First Year BA(Hons) Drawing – A Pop Up Exhibition.

The first year BA(Hons) Drawing students transformed their studio to create a pop up exhibition, curated by John Howard, Associate Lecturer. The exhibition was held in the drawing studios and featured over 100 drawings from the students’ first term of work and covered a wide range of subjects and artistic techniques.

The students worked together to prepare the space for the exhibition. First year student Maria Meekings felt that this process shifted the collective vision from viewing their work as practice pieces, to viewing the pieces in their own right and she was excited to get feedback on her work. “Being able to present work to fellow practitioners and the wider public is gratifying in that it helps you understand that as an artist you are part of a community and that your work exists in a context of both other pieces of art and as something which others can take pleasure or interest in, and not merely as art for its own sake.”

The exhibition also prompted discussion among the students about what they had learnt during this first term of immersion, their response to each-others’ pieces and the aspects of the course that they had most enjoyed so far. Maria says “Being able to explore a variety of techniques and viewpoints has been quite fascinating and useful I feel to understand myself as an artist and the work I want to produce. I think that the understanding in many ways is just as important as the work I’ve produced, if not more, as that is part of my future while each piece finished is automatically assigned to my past.

Reflecting on the process of drawing, Senior Lecturer Peter Skerrett considers that it can be a very introspective activity. “Having the opportunity to share this practice with a wider audience enables the students to see their work from a critical distance, almost like encountering it for the first time. This increases their ability to understand their own and their colleagues work from a more critical and reflective viewpoint.”

Isolde Pullum, Course Coordinator for BA(Hons) Drawing, was impressed with the students professional manner and the way in which they worked together to put the show up in a very short space of time. She was also delighted with the quality of the drawings produced so early in the course, during which time they have created work on location during study visits to Tresco on the Isles of Scilly, The National Trust’s Trelissick, Trebah Garden and Paradise Park wildlife sanctuary. They also visited ShelterBox in Truro to prepare for an upcoming project for next term.

There will be more opportunities for the students to develop their professional practice and to exhibit their work, as future exhibitions are planned for the Fox Café on the Falmouth Campus.

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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.

 

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.

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!’

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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Intensive short courses this summer at Falmouth School of Art

The Falmouth School of Art Intensives are back!… Online payment image (Gateway)

This summer, Falmouth School of Art is delighted to offer a choice of three intensive five-day courses for practitioners and art educators, delivered by some of Cornwall’s leading artists. All run at Falmouth Campus from 4-8 July and the deadline for application is 29 April 2016.

This year, choose from: Abstract Painting (tutors Simon Averill and Mark Surridge), Figure Painting (tutors Ashley Hold and Jesse Leroy Smith), and Drawing (delivered by the team behind our popular BA(Hons) Drawing course.

As well as generous studio time, the Intensives include daily one-to-one input from expert tutors, tutorials, group discussions and practical sessions and social time.

For more details and to apply: www.falmouth.ac.uk/fsaintensives   

What last year’s Intensives participants say:

“This was a well organised and thoroughly enjoyable week. I very much enjoyed and benefited from talking to the tutors. I came away from this feeling like I had undertaken an MA in a week”.

“The course gave me the time and space to really think through making. This resulted in my work shifting and improving quite radically in five days…and allowed me to develop strategies to tie together various strands into my work more successfully”.

It has helped me put my work into a contemporary context, helped me focus my ideas and practice and given me a boost of energy and inspiration”.

 

A few photos from the FSA Intensives 2015

 

Intensives 7

Last week we held the Falmouth School of Art Intensives for five days.  It was a great success and the work the participants produced was stunning.  Comments from participants included: “The facilities were excellent.  It was a delight to spend five days with other committed artists,” and “I found a new way of working within my usual practice, building a new vocabulary of mark-making and having some new techniques to use.”  We’re already looking forward to the Intensives in Summer 2016!  If you’re interested in more information on the Intensives please email us at schoolofart@falmouth.ac.uk

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