Talk us through your career path since graduating
After graduating with a Fine Art degree in 2008 I became founder member of the Sevenoaks Visual Arts Forum (SVAF) which provided networking opportunities and the chance for critical engagement with like minded artists: much missed after graduating. It has flourished and on completion of my MFA at West Dean in 2019 my colleague Ros Barker, and I put a proposal to Kent County Council to run their purpose built Kaleidoscope gallery as an artist led space on behalf of SVAF. It was successful and the gallery has grown to become not only a home to the Forum and offer opportunities for our members to exhibit but has attracted artists of national repute. Curating experience at West Dean has proved invaluable for such a varied set of exhibitions. It's a lot of work but keeps us in touch with artists in so many disciplines. Community involvement and participation is important to us and we were pleased to receive an award for Community Arts Group of the year in 2022.
Do you have any tips for recent graduates?
An important lesson from West Dean was to create your own artworld in which to practise and exhibit, be it a result of retaining contact with fellow students, joining sympathetic exhibiting groups or applying for as many call out opportunities that are practical for travel and delivery.
What projects are you currently working on?
Currently I am making work to show at the Sussex Prairie Garden in June 2022. This illustrates the point above as it is the product of a generous offer to exhibit from a fellow West Dean graduate. The work results West Dean's encouragement to 'boldly go' and pursue combinations of ideas and materials that might seem unlikely. The West Dean MFA offers so many chances to try out materials and techniques through participation in short courses. My installation will include some small sculptures made during a memorable week mixing and moulding concrete.
What's your favourite memory from your time at the College?
Looking back I think my favourite memories are the relationships forged and having the opportunity to immerse myself completely in coursework with the availability of studio time and generous space. I chose the West Dean course because it encouraged easy interplay between painting, drawing, textiles and tapestry. I have concentrated on embroidery and work with cloth but feel confident to combine disciplines. Probably not everyone's cup of tea but I really enjoyed the dissertation element and the support on hand from both tutors and the library staff to explore and filter so many avenues. The beautiful surroundings have to be mentioned, especially the walk through the walled garden every day to spot the changes and at night to photograph extraordinary shadows.
Find out more about the Master of Fine Art course.