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.

 

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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

BA(Hons) Drawing take Amsterdam!

BA(Hons) Drawing students recently returned from a study visit to Amsterdam. Second year student Esme Bone and Emma Edwoods share their experience of the trip…

‘We were given the opportunity to go on a study trip to Amsterdam with our course. We spent five days exploring the city and experiencing the culture. We had the chance to visit many of the art galleries that Amsterdam has to offer, including the Van Gogh museum, the Rijksmuseum and the Stedelijk, spending time in the galleries and museums drawing and taking inspiration from the artists and artefacts.

Our hostel was next to Vondelpark; this was a really great location, because we were walking distance from many of the attractions. It also made it really easy to go and explore on our own, knowing that we could get back in no time if we needed to. The area was beautiful and really easy to get around.

We spent our evenings getting food together as a course or in smaller groups – it was nice to get to know everyone a little better. If you are ever given this opportunity I would definitely recommend it – just watch out for the bikes!’

 

 

BA(Hons) Drawing Forum 23 February 2017

Peter Skerrett and Claude Heath (far right) discuss a structural drawing built by students

Falmouth Senior Lecturer Peter Skerrett and artist and Visiting Speaker Claude Heath (far right) discuss a structural drawing built by students

BA(Hons) Drawing invited artist Claude Heath to join students and staff in the studios, where several collaborative drawings took place during the day. Drawings made included two large narrative pieces responding to poet works about the refugee crisis and World War One, a three-dimensional root-system structure made from rolled paper, and a ‘remote’ life drawing class where the model was placed in another room from the students, testing recall and memory.

During the morning, drawing stopped as students and staff listened to a conversation between Claude Heath and BA(Hons) Drawing Lecturer Dr Joe Graham, in which they talked about the validity of drawing as a means of legal communication, using a drawing of the Apple iPad as an example.

Claude also gave a lecture to students and staff from across Falmouth School of Art. Many thanks to Claude Heath from all of us at Falmouth for a very enjoyable and successful day.

Students plan collaborative drawing

Students plan collaborative drawing

Joe Graham in 'Variations' - a project about drawing movement

BA(Hons) Drawing Lecturer Joe Graham in ‘Variations’ – a project about drawing movement

Students and Claude Heath during the Drawing Forum 2017

Students and artist Claude Heath during the Drawing Forum 2017

Claude Heath and Joe Graham in conversation at the Drawing Forum

Drawing Forum Guest Speaker Claude Heath and Falmouth Lecturer Joe Graham in conversation at the Drawing Forum

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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Reflections on first year BA(Hons) Fine Art exhibition

img_0384At the start of this term, the end of their first study block, BA(Hons) Fine Art students worked together towards an exhibition in their studio buildings. The exhibited work demonstrated experimentation and showed the development of work throughout the first ten weeks of the course. The range of practices and approaches reflected the diversity and individuality of first year students.

Exhibiting student Charlie Ash, said, ‘The exhibition provided an opportunity for students to display work in an open and informal setting; with multiple first year spaces across the campus being organised and curated among studio groups. The exhibition confirmed how much I value being on a Fine Art course which supports a wide variety of art practices – there is something exciting about seeing painting, drawing, sculpture, performative and time-based work (and everything else) occupying the same space. I think a self-organised open studio exhibition is a good format for first year students as there is no pressure to include fully finished work, but it is an insight into the practices which everyone is engaged in – beneficial both as a participating artist and a viewer’.

 

 

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Fine Art students from other years, and staff from the course and across the university joined exhibitors for a well-attended opening event. The project was the first of many opportunities for students to share and exhibit their work for peers and more public audiences as they progress through the course.

Student Olivia Brelsford-Massey shared her experience of being involved in this exhibition: ‘The first year exhibition – although most of us felt like we didn’t know what to do – turned out to be a success! I found it helpful, as it’s easy to crawl into hole as an art student (that hole being the studio space), and bringing our work into the larger context of an exhibition made it easier see what everyone had been making this past term, and opened up conversations about our work and ideas. The opening night was a lot of fun, some of the students had put together food and drink and posters and invited their pals/significant others to have a look around – all of this was organised in a short space of time so kudos to everyone. All in all, putting together the exhibition as well as the work itself felt like a vital part of being an art student and I’m looking forward to the next one!’

BA(Hons) Drawing student illustrates oesophago-gastric anastomosis technique for Derriford Hospital

Second year BA(Hons) Drawing student Hannah Berrisford has completed work with the oesophago-gastric surgery team at Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, resulting in a series of illustrations to help the team demonstrate an improved anastomotic technique developed at the hospital.

Hannah was approached to draw a few frames to help illustrate the new procedure and, already interested in medical illustration, Hannah felt this would be a good opportunity to see what was involved in that discipline.

Much of what turned into quite a lengthy project, involved working at distance, from Falmouth, with a Consultant Oesophago-gastric Surgeon in Exeter, sharing screens over WebEx, and using a Wacom tablet to make digital drawings, something that Hannah hadn’t felt was her forte. She worked with the surgeons using WebEx to modify the drawings as they understood their technique in more detail. Of the experience, Hannah says, ‘I  learned that communication with the commissioner is a vital part of the working process’.

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Hannah’s drawings have already formed part of a presentation given by the team at the International Society for Diseases of the Esophagus in Singapore, which included surgeons from Australia and the Unites States who are interested in adopting the new technique. Her clear illustrations enabled animation through PowerPoint, which showed the process without irrelevant details that inevitably form part of video.

A Consultant Oesophago-gastric Surgeon at Derriford Hospital wrote to Hannah to say ‘Thank you so much for the fantastic illustrations…Thank you for your patience in working alongside us (a team of five surgeons, who have all had input to your illustrations) to produce really excellent illustrations of a difficult three dimensional procedure’.

Of medical illustration, Hannah notes, ‘An understanding of the body is important. Had I not watched the operation on video, I wouldn’t have been able to understand why I was drawing certain things, which would have meant the project would have failed. It was a good learning experience’.

The final iteration of Hannah’s drawing will be published with the team’s paper, which is about to be submitted to the Journal ‘Diseases of the Esophagus’, an international journal with an impact factor of 2.15, cited 2370 times last year.