“try to get your foot in the door”

During my undergraduate degree at university I was lucky enough to exhibit my work as a part of my final year assessment. This exhibition was the first exhibition I had ever had as artist: I made business cards, captions it was somewhat surreal for my 21 year-old self.

Molly Cawthorn, May 2019

Beginning enrolment of my postgraduate degree, I anticipated a further two exhibitions as a part of the curriculum, however, due to covid-19 these physical exhibitions did not go ahead. The key word here is physical – but I must admit, I did feel as though the cancellation of these exhibits felt defeating.
“That’s what artist’s do, right?” I thought to myself.

Catching up with the art community during a world-wide pandemic has had its challenges. Despite the difficulties, I wholeheartedly believe artists have been supported more than ever : not only by each other, but by art-lovers as well.
Our innate desire to connect to creative projects and be creative occupies about half of our brain, and so, whilst the majority of adults were on furlough slowly becoming one with their couch, they became hungrier than ever for art.
And so I thought to myself, “That’s what artists do. Right!”

“a passion project”

During March 2021, I noticed an advert in the window of a previously for-let shop on St. John’s Street Cambridge, seeking local artists’ submissions.

Of course, I sent over my work and kept my fingers crossed (never ignore an opportunity!).

Fortunately, I was lucky enough to be accepted into the gallery’s first exhibition showcasing the work of young, local artists aged 14-25 from May – July.
I was – and continue to be – overjoyed by the motivation behind Gallerie V‘s director, Samanatha de Reus’ desire to open a gallery for young adults. Her passion for art, more specifically young artists, has spurred me on to help showcase young talent.

Conversations with the exhibitors

Q: Do you aspire to be a full-time artist/are you a full time artist?

I asked this question to demonstrate how challenging an art career is perceived in society, particularly by young people. It is consistently presented to us as a “dream” or as a “hobby” alongside a “regular” job (whatever that is?). From being discouraged to being an artist alongside another job – what is clear is that no matter the time constraints or financial difficulties, art will be created.

I am currently (and supposed to be) a full time postgraduate student, however I do consider myself a full-time artist. – Victoria Pham

Yes, it has always been an aspiration. I would love to make my name known in the art community. I want to have my style recognised among other artists and have the sense of own identity which people will refer to once they see my own work. Art is my biggest passion and taking it further than just a hobby, such as creating commissions and distinctive pieces for people to install in their homes, would be the absolute goal. This exhibition at Gallery V and also creating my personal art Instagram, @__art.gabriela, to show my artwork to a wider community than just family and friends, has really helped me grow as an artist in the community. – Gabriela Zhelyazkova

Actually no! I’m currently studying German and Linguistics instead. I was discouraged by my teacher from taking GCSE art, even though I loved it she said I would never do any good so I didn’t take it at GCSE or A level. But I keep doing it, for fun, as its a favourite way to use my time. – Ellie Defries

Yes, it would be a dream for me to be a full time artist. I currently have a shop where I sell prints and stickers of my work on the side whilst I’m studying and working which I would love to be able to expand. – Zoe Firth

No, I am planning to study engineering however I hope to continue doing art alongside it. – Neelam Solanki

Q: How do you feel about having the opportunity to exhibit?

Young/new artists find it difficult to enter the exhibition world.
This sort of vicious cycle is ever-present when searching for your first job. When each job opportunity description asks for previous experience, it is extremely difficult to be considered – as a person. This question aims to evoke the artist’s personal journey into the artworld-sphere.

Credit and copyright to Neelam Solanki

Super […] as it is my first time exhibiting in Cambridge outside of my university gallery! And even better as I feel like I’ve made a new network of young artists in my area! – Anna Dermitzaki

As an Australian, this is the first opportunity I have had to exhibit in the UK. I only just moved to the UK a few months prior to the pandemic and so most of my work continued to stem from my home country and connections in my previous country of residence, France. I am very grateful to galleries such as this that provide such support for young artists which is vital for our development and for many, the first opportunity for professional exhibition. One of the best components coming out of Gallerie V was my first chance (especially post lockdown) to meet fellow and local artists. – Victoria Pham

Really excited, I never really considered having my work out for display but when this opportunity arose, I thought why not! It was nice to have other people be able to see it and it has made me excited to create more pieces in the future. – Neelam Solanki

Having the opportunity to exhibit was an amazing experience, which provided me with a platform to express my creativity and also the opportunity to display my artwork to the public of Cambridge. This was a huge achievement for me as it has always been a massive ambition of mine to have my work in a gallery. It allowed me to grow confidence in my artwork but also gain knowledge and interesting new techniques from other fellow artists. – Gabriela Zhelyazkova

It’s been an amazing experience. The past year and a half has been really daunting and to try to survive and still believe in oneself as an artist was a real challenge so I think this opportunity, and I will take to liberty to speak for all my fellow artists, gave us a purpose again and hope. – Edina Horvathova

The opportunity is great as sometimes it can be hard to be taken seriously as a young artist. It can be hard to get your voice heard and your work seen so this exhibition is a real boost for us to get our work out there not only for other artists to see but for the general public too! – Zoe Firth

I appreciate the opportunity to showcase work in my home town, and I respect the sentiment of wanting to showcase young artists. – Sree M.

