Thursday, 19 July 2012

3rd in the series '1st Year Out of Uni' Interview with Sophie Victoria Elliott

Collage and pen drawing, A3, 2012

The third artist I have interviewed as part of this series is Sophie Victoria Elliott. Elliott graduated from Swansea Metropolitan University last year after completing a degree in Fine Art. Her practice explores her fascination with the geological landscape, which she explores through a wide variety of mediums. 

Sophie Victoria Elliott is based between Cardiff and West Yorkshire.

Elizabeth Dismorr: What do you miss (if anything) about being in an educational environment?

Sophie Victoria Elliott:      
 *The access to equipment
*Lectures from both lecturers from the university and visiting lecturers.
 *Feeling of a critical support network from fellow students and our tutors (the loss of critical support was the biggest difference as within 2 months of leaving University I was living in Yorkshire alone, having moved from Swansea, in a studio on my own working in a school). However, once I stepped back from University I saw that this support network is equally as damaging as supportive i.e. friends and fellow class mates were rarely brutal.

ED: Do you feel that you have managed to balance earning enough money to live with practicing as an artist?

SVE: I was fortunate to get a position as an Artist in Residence at Ackworth School, Pontefract and knew this in the March 2011 before I had even completed my degree. This has allowed me to work part-time as a teacher and concentrate on my practice the rest of the time. However, I know how fortunate I am to have the balance of money and time for the moment as most fellow graduates are not in this position.

ED:Have you taken part in any unpaid work experience/internships/volunteering? Do you think these will stand you in good stead to finding a job?

SVE: I have volunteered as:
BEEP Wales’ International Painting Prize – helping hang the show
‘Inside’ Exhibition, Blankspace, Manchester - Artist assistant for Philip Cheater
Elysium Gallery – taking show down ready and paint for next show
g39 archivist and library assistant
'Future Memory in Place' arts project, Swansea – teacher

The above volunteer positions offer me the opportunity to network, understand the workings of different galleries and organisations and I believe will help develop skills that make me more employable. I also enjoy the opportunity to learn how to hang a show, support an artist, archive etc.

ED: How has your practice evolved in the last year?

SVE:Being away from the university environment was initially daunting, but I experienced a freedom not felt since Foundation. Not having to adhere to box ticking and ‘final pieces’ released me and I began to explore far further and have since begun 3 collaboration projects with other artists, something I would never have been encouraged to do at university.  Engaging in collaborations can offer a critical support for all involved and as your making work together there is a brutal honesty as your potential reputation is at stake. The new location, Yorkshire, also instigated a new avenue of work.  I would say that my working methods have not changed but, instead, I regained the confidence that University caused me to momentarily lose.

  ED: Have managed to participate in many exhibitions/events in the year since you have graduated?


Solo Exhibitions
'Cyclical Culminations' 12th July - Milkwood Gallery, Roath, Cardiff 
'A Landscape Interpretation' Ackworth School Summer Exhibition 7th July - Solo Show, Yorkshire

Group Exhibitions
REIMAGINE WREXHAM 9th June - 18th July - Group Show/ Interventions, Wrexham [How Far Is Home? performance 11th July]
Citizen III – tactileBosch, Cardiff 
Art.Spoke.Soul. – Print Haus, Cardiff
IlluminARTy: The Gift - Swansea

Red Door 44 Grand Opening Exhibition - Red Door 44, Swansea
JOY - Exe One Zero, Monkey Café, Swansea
Graduate Show Reel - Mission Gallery, Swansea

Forthcoming Exhibitions
BEEP: Wales International Painting Prize, Volcano, Swansea
Disruption2 – 'How Far Is Home?' Performance, Swansea
Pre-paper: Post-card - group exhibition, Red Door 44, Swansea
Solo Exhibition – South Square Gallery, Thornton, Yorkshire
Made In Roath 2012 - Cardiff 

2012 - present
How Far is Home? Project
Collaboration Project – DIS / location
Red Door 44 – Co-founder, collective member and website and social media developer

Forthcoming Projects & Other Experiences
Pushing Too Many Pencils – contribution to quarterly zine
Collaboration Project with Beccie Evans and Emily Baines
Collaboration Project with Jason and Becky

Co-curated ‘Sophie Jacobsen: Prints’ – Osaka-ko,  Japan

ED:   What do you hope to achieve in terms of your practice and career as an artist?

SVE: To develop and refine my visual dialogue; to be able to communicate to others the instigation and inspiration of the work. I also wish to be able to create educational packages/workshops for students to engage and be inspired by the artworks, and most importantly, not feel ostracised by it.

     EDMany British artists are drawn to moving to London after they have graduated. Have you felt this pull?

SVE:Landscape inspires and drives my work so travelling to many different locations is at the heart of my practice. I imagine I will want to move from West Yorkshire next year but London does have a natural gravitational pull but I am aware the promises of success aren’t as simple as merely moving to London. To be able to be involved in the London Arts scene for a small but intense period appeals to me but so does the Glaswegian arts scene, Bristolian and Mancunian among many others. However, the Swansea and Cardiff arts scene are brilliantly saturated and inspiring with collaborations and opportunities available to create at the moment.

  ED: And finally – what advice would you give to any artists who have just graduated in 2012 and are keen to make it as an artist?

SVE:Don’t treat your graduate show as a full stop and a ‘final piece’. It is merely the beginning and though there may be a fear about the loss of your support network as the university studios disband, allow this to offer you a new freedom and either search out a new critical forum or even set up your own.

Your can find out more about Sophie by looking at her website and blog.

