John Kinross Scholar in 2012.
How did the experience affect you as an individual?
At the time the scholarship experience had a great impact on me as an individual. Learning to speak Italian was the first great benefit; the experience of learning the language itself opened up further opportunities while in Florence. One of these was collaborating with Gli Anelli Mancanti, an NGO that assisted newly arrived immigrants and refugees to Italy. The impact of working with this NGO is not easy to summarise, but it meant I had a much deeper understanding of the human cost of what would later be abstractly called ‘the migrant crisis’.
What was the impact on your practice?
My time in Florence was the first time as an artist that I attempted collaborating with a large and diverse community to make art. Previously I had attempted collaborative projects online or through ‘mail art’ – this was an entirely different and far more challenging experience.
What would you say the long term impact has been on yourself and you work?
My time in Italy has had considerable impact on me in the years since. Following my collaboration with the NGO in Florence, I later moved to China, and began working with a series of NGOs there to continuing making community-based artworks. This process has led me to making artwork with construction workers and on factory assembly lines. Learning Italian also gave me the confidence to later begin learning Chinese, which was a more daunting task but essential for the kinds of collaborative projects I wanted to work on. My artwork since has by no means been exclusively collaboratively made, but the lessons I learnt in Florence have been a key part of my practice.