The studios are an open and friendly place, and once people get to know each other more and everyone comes out of their shells a little (especially after lockdown) you won’t want to leave.
Please tell us a bit about your work and your influences.
My work during my time at Brighton has been an attempt to process things – lockdown and all the rest of it!I didn’t know what my work was about for a very long time, and avoided crits like the plague. (I do not recommend avoidance. Go and talk with the people on your course.) My second year was spent in my bedroom trying to make small technical paintings. This time was hard and felt stagnant, but in retrospect I did a lot for my own practice during that time. Practice! I focused on accurate drawing and learning to mix colour and paint loosely. Focusing on technique definitely propelled my practice into my final year. I’m still not half as good as I would like to be.
A big part of my work has been my images. I’ve been screenshotting anything that grabs my eye, and now I’ve got loads of images that either mean something or at least are visually pleasing. I have had these spread out on my floor for the final year, which is a bit dramatic, but it does work. It’s a mechanism for getting unstuck – they jumble together and re-emerge in new combinations with new suggestions.
My final year, the only full year of studio time I had, was definitely the best. I did different kinds of painting, and tried to not be formulaic. By the end of it I was rubbing chalk into canvas and hoovering lines into it. Kind of silly, but it was fun and new and turned out to look interesting. My work doesn’t focus on one subject but I think, when I look at some of it together, that it explores ideas of hope, thought, difficulty, breakfast, paradox, breath, polarity, sweetness, patience, rest, the arbitrary aspect of life, dirt, corners, jumping up and down, and washing up. A couple of favourite painters of mine are Michael Andrews and Richard Hamilton. Great technique, beautiful and potent too.
How have you found your course and time at Brighton?
Overall, Brighton has been good to me. If you want to, you can start dedicating time to your studio straight away. And you should. The studios are an open and friendly place, and once people get to know each other more and everyone comes out of their shells a little (especially after lockdown) you won’t want to leave. It can be really exciting. Even if you can’t stand the essays or other modules that make up your course, you can spend a lot of time in the studio. If you’re not painting, you can draw. If you don’t feel like drawing, get a coffee and read a book. If you can’t be bothered to read, you can sit in your studio and flick through an art book, or have a wonder around and chat with other people who paint. It’s a total lark.
How did you chose your course – why did you chose to study Painting?
I chose painting because I specialised in painting during my foundation. It’s a good practice. It’s looking and seeing and hand eye coordination and it’s also as sculptural or conceptual as you’d like it to be. It’s just a good foundation for anything you might want to go into. A lot of people on the course split into doing other stuff like ceramics or video. We had Clem with her tufting gun making rugs all of third year.
The other thing with the Fine Art Painting course at Brighton is the facilities. You do have your own space, and the studios are built for painters, with brush cleaners dotted around etc. I think it’s good to pick one thing and do it as well as you can for some time and see how things turn out, which is why a specialised course was good for me. It’s also important to mention James Kearns, the course technician who will go out of his way to provide you with any materials or painting knowledge you may need. An absolute machine, he is! If it wasn’t for James, the course wouldn’t fly.
What are your plans after graduation?
Uh Oh! I don’t know. It’s a little bit scary because when the graduates leave, they don’t all keep on painting. And having graduated myself now, and without a studio, I can see exactly how that happens. I think the antidote to dropping off like that is to get together with some like-minded people who also make work, and try and find some kind of studio, and then find somewhere to put a show on. You need that dedicated space. And a job… So that’s my ‘plan’. I’m moving home to find a job to keep painting. And us much as I find it all a bit weird, learning to get your stuff out on social media in your own way is important – it can give you reason to paint when people start to look. That’ll keep me ticking for a little while.