John Kinross Scholar in 2008
At the time of the Scholarship:
How did the experience affect you as an individual?
A profound experience.
The time there just after graduating from GSA was in perfect timing, carry on with artwork, but leave for a while. Yet, let’s point out that it didn’t resemble a holiday. I lived in a surprisingly cold Florence November to January. So, I only got to know fellow recipients of the award very briefly as they’d been there during the summer. I also wanted the award to last a whole 3 months meaning I decided to live as minimally as possible – where the free pass into museums and galleries was well worn. Still, something romantic about this description of art ‘hard-won’ in the Italian winter don’t you think?
Museo La Specola of 17th century anatomical wax works, and taxidermy collection became a favourite source of practice and learning for me. I had a solo exhibition there a year later. The skip-the-queue pass allowed me to enter important collections just to look at a few works at a time; allowing me to avoid image-overload and hastiness.
My return to England was a 16 day scooter journey in January across the Alps is another adventure in its own that I often mention in conversation.
What was the impact on your practice?
On retrospect it strikes me that Florence was an image based learning experience for me, and I learned from many images whose compositions I’d always loved – from the architectural line drawing to the metaphysical orchestrations often airborne and circulating, with otherworldly questions of an afterlife deeply rooted in illustrating these ideas through the body. I concentrated on the areas of anatomy, botany and amalgamating disparate elements into rhythmic flowing compositions. My work had to be condensed in order to travel better, which actually meant this was the time that the intensity and quality within my sketchbook work matured.
What would you say the long term impact has been on yourself and you work?
NOW – The most important question!
The SKETCHBOOK, is at present in many respects what my whole practice is reliant and based upon. This development eventually led me to presently be making numerous works and murals that attempt to expose learnings, workings, practices, hesitations, errors as well as finished items, all these things I believe demonstrates an unpretentious exposure I hope to bring to my practice whenever possible. These murals I call ‘the sketchbook murals’ (themuralofmurals.com). The Kinross helped me learn how to make artwork and travel, for example, I have made murals (and safely kept drawings) during a trip across the America’s (on land from Brazil to Colombia, Mex to Canada) and Europe, so far.
My realisation concerning what I had learned from my time in Florence was a slow development that took me a long time to see that the most abundant new work I’d made there were actually all the studies, research notes with drawings. The sketchbooks made were showing a mind alive, brimming with possibilities. They showed processes that finished and minimalised or considered artwork doesn’t show. The sketches no longer contained that ‘immaculate conception’ of an artwork that can have a very distancing effect on the audience, especially those whom do not feel versed in the visual arts.