John Kinross Scholar in 1999
How did the experience affect you as an individual?
I was lucky to receive the Scholarship at the end of my MFA course at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art. I had previously visited another Scholar and friend Elaine Allison in Florence the previous year, so I was aware of the wonderful opportunity and the benefits she gained from her time there. I had no clear idea what I was going to do after leaving College, so this opportunity came at the perfect time for me.
The time I spent in Florence was magical, being able to sketch outside was a novelty and everything seemed to be bathed in pink light. I still have flashbacks of my time there! It was an enormous privilege being selected and it gave me confidence and valuable time to just be an artist in the most beautiful city. It was also the first time I had been on my own for any length of time and exposed to a different culture and way of life.
What was the impact on your practice?
My work at the time was mainly figurative and portraiture.
I attended life drawing classes in the evenings, I have always loved the atmosphere in a life drawing class. I particularly remember one dancer who was so fluid and expressive, every time she stopped a pose and moved on to the next there was a collective sigh in the class.
I was also struck by the power of art and the effect on people seeing it for the first time. I spent many hours in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo drawing one of my favourite sculptures, The Penitent Magdalene, a wooden sculpture by the Italian Renaissance sculptor Donatello. The public couldn’t see the statue straight away when they entered so were taken aback when turning a corner and there she was! Most people stopped in their tracks, some even stumbled, there were lots of tears, involuntary gasps and moments of sheer wonder and love.
(I had free access to the main galleries and museums thanks to Elaine Allison who somehow manage to secure passes for John Kinross Scholars.)
What would you say the long term impact has been on yourself and you work?
It is hard to say what the long term impact has been on myself and my work. The time spent there seems like a dream now. Being accepted as a scholar and the belief tutors had in my abilities counted for a lot at the time. I had so many sketches, photographs and memories, the material I gathered continued to influence my painting for many years. I also applied for other residencies in the UK and abroad as a direct consequence of my experience in Florence.