Falmouth School of Art

Interested in Falmouth School of Art at Falmouth University? Find out what our students, staff and alumni get up to…

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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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.

 

 

Last chance to see…at Imagine Falmouth

Beth Garnett, alumna of MA Illustration: Authorial Practice, is currently showing a collage – From the Headland at Mawnan I – as part of Falmouth Art Gallery’s Imagine Falmouth exhibition until this Saturday. The piece was produced during Beth’s participation in Falmouth School of Art’s Observational Drawing Intensive last July.

Beth Garnett, From The Headland At Mawnan I, 2017, Collage

After the success of Falmouth Art Gallery’s inaugural submissions show last year, ‘Imagine Falmouth’ has grown in scale, and is now a bi-annual exhibition and arts prize. The gallery invite emerging and established artists from across the county to submit their work. With no theme and no restriction on medium, the exhibition has reflected the very best of Cornish art today. The exhibition, which opened in November, closes on Saturday 20 January.

Falmouth School of Art Intensives offer a selection of 5-day courses for artists and art educators, all taking place in the studios and grounds of Falmouth Campus, and the surrounding area. Of her experience at last summer’s Intensive, Beth says, ‘The course was a really great timeout from real life to get back to drawing again, in beautiful surroundings. The tutors were supportive and offered really practical advice. The group size wasn’t too big and we had a lot of fun. I was able to find new directions for my work and new ideas for my process which has really refreshed my practice. I’m am sure will continue to impact on my drawing work for a long time to come’.

for 2018, Falmouth School of Art will run three Intensives; in Drawing, Abstract Painting and The Figure. Course descriptors will soon be available online, at www.falmouth.ac.uk/fsaintensives, where you can also find images from previous intensives, terms and conditions and a short application form.

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.

 

Fine Art students reflect on the Future Now Symposium

Second year BA(Hons) Fine Art students, Isaac Aldridge and Unn Devik joined their Senior Lecturers Mercedes Kemp and Lucy Willow at a two-day conference – Future Now – at York St John University. Isaac and Unn, whose attendance was partially funded by Falmouth School of Art, share their experience of the symposium:

‘Cherie Federico, the Co- Publisher, Editor and Director of Aesthetica opened the symposium with a soft, reinforcing message, reminding us of uncertain times with the unprecedented rate of technological intervention with the effects and questions that it brings to us in the present time. Federico mentioned the way technology can sway culture and enforce propaganda; we can see this through the brain washing of young people through the manipulation of religious intentions to commit acts of terror and political gain, but ultimately through art we are able to consider the events of the world; even though it’s shifting at a cataclysmic speed, we have some power of influence. It is a self-reflection on the 21st Century life and what it means.’ Isaac Aldridge

‘Future Now Symposium invited us to celebrate the shortlisted artists for the Aesthetica Art Prize 2017, and for the occasion arranged a vast series of lectures by professionals from the art world. Speakers came from Glasgow School of Art, Welcome Trust, ArtAngel, Arts Council, Visual Art South West, Icon Gallery, Whitechapel Gallery and many more. Themes of the Symposium included; the arrival of the digital age and how it affects the art world as we know it and, diversity in the art world and how to make it a more inclusive and culturally diverse scene on all levels.  There were also sessions about funding and art prizes, relevant platforms when launching a career as a practicing artist.’

I feel privileged to have been given the opportunity by the university to attend the Future Now Symposium. All in all I feel more informed about the current situation of the Art World. Although it is a highly competitive and commercially driven world, it is full of opportunities.  Hopefully, too, it is on its way to becoming a truly diverse place.  An Art World utopia is a place where the Art World is not commercially driven and takes pride in nurturing and sustaining talent from across the globe – regardless of background.  I think only then we can talk about making art for art´s sake – that is to imitate different realities of existence.  We are far from this utopia– but I believe going to symposiums and other events like Future Now is a great way of getting to know yourself and what you find to be valuable and worthwhile – thus creating your own idea of a utopia.’ Unn Devik

International awards for Falmouth Illustration alumni

Two of this year’s four winners of the BolognaRagazzi Award are alumni of Falmouth’s BA(Hons) Illustration. The BolognaRagazzi Award is one of the world’s most highly regarded international prizes in children’s publishing, giving winners extraordinary visibility, including through high profile recognition at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair.

