John Kinross Scholar in 2014


How did the experience affect you as an individual?
Receiving the scholarship gave me a huge confidence boost and a plan of sorts for the first few months out of art school, making the transition into the wider world a good bit smoother. It coaxed me out of my comfort zone as I would likely not have moved to a country where I didn’t know anyone or speak the language for two months off my own bat but the experience of this proved to be a great learning curve and taught me the joys of solo travelling, embracing the awkwardness of social misunderstandings and fully immersing myself in a new place.

What was the impact on your practice?
Florence is spellbinding and inspiring but it can also be overwhelming; there’s sublime art and history to take in around almost every corner and all of your senses are piqued. Some visitors can be so affected that they experience physical symptoms in the form of Stendhal Syndrome. (I escaped unharmed, aside from a brief touch of vertigo after craning up at Vasari’s The Last Judgement for too long). The art I made on my trip dealt with these overwhelming feelings and the sense of not
knowing where to start with processing your experiences of a place with such a rich and influential cultural history. I drew, recorded, embroidered, undertook some guerrilla mould making and created 3D models which later became animations.

Near the end of my stay I picked up some shifts helping at a local art school with a fellow scholar, where in return I was able to use their darkroom. There I started experimenting with ‘laptopogram’ contact prints for the first time using my pictures from the trip, for example the 75 photos I took of Madonna with child paintings in the Uffizi, and these prints are the work I’m most fond of from the trip.

What would you say the long term impact has been on yourself and you work?
After a few years of not making any art I’ve come back to it in a different form, making motifs and scenes out of clay, and I’m finding that things I discovered in Florence do very much weave their way into what I’m making now. I fell in love with the pietra dura marble work you can see throughout the city, most notably in the walls and floor of the Medici Chapels, and this inlaid marble technique has informed the way I’ve been working with sheets of clay, without me even initially realising.

It was great to bond and compare notes with the other scholars over aperitivo, I am still in touch with many of them and have made some great friendships which I’m very thankful for. I think of the whole experience as a formative artist’s summer camp which I will probably be daydreaming about for years to come.

Abigail Dryburgh, Fire and Brimstone series, polymer clay, various sizes, 2019