Jo Ganter RSA, Barium Chromate, photo etching and aquatint, edition of 10

John Kinross Scholar in 1988

How did the experience affect you as an individual?
The three months that I spent in Italy as a Kinross Scholar, was the first extended period that I had lived abroad. I remember that in my application for the scholarship I said that I wanted to live in Florence for long enough for it to become ordinary; I wanted to be able to see the city as something akin to the way a native sees it and simply live in it rather than be constantly visiting particular sites of interest. Of course, three months was not long enough to accomplish the contempt bred by familiarity but I did get to know it very well.  I walked around it daily, drawing the buildings and streets in charcoal.


What was the impact on your practice?
In 1988, black and white etchings of architecture dominated my work. In Edinburgh I had concentrated on those building surrounded by scaffolding as a way of escaping the cliche the city’s beautiful classical architecture. The building site that is now John Lewis was a major source of inspiration. Florence
provided a similar problem, but I drew its narrow streets and
market stalls enjoying the details of light and shade and texture
they provided.

Jo Ganter RSA Street Corner Florence, softground etching and aquatint, 1988, RSA Collection
My postgraduate diploma show at Edinburgh was made of nine two-meter tall etchings of these narrow streets, the external shutters casting shadows and forms of light and dark. The scale and the deep blacks making them more monumental than most artistic views of the city.


What would you say the long-term impact has been on yourself and you work?
Receiving the scholarship was an important boost to my confidence and enabled my ambition to continue as an artist after college. It established a greater knowledge of Italy as a country and allowed me time to learn the language and make friends there all of which were fundamental for me the next year as a scholar at The British School at Rome. I have travelled to many places and had residencies since but that first supported trip abroad, without an institution to go to or answer to, taught me self-sufficiency and motivation that will always be important.