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Emma Lewis won the Opera Prima category for The Museum of Me, by Tate Publishing. She said, ‘Winning the award was an amazing surprise, as I hadn’t even considered that I would be put forward. I’m also pleased because it reflects all the brilliant hard work put in by my publishers, Tate’.

2012 graduate William Grill won the Non-fiction category for his book The Wolves of Currumpaw, published by Flying Eye Books. Grill said ‘I am over the moon that Wolves was chosen for this year’s non-fiction category, I had never imagined that it would be so well received overseas. Since my aim was to bring Seton’s tale to a modern audience, I now feel more hopeful that more people will appreciate the story’.

The Wolves of Currumpaw has also been long listed for this year’s CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal, the UK’s oldest award for Children’s literature, previously won by some of the best loved children’s illustrators, including Quentin Blake and Raymond Briggs. Grill won the Medal in 2015 for his acclaimed Shackleton’s Journey.

Alongside Grill on the Kate Greenaway Medal long list is Levi Pinfold, who graduated from Falmouth in 2006. Pinfold – also a previous Medal-winner, in 2013 for Black Dog – has been selected for his picture book Greenling, published by Templar Publishing. The Kate Greenaway Medal short list will be announced on 16 March, with the winners announced at a ceremony in June.

MA Illustration Alumna, Heidi Ball, wins international writers competition

Heidi Ball, Illustrator and Writer, who graduated from the MA Illustration: Authorial Practice course in 2013 has won the 2016 Iceland Writers Retreat (IWR) writing competition with her short story ‘White Light’.  The competition to win a spot on the retreat has been running for three years and attracted over 350 entries from around the world.

The IWR will take place in Aprwhite-light-heidi-ballil this year and is a space for writers and those who enjoy the craft of writing to retreat and to foster their creative spirit.  Over the course of the retreat participants can choose to enroll in small group writing workshops led by internationally acclaimed authors, Q&A panels, numerous readings, social functions and the opportunity to explore the Icelandic countryside.

Heidi says “I’m really looking forward to the IWR 2017 retreat in April – there are some amazing speakers and I’ve been lucky enough to book on five of the workshops, with; Claudia Casper, Sara Gruen, Bret Anthony Johnston, Madeleine Thien and Meg Wolitzer. Goodness, what a line-up. I cannot wait!”

 

White Light, by Heidi Ball (471 words)

The old man watched from the dryness of the shore. On black sand in a black night. He tilted his head upwards, waiting for the clouds to pass.

He would always come here, he knew that. This was where his heart was held. A tiny beating thing. The land was so vast, so strong, and only here he remembered his place.

This time, he stood with his family, his son by his side, a man now. And they gazed together, waiting for the moon.
He had always told him on each return, that you should never fear the moon, but only fear what you find reflected there of yourself. The only true advice he could think of, as he doubted again what he himself might see.

The moon slipped silently into vision. Its light fell upon them. He tried to remember to breath. The whiteness slid along the ground, over the water and rocks and over their own small frames.

His wife, slipped her hand through the shadows and grasped his. Her hair greyed, as had his, but she hadn’t aged. Her eyes spoke of youth and the chilled air had awoken her complexion.

They aligned themselves, ready to see, ready to understand. This was the land of the moon, created in its likeness and only here, it felt like a homecoming. A resting place for the eternal.

No words were spoken aloud, they were quieted in time. Their annual trip to this place brought that moment of peace. He thought of the next year and the next, and wanted to be here to see them all. His grandchild would make the trip and he could tell her about, it all, you had to feel as well as see.

He closed his eyes to soak in the light. Then opened them wide to see what would be revealed. He was consumed by that moon. Its detail etched into his mind. The variations of its surface, pitted with memory.

His wife turned to him, squeezed his hand one last time that year. She nodded at the moon and smiled. He wondered why, always wondered how it could be, them standing here.

The gentle wind pushed back the veil and he found his hand empty once again. The moment had passed. He appreciated his son’s company with a glance, and turned for a final look up to the sky. He mouthed his thanks.

This is where he’d remember her, his wife. Her laugh, her voice whispering to him. He felt his son’s hand on his shoulder. She had slipped away, but he couldn’t bring himself to let go. This is where they had met, this is where they came each year, and she would always turn up, like tonight, when the light was just right. On the black sand, under the white moon.