Falmouth School of Art

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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.

 

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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.

 

Midas Exhibition 2016 opens 11 November

Recent work by Linda Straehl (video still)

Recent work by Linda Straehl (video still)

We’re getting ready for the 2016 Midas Exhibition at Newlyn Art Gallery, featuring work by ten artists, selected from their BA(Hons) Fine Art degree shows at Falmouth Campus this summer.

The exhibition runs from 12 November to 7 January, and includes work by Ella Caie (film), Finbar Conran (kinetic and sound installation), Tanya Cruz (sculptural video installation), Robert Davis (large kinetic sculpture and other works), Joe Fenwick-Wilson (painting and sculpture), Nicholas Griffin (painting), Zoë Pearce (painting), Bharat Rajagopal (painting), Isabel Ramos (video installation), and Calum Rees-Gildea (painting).

In the lower gallery, last year’s Midas winner, Linda Straehl, who graduated in 2015, will present a new video work.

A preview evening on 11 November (7-9pm) will include food from Cornish Fusion Fish and Food, as well as a pay bar. We are pleased to be enabling a group of current BA(Hons) Fine Art students will be attend the preview and an Artists’ Talk at 11am on 12 November, also open to the public (free with the cost of admission).

For more than ten years, Midas Construction, through the Midas Award, with Falmouth University, Newlyn Art Gallery and Anima-Mundi (formerly Millennium, St Ives), has provided recent graduates with funding for materials, mentoring and an exhibition in their first year after university.

A number of those exhibiting this year were featured by ArtCornwall talking about their work earlier this year: read more here.

Former Visiting Professor Deborah Levy shortlisted for Man Booker Prize

Falmouth School of Art is delighted to congratulate Deborah Levy on being shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2016, for her novel Hot Milk (Hamish Hamilton).Deborah Levy photographed at home in north London for the Observer by Sophia Evans.

Levy served as Visiting Professor of Writing in Illustration to Falmouth School of Art between 2012 and 2015, delivering a series of well attended and thought-provoking lectures to students and the public.

Levy works across fiction, performance and visual culture. She trained at Dartington College of Arts, leaving in 1981 to write a number of plays, highly acclaimed for their “intellectual rigour, poetic fantasy and visual imagination”, including Pax, Clam, Heresies for the Royal Shakespeare Company, and Macbeth – False Memories, all published in Levy: Plays 1 (Methuen).

Her novels include the 2012 Man Booker Prize shortlisted, Swimming Home, translated into 14 languages, Beautiful MutantsSwallowing GeographyThe Unloved (all reissued by Penguin), Billy and Girl (Bloomsbury). Her 2012 short story collection Black Vodka was short listed for The Frank O’Connor Award and the BBC International Short Story Award. Her long form essay, ‘Things I Don’t Want to Know’, a response to George Orwell’s 1946 essay ‘Why I Write’ and Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own is published in hard back by Notting Hill Editions, paperback by Penguin.

Bookmakers William Hill have declared Levy 2/1 favourite to win the prize.

2016 Guardian interview with Deborah Levy

The 2016 Man Booker shortlist:

The Sellout by Paul Beatty (Oneworld)

Hot Milk by Deborah Levy (Hamish Hamilton)

His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet (Contraband)

Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh (Vintage)

All That Man Is by David Szalay (Vintage)

Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien (Granta)

More about the shortlist

BA(Hons) Drawing student Megan Fatharly is runner up in the Batsford Prize 2016

Congratulations to Megan Fatharly, a student on Falmouth’s BA(Hons) Drawing course who was chosen as a runner up in the Fine and Applied Arts category of the Batsford Prize 2016 for her piece ‘Organic Chaos’.

 

The Batsford Prize is an annual competition for all undergraduate and postgraduate students studying at UK institutions with 2016 having a record number of entries.  As well as prize money awarded to the winner of each category, runners up also got £50 worth of Batsford books.

The theme for this year was ‘Reuse, Recycle, Reclaim’ and judges were looking for entries that reflect the desire and need to reuse and recycle materials and to reclaim what is discarded and give it a new life.  Judges included one of Britain’s most celebrated children’s illustrators Michael Foreman, fine art photographer and former Director of Kent Institute of Art & Design Vaughan Grylls, leading fashion writer and author Gemma Williams, textile artist and lecturer in textiles Jean Draper and the Publishing Director at Pavilion Books Katie Cowan.

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(c) Megan Fatharly, from ‘Organic Chaos’

 

 

Falmouth Fine Art Student Reps celebrate

BA(Hons) Fine Art Student Reps Ruby Hall and Bryony Hacker

BA(Hons) Fine Art Student Reps Ruby Hall and Bryony Hacker

Falmouth School of Art congratulates Student Representatives from BA(Hons) Fine Art at Falmouth, who are celebrating success and recognition this week at the annual FXU Awards, which took place at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall.

FXU – the student union for Falmouth and University of Exeter in Cornwall – awarded the Fine Art Rep Team ‘Most significant Contribution to the Student Voice’, and from that team, Bryony Hacker, who has also served as the Falmouth School of Art Department Rep this year, was named ‘FXU Rep Legend’.

Every course at Falmouth University has Student Representatives, elected from within each year group annually. The role, which can be demanding as well as rewarding and challenging. gives students a great opportunity to gain experience representing their peers at course, department and University levels, and participate in initiatives and working groups relating to developments at Falmouth.

Fred Mallin, FXU Falmouth President, said of the Fine Art Rep Team, “They have been engaged, committed, positive and responsive, ensuring all students on their course have been represented. Between them they have attended Student Staff Liaison Groups, Departmental Boards, Student Councils, the AGM and UGM, Department Rep Working Groups and Falmouth Campus Reps meetings. [They] have been exceptionally proactive, providing strong representation of their peers and providing fair feedback both to staff and then back to students…as a cohort they have gone above and beyond their roles,effecting change on their course and the wider student experience.” First Year Course Coordinator Gillian Wylde described the team as “extremely pro-active and engaged as a point of contact for students on issues relating to the Fine Art course and facilities”.

Nominating Bryony Hacker as FXU Rep Legend, fellow Fine Art student and Rep Ruby Hall wrote, “I nominate Bryony because she is a hardworking and committed Student Rep and Falmouth School of Art Department Rep. Her attendance and communication between students and meetings is outstanding and she makes everyone feel in-the-loop. Her commitment to the roles is fantastic and she uses social media to communicate effectively. She has a passion for change and is proud to study at Falmouth, which easily rubs off on to her peers. I believe her hard work, commitment and positive energy should receive the recognition it deserves.”

Supporting the nomination of Bryony Hacker, Course Coordinator Gillian Wylde wrote, “Her role involves meeting with and talking to Fine Art students about the relevant issues affecting the cohort. Bryony is at all times, friendly, honest and hard working. She keeps the students she represents informed of key decisions so that they can feel confident that their voice is represented, working with the School to identify and resolve issues which may arise…providing feedback to the students she represents. Bryony has been exemplary in her role, directing students to information about services offered within the University and the Students’ Union. She is aware that the ‘voice’ of students matters and contributes toward positive change and improvements in the School.”

This year’s Fine Art Reps were Constance Barker, Jamie Battersby, Jessica Glover, Bryony Hacker, Ruby Hall, Anthony Kenny, Charlotte Macias, Tabitha Tohill-Reid, Chris Slesser  and Alexandra Trinder. We’re proud to have such dedicated and effective Reps in the Falmouth School of Art.