John Kinross Scholar in 1998
How did the experience affect you as an individual?
I was fresh out of art school, graduating in painting at Gray’s School of Art. At 21years old I as a rather naive young girl who was a relatively inexperienced traveller. I was rather daunted at the prospect of living in Florence for 3 months. Armed with my copy of ‘Room With A View’ I had romantic notions of traipsing the streets of Florence and having a romantic liaison! I was lucky a friend Patsy MacArthur was also going at the same time so we shared a flat together. The John Kinross Scholarship was a wonderful tonic after the hard graft of finishing a degree, not only did it give me time and freedom to produce work in a beautiful place, but also the luxury of immersing myself in a different culture. The social aspect was very influential on my time in Florence. I made lots of new friends, locals and other fellow travellers. The highlight was staying at Macchiavelli’s hunting lodge where Patsy and I sampled their home made wine, cheese and olives. It really was a fairy tale experience even housing a Romeo and Juliet balcony. For a few months we felt like locals but I’m sure we stuck out like a sore thumbs.
What was the impact on your practice?
The main thing it taught me was the importance of drawing from life. I didn’t feel much pressure so there is a looseness to my sketches that I don’t think I had experienced before. I was lucky enough to acquire a flat with a balcony with stunning views of Tuscan hills and Fiesole (my’Room With A View’) It was the perfect spot to soak up the atmosphere. I would find a nice shady spot and would meditatively draw the terracotta tiled roof tops and cypress tree dotted landscape. It really was idyllic. I learnt to research my work not just with my eyes but with my feet too. Exploring, getting lost, letting ideas flow. Painting wise I experimented with surface and layering incorporating a grid pattern, like a mosquito net by scoring the painted surface with the end of my paint brush. It was a really fun time living out the fantasy of being an artist abroad.
What would you say the long term impact has been on yourself and your work?
It was an unforgettable experience. I treasure the sketchbooks I made in Florence as it transports me back to that care free time. I think long term I gained confidence in myself as an artist and as a traveller. I really appreciated the time I had in Florence, as it postponed the reality of the real world, getting a job and the balancing act of job versus art. I can’t thank the John Kinross Trust enough for awarding me this life changing experience.