Sophie-Nicole Dodds

Drawing Year 2022

Bespoke Tailoring, London College of Fashion

Design: Expanded Practice, Goldsmiths


Tell us about your practice and the part that drawing plays...

My background is in bespoke tailoring but after working in a tailors I started to do more printmaking about the tailoring and fashion presentations I had done. I then became drawn to everyday moments of garments in terms of repair, care and wear. I like to work with textile objects from museum collections as well as my own 'archive' of garments, whether that be historical textiles or our own everyday textiles. Drawing has always been central to my work, from designing garments, capturing movements of people in everyday settings, to unworn strewn about cloth.

What were you doing before The Drawing Year and what drew you to apply?

I had completed my Masters in Design: Expanded Practice at Goldsmiths in December 2020 where my making focused on expanded fashion practices. I then had been working as a costume maker at Academy Costumes for film and theatre, where I still work, as well doing an internship called ‘Illuminating Objects’ at The Courtauld Gallery in conjunction with the Science Museum. The masters had really honed in on my drawing with ideas of thinking through drawing and drawing for fieldwork capturing quick movements, rather than just drawing for designing or drawing for studies, which I tried to implement in the Courtauld internship. I was then asked to be a 'drawing documenter' for an un-picking garment workshop and this made think I should apply to focus solely on one thing, drawing, for a year.


Which courses have most impacted your practice?

So many! But Drawing at The National Gallery for sure, Mark and Ann are just so knowledgeable and although a difficult course to navigate as you don't really know what you are looking to gain from it when you start, you come out of it having taken in so much. Drawing at the British Museum similarly but for being around 3D objects, Marcus and Lindsay really made this for me with different techniques to use. For this reason also, World Imagery in Art and Enduring Images: Stories of Art, they took me out of my comfort zone and made me look at the life room in new ways. The outdoor courses such as London Parks also impacted my practice but more for just being a loose free class to draw what we wanted and all being outside together exploring and even swimming, to then draw from these different natural events and occurrences throughout the day. And of course print! It was so wonderful to access to these facilities and build upon more practical skills I'd already had in printmaking but had never been able to have such an accessible approach to acid etching.

Tell us about the sense of community on the course...

I think coming out of the pandemic, we were all very excited to be back in physical spaces with people again and we fully integrated ourselves into the Royal Drawing School world. The discussions with people on the course have been some of the most valuable lessons; the trips that we've been on have been some of my favourite memories and being in the studio together, I've definitely made some friends for life. Particularly as it can be an intense space to navigate through with people you are with every single day, but there is a big sense of community on the course as you can get quite close quite quickly, but what is good is that you have people on the course of all different ages and times in their life which helps to get different perspectives on your work.


Which tutors have you most enjoyed working with and why?

Mark Cazalet is just a wonderful inspiring tutor, I learnt so much from him about colour (which I used nothing of before the course). Lindsay Sekulowicz and Antje Southern working together was amazing to witness, they just bounced off one another so well and I felt like the ideas they were giving and the lesson plans felt more like my masters in terms of drawing and so I felt comfortable but also pushed, I'd love to just have a whole course run by these two! Marcus Cornish again such a great tutor, I had my first tutorial with Marcus and he seemed to just completely understand my sense of drawing/practice/struggles and gave practical and thoughtful advice, I always learn so much from his lessons even if some are not my natural approach. Maggie Jennings and Rossen Daskalov in print were completely invaluable as well.


What are the most important things that you've learned during the year? 

I think you learn a lot from the year in hindsight, as it's a very full-on, intense course that at the time during certain classes or tutorials may seem hard to make sense of in your mind for your own practice. But it's also such a precious time to only focus on one thing and you just have to learn to soak it all up. Sometimes you will have bad drawing weeks or good drawing weeks but they all add to the work.


What has surprised you about The Drawing Year?

It's amazing how tiring drawing all day and all week can make you! But how in that tired state you can produce some of your best work! I'm not really sure what surprised me but it's a one of kind year that you just wouldn't get on any other full-time, year-long course anywhere else.

What opportunities have arisen due to The Drawing Year?

I applied for and got accepted for the Dumfries House Residency coming up in May with fellow course-mate Marco Allegretti. Residencies were something I really wanted to get out of this next year from finishing the course so the fact we get lots of alumni residency opportunities is really great. To have three exhibitions has been great - particularly coming out of the pandemic with everything online - the network of people you meet from these has been amazing. The Tuscany trip with everyone was also such a brilliant opportunity. As I'm not a painter I found it difficult, but the colour mixing was so helpful and again just being in that space around tutors/classmates/hosts was a very enriching experience. 

What support have the School been able to offer you, financially or personally?

The School were helpful financially to me through termly grants which really helped towards my travel and materials, as I don't have financial support and could only work up to 2 days a week due to the course being full-time.


What does it mean to you that the course has no fees and a free studio space?

Everything. The free tuition and studio is such an important aspect. Particularly as living in London is so expensive and although I've done degrees through the normal system to not have any extra student debts is invaluable as an artist. Although you have to support yourself for accommodation, etc. it's still providing a space for people from all backgrounds to apply. 

What advice would you give to someone considering applying for the course?

Be prepared to set aside your personal practice for a while, and just let yourself be ok. Save up before you come if you don't have financial help! And if you have never lived in London and can afford to stay near the School and the studios it will feel more community based and you won't be so tired from all the travel. If you don't use a sketchbook much, start early to get in the swing of things for applying, you'll see if can actually hack drawing so much and perhaps understand what you want to get out of the course.