John Kinross Scholar in 2018
How did the experience affect you as an individual?
The scholarship allowed me to spend three months (mid-September to mid-December 2018) soaking up Italian culture and feasting my eyes on art—discovering the city was intoxicating! I’d travelled alone before but never this freely and without an academic institution or job to structure my time. It really tested my limits but opened my mind to new experiences which ended up being very healthy for my art practice.
What was the impact on your practice?
For me, the trip was about looking at as much as possible and trying out lots of new things. The scholarship money went towards short courses in printmaking, fresco, egg tempera, street art and Italian language. Experimenting with new painting techniques was a great way to expand my understanding of the boundaries of each type of paint, which helped me better understand the materiality of oil paint by comparison. I was also struck by the co-dependency of the visual arts and artisan production everywhere in Florence. I fell in love with the craftsmanship I saw in the stonework all around the city, notably the Pietra Dure mosaic-like stone technique. These stone techniques have often since been referenced in my paintings and are still feeding into my work now.
What would you say the long term impact has been on yourself and you work?
Looking back on the experience a year on, I really think engaging in self-motivated research straight after university helped build my confidence that I could sustain my art practice after art school.
Spending time in a city filled with almost exclusively religious art opened my mind to exploring spiritual and religious themes in my own practice. I really focused on these themes for half a year after returning from Florence, and now one of the paintings I made at the time has been shortlisted for the Chaiya Art Awards and will be exhibited later this year as part of an exhibition centred around the themes of religion and spirituality in the 21st century.