Graduates 2023: Molly O’Neill: MA Fine Art

The highlights of the course for me have been being lucky enough to have a studio space in Brighton to share with my peers and being inspired by working in the space with other like-minded artists.

Please tell us a bit about your work and your influences

In my practice, I use collage as a portal between a contemporary world and a romantic past which links current and historical ideas. Collage makes my work look timeless, separating it from being attached to a specific era. I use moving-image to explore my emotional response to different texts presenting a contemporary perspective towards literature from the past. I use poems that explore themes I can relate to, which lets me offer a modern perspective on past experiences and see what connects or disconnects them. I explore my ideas through the use of moving image work as well as collages and acrylic paintings. Painting allows me to communicate with a space whilst spending time with it. My influences come from literature, art and music, for my latest project I was influenced a lot by the graphic novel Here by Richard Maguire and the graphic novel adaptation of Paradise Lost written by John Milton and illustrated by Pablo Auladell. I have also been influenced by moving image artists such as Elizabeth Price.

Can you tell us a bit about your journey to your course and what made you choose it?

I studied Illustration Animation at Kingston School of Art and then went on to study for a  Master’s degree in Fine Art at the University of Brighton. I have worked freelance for the last few years in both illustration and animation jobs, working with companies such as Be the Fox and Unilever. After working freelance for a while I decided I wanted to have more focus on the concept of my work and since studying for my Master’s I have realised that the focus of my work is usually around nature.

Due to the current climate crisis, I have been driven to focus my work around empathy for nature and how this can bring us closer to understanding the importance of looking after the environment. I have focused my research on “Deep ecology”. This is a term brought to us by the Norwegian philosopher  Arne Naess, in 1972 and I’m working with moving image as a tool to understand our connection to nature.


What were the highlights of the course for you?

The highlights of the course for me have been being lucky enough to have a studio space in Brighton to share with my peers and being inspired by working in the space with other like-minded artists. I feel this year has been key in developing my practice as it has enabled me to push my ideas further and understand myself as a practitioner to be able to understand my goals and aims as an artist. This has all been supported by a great team of tutors who have helped me to analyse and reconsolidate my ideas.


Was the location of your course in Brighton important?

Studying at the University of  Brighton was important to me because I was born and raised in Brighton, and it has had a huge impact on who I am. I knew I wanted to be based here again and studying at the university has enabled me to build a network here so in the future hopefully I can work with Brighton as my base and feed back into the community by basing exhibitions and projects here. Brighton is particularly cultivating for an artistic practice due to its versatile access to the countryside and nature as well as its busy city centre.


What are your plans after graduation? What’s next for you?

I aim to continue my working practice and apply for project funding for a few ideas I have. I also aim to begin my graphic novel adaptation of The Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti. I also have a screening coming up in July at the RYBKA (the fish likes to Swim) fish and chip shop with a few of my peers and in the future, I want to continue to put on events and exhibitions like this one to cultivate a conversation around the climate crisis.


What advice would you give to someone considering doing postgraduate study?

I would say go for it and be prepared to not know the outcome and who you will meet. Even though I have just had a year of study I have learnt so much about my practice and have gained confidence in continuing my working practice following this year. I now understand my goals as an artist and why I want to create the work I do. This is liberating, in the sense that now I can get on with creating and knowing where the core of my practice is based.

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