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/

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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.

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”.

Exhibition of paintings by Glad Fryer at the Jellyfish Arts Hub in Devon.

“What shall we do tomorrow” an exhibition of paintings by Glad Fryer, Senior Lecturer on the BA(Hons) Fine Art course, opens at the Jellyfish Arts Hub, Buckfastleigh, Devon on Friday 4th May.


Glad says “The work in this exhibition, ‘What shall we do tomorrow’, explores how we live with images both worn out and potent. I am at once driven by an amnesic compulsion (a drive towards loss and annihilation of memory) to archive and aestheticise images, while equally coveting their ability to prick, puncture and cut through the dispassionate collecting, which can yield moments of insight that extend knowledge. While painting, I have authorship of this personal, political, ethical, aesthetic and embodied experience. It occurs between archiving and forgetting, between material and signification, between interiority and exteriority. These re-acquaintances with images are critical to the formulation of ‘self’.”

The exhibition runs until 30th May.

Falmouth School of Art Summer Intensives: 9-13 July 2018

Falmouth School of Art will again this summer be running its popular five-day Intensives delivered by specialist tutors. Intensive courses in Abstract Painting, Drawing and The Figure offer practicing visual artists and art educators the opportunity to immerse themselves in their work with daily guidance and input from the School’s expert tutors, including some of Cornwall’s leading artists.

 

Participants take part in studio tutorials, group discussions and practical sessions, working alongside other practitioners in well-appointed studios in the subtropical garden setting of Falmouth Campus. Nearby are Falmouth’s vibrant town centre and glorious beaches; our participants tell us that we offer the ideal place for concentrated creative activity.

 

 

Dr. Ginny Button, Director of Falmouth School of Art, comments: ‘Our students benefit from our unique mix of beautiful location, great facilities, inspiring legacy, pedagogic excellence and friendly, supportive atmosphere. We’re delighted in the summer to open up our facilities and offer our teaching expertise to artists and creative practitioners who want to further develop their work and their professional networks too.’

Previous Intensives participants’ testimonials:

“The course was perfect – very well planned and organised with good mixture of presentations, tutorials, studio development and opportunity for socialising”.

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

“The opportunity to take time out from a busy teaching schedule to focus on producing my own work was energising and inspiring…the course has enriched me on both a personal and professional level, giving me ideas for teaching at sixth form.”

“I loved the studio space and the time spent contemplating work with no distractions…There was a great balance of tutorials and time to work. Met some great fellow artists, there was a great buzz of creativity.”

The deadline for applications is 5th May. For more information and how to apply, please visit:  www.falmouth.ac.uk/fsaintensives

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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.

 

National Open Art success for Falmouth Fine Artist

We’re delighted to congratulate second year BA(Hons) Fine Art student Edward Spencer, whose painting has made it to the final of the 21st National Open Art competition, from around 4000 entries.

Edward grew up in East Kent, and before joining Falmouth School of Art, completed a Foundation year at the Royal Drawing School in London, where he won the End of Year Exhibition Award. He told us, ‘I entered my painting, Untitled, to various art prizes before the summer; I’d never done it before and thought I’d give it a go. I’m very glad it’s being recognised, and it’s exciting to see a painting I produced in my small mezzanine first year studio engaging and interacting within a much wider context than my course here in Falmouth’.

Of Untitled, Edward says, ‘I work very intuitively, very rarely planning my paintings, but allow them to form themselves through the making. However, with this particular work, I started with a gridded structure, separating land/sea and sky, with the horizon at the centre. Moving to Falmouth from my year in London, I was struck by the presence of such a defined and wide horizon, the open spaces, and the way in which the community engages with its natural surroundings. And yet there is this disjunct I experience and I believe many of my generation experience, and that’s the way technology has such a dominant presence in my life, and so there’s an unsettling, post-natural feeling I want to capture in my work – I want to experience the world but yet it feels less and less authentic. Absorbing myself within virtual spaces and realities seems to be preventing me from truly being able to experience the real reality, the physical, the human. That I believe is at the core of this work’.

‘Untitled’, by Edward Spencer, Oil on canvas, 41x51x2cm

Edward’s painting, Untitled, will be exhibited 17-26 November at Bargehouse (Oxo Tower Wharf, Southbank), London, where he will join other selected artists at the private view. National Open Art is open to professional and amateur artists aged 15 and over, and – with each entry judged anonymously, and no ‘invited’ artists – is considered to be one of the most democratic in the UK and Ireland.

You can view more of Edward’s work at his website: https://edwardspencerblog.wordpress.com/