Fine Artist / Sculptor
Talk us through your career path since graduating
After graduating, I moved into a studio near Chilgrove with four other artists, so that the conversations about art that were so important in the Visual Arts department, could continue. I felt absolutely stuffed with ideas, and would now have time to work through some of them. For the next year I worked away, carving alabaster, slate, soapstone, marble and onyx. I was reading Barbara Hepworth's letters and conversations, and her account of her early working life encouraged me to take time exploring my materials and the question of how artist and material could be combined. After the first year I realised that working with a location, theme and deadline would focus my work, and lead to more creative juxtapositions, so I booked a gallery space for a solo show. I made work towards that theme and location for the next year. The exhibition has just taken place.
What projects are you currently working on?
At the moment I'm in an assessment phase, thinking about what effect the exhibition had, and what to do next. I also have four sculptures commissioned as a result, and this is a new thing for me. The addition of a third element into the artist + material equation will bring new challenges. I don't know what they are yet! Each commissioner will bring something different to the project and, as always with my work, it will be a balancing act.
What do you consider your biggest achievement to date?
Setting up a large solo exhibition in one day, and seeing it looking as I wanted, and not keeling over from the pressure, was a big thing for me. The public response to the work was very interesting. I realised that hearing people's comments provided an important part of the work, it went from being a duologue (me + stone) to a more rounded communication. Also, the Mayor came in, with his shiny chain, to have his picture taken with me, does that count?
Do you have any tips for recent graduates wanting to establish themselves as an artist?
Since I'm a recent graduate, I'm more in need of tips than I am able to offer them. I have a couple of observations though. I try to keep the rigorous approach to my practice that I developed at West Dean College and not become lazy in my thinking. Also, it's hard to be self-employed and constantly self-motivating, so I try to create favourable conditions for making work, and remove obstacles where possible.
How do you think studying at West Dean College prepared you for what you do now?
Studying at West Dean College changed the way I look at the world and respond to art. It enabled me to make and develop my work, but also to evaluate and talk about it. I got the chance to make sculpture for locations in West Dean House and Gardens. Imagine the frisson of having your work in the same setting as work by Dali! On a practical level, having multiple exhibitions as part of the course gave me confidence to plan, curate and market my own show.
What's your favourite memory from your time at West Dean College?
The funniest moment was during a celebration event, during which June Ngan forced our tutors David and Neil to play a 'game' of hypothetical scenarios, which made them choose between saving their girlfriend or mother, and discussing their personal feelings on the subject. This was torture enough, but June then capped it off by telling them that their answers were 'wrong'!