To find out more about Red Door 44, the artist collective she help set up and run click here

Monday, 16 July 2012

Review - Pull Everything Out, Corita Kent and Ciara Phillips

Pull Everything Out
Corita Kent and Ciara Phillips
Spike Island, Bristol

Corita Kent 'E eye love' , 1968

Pull Everything Out is an exhibition showing works by the late artist and educator Corita Kent, and Canadian born Ciara Phillips. Corita Kent (1918-1986) is best known for her screen prints from the 1960’s, taking images and text from popular culture. Ciara Philips is a contemporary artist, who like Kent uses print.

Walking into the main gallery space the viewers eyes are greeted with large day-glo prints embellished with slogans and images from magazines with an often political message. It was surprising for me to discover that Corita Kent spent much of her life as a nun. Alongside this work Ciara Phillips has created her own work in reaction to Kent’s, either in the form of prints or by painting directly onto the walls of the gallery. In this manner, therefore, Phillips has entered into a dialogue with the late artist. Phillips work accentuates the older artists work. Much of her work, such as the abstract marks made upon the walls are often visual quotations from the passages within Kent’s prints, and thus also display a connection to language. The main gallery space is joyous with its colour and excubarance. Despite the amount of work on display the space does not appear overcrowded; instead Kent’s work appears to lead, with Phillips dancing alongside, adding flourishes here and there.

For the first month of the exhibition Ciara Phillips has set up a working studio in the front gallery. However, although there was evidence of Phillips working in the space, it seemed almost staged when I visited. The space was too pristine to appear like a true working studio, and I suppose that it did not help that there were original copies of ‘The Bulletin’  placed under glass in the studio space, making the work shop space seem half like a museum. I think it will be interesting to visit the front gallery at the end of the month, to see more evidence of Phillips having worked in the space.

My favourite part of the exhibition was a film showing Corita Kent teaching her students. It was clear from watching the film what an inspirational teacher the nun was. Dressed in her full habit Kent instructed students on a collaborative project involving images and slogans and magazines which were then printed onto boxes with the boxes then placed upon each other. As I watched the film I wanted to take myself back forty five years and join the kohl rimmed, turtle necked students in their project. I wish there were more educators like Corita Kent in art schools today. 

The exhibition runs until the 26th August 

Friday, 6 July 2012

2nd in 1st Year Out of Uni interview series.

SooMin Leong, Little Tree House In The Woods2012

My second interview in this series is with Bristol based artist and printmaker, SooMin Leong. SooMin graduated from Bristol UWE with an MA in Printmaking in 2011. I wanted to see how the last year has treated her, in terms of the development of her practice but to also see if she has managed to balance that delicate line between earning enough money to live, and being able to still make art. 

Elizabeth Dismorr What do you miss (if anything) about being in an educational environment?
SooMin Leong: Technical assistance and critical comment/advice from tutors and course mates.

ED:Do you feel that you have managed to balance earning enough money to live, with practicing as an artist?
SL: No. Especially to begin with.

ED: Have you taken part in any unpaid work experience/ internships/ volunteering since university? Do you think these will stand you in good stead to finding a job? 
SL:I started with volunteering and internships. It can be a good way to know people and also show people I am capable and reliable. 
 I had volunteered at Spike Island since autumn, and have just stopped volunteering there because I am now a paid invigilator. I've also Volunteered at M Shed since autumn, helping up in events and also operating the printing press. I am not volunteering there at the moment because they just kept the press away. However, if there are some interesting projects coming up, I will still volunteer for them, especially if it includes printing. I also I volunteered for Bristol Civic Society as their 'talks' photographer for a few events. Lastly I spent 3 months (January til early April)doing a  paid internship with Arnolfini as an archive intern. For this I catalogued the artist's book collection at Bristol Records Office. 

ED: Have you managed to participate in many exhibitions/events in the year since you have graduated? 
SL: Some:

f16 -- photography exhibition during photography festival.
The secret postcard show 'Six by Four' for the UWE MA Fine Art Fundraiser, I also participated in Seila Fernandez Arconada's show Secret Whispers. And my solo show, Traverse. And also some pop up shops, Made in Bristol, and Paper Scissors Stone. 

ED:How has your practice evolved since you left university? 
SL: I am still working on the same idea, slowly move on from that. Try to produce different things with the same idea, such as books and also other 2D works besides my 3D layered photographs.

ED: What do you hope to achieve in the next year in terms of your practice and career as an artist? 
SL: Hopefully, my work will get into more galleries and exhibitions. And also some part time jobs or a full time job related to art along side.

ED: Do you think you'll stay in Bristol? 
SL: Yes, for the moment. However, I might move to other places, if I get opportunities else where.

ED: What advice would you give to anyone about to graduate in an arts related subject and keen to make it as an artist? 
SL:Keep inspired and the passion and belief you have will bring you through. 

SooMin Leong's show Traverse is at The Gallimaufry on Gloucester Road in Bristol until the 21st of July. 

To find out more about SooMin and her work, take a look at her website

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

My Studio

My studio is currently in a spare room in my house. It doubles up as a laundry room and a place to store stuff. However, my table sits by the French windows, giving some light, along with a rather wobbly vintage 70's lamp. The space is extremely cold in winter, and I sit huddled over the table in layers of knitwear, the smell of white spirit and oils penetrating my nostrils. On and around the table are my tools of the trade (oil paints, watercolours, brushes etc) various old postcards that I collect, art books and magazines, rejected pieces of art and work in progress. It is messy, but whenever I go in to work there I find my self escaping from whatever else life is throwing at me and create some work (whether the work is good or bad is another matter!). 

Work in progress for a project I'm doing on Bletchley Park

I have a penchant for Victorian dolls. The other one I made some years ago.

The table, and one of my cats

The studio doubles up as a laundry and storage room!