Master of Fine Art 2003 - 2005

Tim Kent

Artist

Talk us through your career path since graduating.

I graduated from West Dean College of Arts and Conservation in 2005 with distinction in MA in Visual Arts. After graduating, I did a three-month residency culminating in a joint exhibition with fellow West Dean College alumna, Pippa Blake, in a large barn owned by Elspeth Bray in West Sussex, now known as Moncrieff-Bray Gallery. During the time I was there, and through discussions with Pippa and Elspeth, I applied my strength and passion for rendering architecture in paint, a practice which I had begun developing whilst preparing for the final thesis show at West Dean College. The first show at Elspeth’s barn was a success, and I returned to New York with my earnings to set up a very small shared studio in Chinatown, with a “do or die” attitude. 

From 2007-2012, I travelled regularly to the UK, visiting many stately homes to photograph and sketch these magnificent buildings, meeting their current owners and accessing magnificent examples of art, architecture, landscape design, etc. These included Castle Howard, Boughton, Holkham Hall, Chatsworth, Wentworth Woodhouse, to name but a few. These places inspired me to paint works for further shows at Moncrieff-Bray Gallery in my Chinatown studio. During that time, I met a network of people, with whom I have kept in regular contact, and have worked with over the years on several creative projects. These have included creative collaborations with international interior designers, such as Miles Redd and Nicki Haslam, as well as making permanent works for Hugo Boss, Levi’s, Max Mara and Diesel, et al. I was also working hard on trying to get representation with a New York gallery, and so began working with artists internationally, as well as in Brooklyn, curating and collaborating in group shows. Eventually, I got my first solo exhibition in 2009.

In 2013, I signed on with my current gallery in Chelsea, New York and with them have exhibited regularly in the US and Europe, in both commercial and cultural venues.  

What projects are you currently working on?

I am busy working on two upcoming shows, one for early summer here in NYC, and the other for spring 2021, with a new gallery in Montreal... and perhaps an art fair or two. Both shows will include large and small format oil paintings - recently, I have fallen in love with gouache, so I’ll see how many of those I can sneak into each show. I continue to work with Miles Redd when he has clients who are interested in my work, and I teach one day a week at Montclair State University on their Visual Arts programme, in both advanced integrated studio classes as well as foundations.

What do you consider your biggest achievement to date?

Perhaps my biggest achievement to date is being able to maintain my studio and make new works. As we are experiencing now, every year brings new surprises and challenges. As a creative professional I feel that versatility is the main goal of surviving in a highly competitive climate, and one that is demanding on me as ‘the creative engine’.  

Do you have any tips for recent graduates?

Don’t let the bubble burst!

During my last couple of months at West Dean College, I was chatting with a friend in Clocks. He and I had both shared such good experiences, but I was worried that when I left the bubble would burst. He simply said “don’t let it”, and thus so far, I haven’t.

We all come from different life situations, and not all of our lives will allow us to continue working and learning as we had done during our time at West Dean College. I think the most important thing is to quickly adjust to the real world, by that I mean establishing your practice while at the same time managing the day to day life. If you can achieve a balance between your practice and the demands of daily life, then you will be set on a successful path.

How do you think studying at West Dean College prepared you for what you do now?

Esoteric instruction and like-minded peers made the exchange of ideas fruitful and competitive in a healthy environment. The College had excellent studios and workshops facilities, backed up by incredible and cheerful technical and housekeeping staff, which allowed time for intense focus and practice, and a deeper learning experience. 

What's your favourite memory from your time at the College?

A procession of strangers with heads like peacocks and stags walking through magical halls,
Chocolate fountains surrounded by nymphs,
A lobster!
Meanwhile foxes howl, sheep bleat, shooting stars and a satellite,
The clock clangs and I can’t wait for the day to begin again to get back into the studio.