Q: What inspired you to create your exhibited work?

I personally wanted to find out more about each individual’s work from a more personal perspective. It is so interesting to see who and what people are inspired by.

Anna Dermitzaki

“I was going through a challenging time, and found that by returning to making art I had an escape from the troubles and a new way of looking at life”.

Victoria Pham

“Incorporating portraiture and landscape photos, the series explores my time as an archaeological photo-documenter on expedition to Kantarodai, Sri Lanka. In terms of inspiration, all the stories I collected were informed directly upon my reflection on a post-civil war landscape and with each individual I met on the trip.”

Gabriela Zhelyazkova

“I created this triptych with the idea of entrapment, which many of us experienced through the past year. […] I created the hands and the arm from clay, sculpting an illusion of realism and […] panic behind the glass, yet still looking peaceful at the same time […]. In a different light, it hits the resin droplets further implementing the illusion. Overall, this monochromatic triptych tells a story of panic, and eventually, the woman inside drowns peacefully, essentially giving up […].”

Edina Horvathova

“I have always liked the idea of classic art and what went into it but when I started practicing it I’ve been met with a lot of stereotypes what classical art should and should not look like down to the smallest detail of how the canvas should be stretched and how many nails to use to do it. From there I took on an experimental approach where I think of my work as the redefinition of the classic conservative art making. The material used is the same in its essence just in a different way.”

Zoe Firth

“I am inspired by the events in my life as well as trying to portray emotion through simple objects and colour. I like to create semi-realistic disturbing pieces on brightly coloured backgrounds as it starts conversation and allows people to decide their own meanings behind the piece.”

Vienna Zhang

“The use of colours reflected around the painting in John Singer Sargent’s “A Dinner Table At Night” inspired me to use red as the predominant colour in my painting. I was intrigued by his red lamps, so I created my own, though the tone of my piece is very different to that of Sargent’s.”

Sree M.

“Isolation during the pandemic, and missing travelling and sunshine.”

Neelam Solanki

“I wanted to do something that was colourful but not in an obvious way, and also something that was different and makes you look twice. I took inspiration from other artists work, like Alex Garant and Malena Bozzini.”

More Work from the Exhibition


My work

“diaspora vapour”

“Diaspora Vapor” is a collection of works that aims to further the research, experiments, and ideas initially explored in my previous series “Dyfed Forests”

By working in monochrome, I assess and manipulate mixed media to create an image that concerns the concept of space and distance, balanced by paths within macro-micro compositions inspired by the landscape. By utilizing tone in a minimalist colour palette I create shapes reminiscent of mountains, trees, and waterfalls: all of which are primary motifs of Chinese and Japanese images of nature.

The concept of diaspora has appeared frequently in my research and recently became apparent during my move to Cambridge from Wales. The sensation of feeling mixed by experiencing a change in landscape or settlement has affected artists for generations: from the movements within the Asuka and Nara periods in Japan to late 20th century China, the innate and somewhat “caveman” instinct to long for one’s homeland resonates with me. Having recently moved from Wales – a landscape surrounded by mountains and sea – to Cambridge in South England, it has been quite the contrast: the landscape is flat for miles, we are surrounded by marshland and rivers, with record-breaking high temperatures penetrating the shade from abundant forests.

During this resettlement process, I have attempted to capture the nature of diaspora, the feelings it inspires and causes: negative and positive connotations which balance within a composition in an abstract space containing remnants of the Welsh landscape prints, Chinese calligraphy, the Japanese’s sense of distance, and the metropolitan atmosphere of Cambridge and its forests. By capturing the essence of a memory, the choices we make, and the paths we choose, literally and figuratively, I hope to inspire viewers to enter into the landscapes I have created and feel like they are following or beginning a journey themselves.

– Molly Cawthorn


Thank yous from the artists

“I would like to say a huge thank you to Gallerie V for giving me this amazing opportunity and also MollsPortfolio for giving me her platform to share my experiences in her lovely blog.” – Gabriela Zhelyaskova

“I wish to thank Gallerie V director Samantha de Reus for her vision and trust in myself to exhibit work as part of this gallery and for her passionate support for young artists. This level of vision and encouragement through a gallery or professional outlet is invaluable and rare.” – Victoria Pham

Despite everyone’s work being so different, it is great to have a space for young artists in the area to exhibit! Extremely grateful to be part of this opportunity, and hope to be part of more opportunities like this in the future! – Anna Dermitzaki

Final words from me

I would like to say thank you to Samantha de Reus for setting up a wonderful passion project educating and promoting young artists’ work. I would also like to thank for all of the artists who volunteered to answer my questionnaire and who wanted to be included on my blog. I am so grateful for this opportunity and I hope that this blog post gave some more insight into the exhibition, fellow artists’ work, and the artworld as a whole.


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