John Kinross Scholar in 2009.
How did the experience affect you as an individual?
My time in Florence was influential in establishing an enduring relationship with Italy. I continue to return at least once a year.
Whilst living in Florence I attended an Italian language school twice a week and, ‘poco a poco’, my language skills improved. This allowed me to go on to work in Italy, in Venice on various occasions, and for extended periods in rural parts of Umbria.
The trip changed my approach to travel- instead of flying visits where only a fleeting glimpse will ever be had, I prefer, where possible, to stay and work in a place for an extended period of time in order to more slowly accrue knowledge of a place
What was the impact on your practice?
The Kinross scholarship provided the space to dedicate an intense period of time to looking and drawing- a time I’m almost certain I will never have again. Almost every day was spent with pencil in hand; fine tuning an intuitive connection from eye, to hand, to line on page.
My application was motivated by developing interests in aesthetics and the history of drawing. Florence was the ideal place to investigate the ways in which western culture was shaped through the rebirth of classical thinking and how drawing was used as the vehicle by which people started to see and question the world around us. In parallel to drawing, I began to engage much more directly with relevant historic and contemporary theory.
This study constituted one strand of a year-long study which positioned western approaches to representation and aesthetic philosophy, in relation to those of Japan. In the same year, I was privileged to receive a Carnegie Research Scholarship which provided the funds to travel to Japan and scratch the surface of another way of seeing the world.
The immediate output of both trips was a series of drawings, paintings and writings.
What would you say the long term impact has been on yourself and you work?
I now co-direct an architectural and design practice STUDIO NIRO, and am also engaged in architectural education. The work of my practice and teaching relies on developing dialogues between practice and theory, which I believe were established during my time in Florence. The Kinross Scholarship, along with my time in Japan, gave context to my practice and went some way to explain the deep reaching cultural and historical factors which influenced, and continue to influence the way I work.