John Kinross Scholar in 2007
Lisette Degioanni, Rhian, oil on canvas
How did the experience affect you as an individual?
As a mature student with a family to look after, I was not able to put myself first… Getting the Kinross scholarship meant I could do just that. For that very precious time that I spent in Florence, my time was my own to visit every gallery and museum, sketch, make notes and just soak it all in. Having previously studied history of Art, seeing those works of art I knew so well through books, right there in front of me, was so powerful it felt like finding a long lost friend in a crowd!
For me getting the scholarship had an added very personal importance. My father was Italian, and we visited Italy every summer until his death. As I was only eight when he died, I lost all links to the country then, and therefore going back to Italy had a very strong emotional meaning to me.
What was the impact on your practice?
Being in Florence surrounded by so much art I felt I had to record it all. Looking at such high level of craftsmanship in all disciples was very humbling. I sketched and took as many photographs as I could of anything that interested me, not being sure at the time if I would ever use any particular image. This gave me a sort of visual dictionary that I have used over the years.
What would you say the long-term impact has been on yourself and you work?
From that experience I have kept taking images and storing them for later use. It also taught me to look at the masters in greater detail. Their choices of subjects are not relevant to us but there is so much that we can learn from them! It is only when you are in front of a Botticelli that you can appreciate its freshness and the elegance of his marks… Being in Florence taught me to ‘see’ more, to notice the small details that can so easily be overlooked.
From a personal level getting the Kinross Scholarship made me feel that my practice was given some validation, and that is still very important to me.