on panel, 30x24cm (2012) Image courtesy of Hoxton Art Gallery.

What’s next for you?

I’d like to kit out a van and create a portable studio to travel around Spain. I’ve returned to the country each year since winning The Ford Award in 2012 (a travel bursary to study at the Prado in Madrid) – it’s my second home.  As time goes on there is something about the landscape, the people, and the light that is of interest and speaks directly to me. I have a collection of drawings, some from life, some from memory which I intend to re-familiarise myself with and work into paintings too.

Why did you choose to study at Falmouth?

I needed a supportive environment where I could really focus on exploring my ideas with fewer distractions. Falmouth instantly felt right. As students we were spoilt – top facilities, resources and tutors available to us. Such accessibility and personal relationships with staff are rare to come by. It’s what makes it unique. I knew I would be a person here and not a statistic.

 

What is your favourite memory from studying at Falmouth?

There are so many, and the most precious for me seem to be in the everyday stuff. I remember walking the tree-lined passage to the Falmouth Campus at Woodlane from my home in Falmouth each day. The light present in my studio building, the buzz surrounding the campus, everyone doing something different – it was a remarkable, concentrated moment in my life. I look back with fondness. They all stay with me.

How did Falmouth influence your career?

Falmouth gave me the space required to find my own language. Its strength as a university is in encouraging each student to have the confidence to do this. I left with a definite sense of who I am and the type of work I want to make.

I also gained a remarkable set of friends, which continues to stand the test of time. Anyone that studies here is part of something bigger, akin to family. When you meet a former Falmouth student, regardless of age or course, you share an instant connection.

If you had to give one piece of advice to a new Falmouth student, what would it be?

Studying at Falmouth is a brilliant opportunity in a truly inspiring place, make every moment count and experience it to the fullest.

 

Falmouth School of Art Intensives – Summer 2017 in Pictures

Last week we held our Falmouth School of Art Summer Intensives 2017.  Three strands took place this year; abstract painting, figure painting and observational drawing.

We had another really successful year packed full of fantastic work by a great group of practitioners.  We really enjoyed hosting this again and please do take a look at the wide range of work produced in the gallery below.

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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.

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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Short courses this summer – Falmouth School of Art Intensives

Falmouth School of Art Figure Painting Intensive

Falmouth School of Art Figure Painting Intensive

Applications are now invited for the Falmouth School of Art Intensives, our popular summer courses for artists, practitioners and art educators.

Taking place 3-7 July at our Falmouth Campus, we’re again offering a choice of 5-day ‘Intensives’. All are studio-based and provide daily input from specialist tutors including some of Cornwall’s leading artists.

Abstract Painting will be led by artists Simon Averill and Mark Surridge, who created and have delivered this stimulating course together for the last two years. Guidance will be given as participants explore a wide range of strategies, ways of thinking and processes for making abstract work.

Figure Painting, devised and delivered by artists Ashley Hold and Jesse Leroy Smith, promotes skills development and experimentation through daily practical and contextual workshops. Participants work from the life model throughout the week.

New for 2017 is Observational Drawing, delivered by Falmouth School of Art’s Drawing team who have diverse skill sets and expertise. Starting from the rich qualities of Falmouth’s coastal environment, the course is structured around practising observation skills in the field, capturing images from surroundings and building on those findings in the studio.

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If you’re looking for some time and space to develop or reinvigorate your practise this summer, find out more on our website – www.falmouth.ac.uk/fsaintensives. We’ll leave you with the feedback of previous participants…

“The intensive week reinvigorated me and I came home refreshed and ready to start new work.  I have lots of interesting threads to pick up on and gained new insights and ideas.  The tutors were brilliant and helped and suggested in very subtle ways that were completely personal to each participant.  It was exactly what I was looking for and I can’t wait to get working in the studio.”

“It has given me the motivation to pursue my work with greater commitment and energy and also to look more at the work of other artists, both current and historical.”

“The space allocated to us was truly fantastic and this generosity of space enabled us to expand into experimentation, which would otherwise not have been possible.” 

“There was so much that was memorable.  The beautiful setting of the campus and excellent facilities, the superb studio space, great tutors giving excellent lectures, a wonderful group of artists to be among, the social events and superb guest speaker were all wonderful.  Mostly I loved the time and space it gave me to think and work without distraction, but help and support from my fellow artists if I wanted it.”

“I loved the experience.  I was touched by all your thoughtfulness and kindness – the extra events you laid on for us.  I found the tutors’ input sensitive and supportive at all times.”

“The best thing I have done for years: It was like a creative vitamin injection. My practice traveled a very long way in a short space of time.”

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating the legacy of Anna Maria Fox

BA(Hons) Drawing recently marked its move to the Tanachie Garden Studios with an event in collaboration with Scary Little Girls Productions, which brought to life Falmouth’s most famous philanthropist, Anna Maria Fox.

Scary Little Girls have been marking Anna Maria’s 200th anniversary year with community events, and worked with the Drawing team to bring a modern-day Anna Maria to Falmouth Campus to open the new studios. Anna Maria’s ideas saw the formation of The Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society in 1833, home to Falmouth’s first art classes, now The Poly.

The celebration featured children from Mawnan Smith School, who sang, played instruments, performed a dance and told the assembled crowd about Anna Maria’s life. The children then joined BA(Hons) Drawing students and invited guests, including Charles Fox of Glendurgan Garden, for lunch and a portrait drawing class featuring the modern-day Anna Maria Fox – Scary Little Girls’ Patricia Grace-Norton – as the model.

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