The Drawing Year 2013
BA Fine Art Printmaking, University of Brighton
While working on a six-month residency at the Muse Gallery in Portobello Road after leaving university, I realised that if I were to push my work forward, beyond my own imagination and memory, I needed to expand my knowledge and strengthen my techniques. I really wanted to be based in London where art is everywhere and the diversity of courses that made up The Drawing Year offered an intense programme. This really appealed to me. I was unsuccessful on my first attempt, but I knew that I wanted and needed to try again.
At university I learned through process – instruction in the techniques of printmaking. The course was time-consuming and comprehensive, but I knew I needed to broaden my practice on a more observational level – and I wanted to paint. The Drawing Year, with its range of courses, often moved me out of my comfort zone, taking us from the landscape of the London parks, into the life drawing room with a man in a Minotaur costume, or out into the hustle and bustle of Ridley Road market. It was artistically and emotionally life-expanding.
I quickly became aware that you only get out of The Drawing Year what you put in. London is a city full of inspiration, which I was constantly absorbing and always trying to find my focus in. I had already established a subject matter, but I knew that by approaching drawing in different ways I could be challenged. Artists are constantly editing the things they see, but I was being taught how to become more aware even before starting to draw – cultivating a strong desire to discover through drawing what I am seeing. One of the most important lessons I will take from The Drawing Year is to keep observing the world around me with an inquisitive eye.
After graduating, my drawings were selected to be exhibited in Christie’s, New York alongside alumni, tutors and associated artists, it was a real honour. I was also part of a group show at Blain Southern Gallery with two other alumni and have exhibited in The Marmite Painting Prize and the Lynn Painter-Stainer Prize.
The Drawing Year has given me confidence to enter competitions and I was even lucky enough to win The Sunday Times Watercolour competition in both 2014 and 2016. In August 2017 I was part of The Painting Show, an exhibition of work from seven Royal Drawing School alumni in a disused warehouse in Brixton. Being part of this collective is really exciting and we have more shows in the pipeline for the near future.
I have been selected for two residencies through the Royal Drawing School which have pushed me professionally and expanded my practice. The Dumfries House residency in Scotland was a great escape from the noise and rush of city life. Fresh air and peace is very important. Knowing that I had to return in two weeks, I found it a great push to get stuck into the landscape and to discover it for myself. Work made on the residency helped fuel paintings back in the studio.
I also went on the Arts for India Residency in Modinagar near Delhi, where I worked as an artist-in-residence and taught. The students were all very eager to learn new ways of working. India was incredible in all its colours and shades and I am truly grateful to The Royal Drawing School for giving me this fabulous opportunity. I can’t wait to return.