“better late than never”
After the Cambridge School of Art Exhibitions were scrapped last year due to Covid-19, the BA class of 2020 at Anglia Ruskin university contacted Gallerie V in the hope that they could rig their cancelled show in the not-for-profit gallery space.
” I feel so grateful to be given the opportunity to showcase our work, especially as our in-person exhibitions last year when graduating were scrapped due to Covid. It is thanks to Jodie Howard who helped organise this, which is why we are able to exhibit alongside Samantha who allowed us to finally host an exhibition.”– Lizzie Knott
“I felt very excited about this opportunity to showcase my work alongside my class mates.”– Edmund Rogers
As well as the class of 2020 exhibition, the gallery is also exhibiting a group of local artists. As a not-for profit gallery, the owner aims to give these two groups of local artists exposure and the chance to exhibit as young aspiring artists.
Conversations with the exhibitors
Q: What inspired you to be an artist?
All artists are inspired to make art, whether it was caused by someone or something – I asked the exhibiting artists to see how they became initially drawn to art.
Seeing my grandfather’s watercolour paintings that he had been creating since he was a teenager – Tara Panesar
For years, it has been physically impossible for me to stop painting. I am somewhat obsessed with getting my interpretation of the world on paper (or, in this case, canvas), because it gives coherence to my thoughts. I see painting as a very contemplative practice, and it enables me to give prolonged consideration to things and people that are on my mind. – Natalia Zdorovtsova
Not to sound too gooey but probably my mum ! She’s an artist and so of course growing up knowing that making art can be a job was pretty cool. I think she inspired me also by just being excited about art and showing me all the things she loves about it. It’s great because now we can both sort of help and inspire each other which is kind of lovely – Molly Russon
I found school challenging and often felt lost in many of my subjects especially English. I found Art made sense to me. I followed this almost instinctual desire to create, and this lead me to my current path of teaching art and working as a practicing artist. – Kate Kelly
Q: How do you feel about having the opportunity to exhibit?
Young or 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 consider. This question aims to evoke the artist’s personal journey into the artworld-sphere.
It’s really great that we’ve finally had the opportunity to exhibit our work! It feels like a nice way to see what all the hard work on our degree has culminated in, but not just final pieces. It’ll be great to be able to see what our hard work has pushed us on to be able to do. – Molly Russon
I am so grateful to have had this opportunity! Gallerie V is the first place where I’ve exhibited my art, and it has been a joy to contribute to two consecutive exhibitions and get to know some other artists in the area. My art is very personal to me, and to share it with others in this way has been a blessing. – Natalia Zdorovtsova
I feel very lucky and grateful for this opportunity as it’s my first time having my work displayed in an exhibition! – Lauren Stirges
Q: What is your favourite thing about being an artist?
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.
Using art as a medium to communicate different subject matters, and also just having fun with it!
Being able to tell a story and evoke a reaction from the viewer, whether good or bad.
Being able to turn my thoughts, ideas and what I am passionate about into artwork! For example, I enjoy tackling topics that are important to me such as the LGBTQ+ community and mental health. Sometimes, topics like these aren’t displayed in ways which are digestible or eye-catching and it can make it easier for an audience to talk about it or share these resources. Or when I work on book covers, I really love making my own spin on a narrative and playing around with characters and storyline.
The relaxation that it brings and the opportunity to think – it is very therapeutic
The pleasure of creating new artwork.
The act of creating a drawing or a painting to me is the the process of problem solving. You as the artist are constantly working out when to make marks, when to stop and considering how your own aesthetic taste within your painting or drawing will impact or convey your chosen message. I find the continuous endlessness of creating, one of my favourite things about creating work, as you can never learn enough or create enough, you can always experiment further and push the boundaries of your own practice.
I enjoy seeing myself improve as I engage with different painting techniques; I’ve never received any artistic training, and I wouldn’t say that I possess any natural talent, so my progress is entirely self-sustained. It feels good to look at a painting and recognise the years of practice that preceded its completion. I also adore painting for my friends and family.
I like how you can really do anything. I have so many different interests that art and illustration let’s me explore in my own way, without having to be an exclusive ‘expert’ or choose one thing. I especially love illustration for this because you’ll be asked to work on so many different projects where you’ll be able to learn about different things.
Q: Do you feel Covid-19 has impacted your artistic journey?
Since the school of art’s Graduate Exhibition was cancelled due to Covid-19, I wanted to ask all of the artists about how, and if, Covid-19 affected their creative process.
I think the pandemic gave me a lot of time to reflect on the artwork I want to create, not what other people think I should create. I am at a point in my artistic process now where the work I create is very different from my work from university, mainly because now I am finally making these creative decisions for myself with work that I am proud to share. – Lauren Stirges
Luckily a lot of freelance illustration work is done remotely even prior to the pandemic. However, in person exhibitions and award ceremonies which allow you to network and make connections are unavailable so it is slightly harder finding work. However, social media is so important these days in helping build these connections. – Lizzie Knott
I think the pandemic has given me a lot more time to focus on my art. In the summer of 2020, after I finished my undergraduate degree, I started taking painting a lot more seriously. I saw isolation as a very monastic experience (likely because I was tucked away in St Andrews, a very small seaside town in Scotland), which was very meditative and emotionally revelatory. This gave me a lot to work with. – Natalia Zdorovtsova
The pandemic has been a drain on my mental health and having been working throughout it all at my non-art job, it has been very hard to find the time to create and feel motivated to do so, especially when combined with graduating/ finishing university during it all. – Lucy Vivaudou
I feel the pandemic has affected my artistic process and ability to create. Firstly because my work is inspired by my interactions with people and the lockdown prevented that face to face contact which feeds my work. On top of this galleries and exhibitions were closed, therefore preventing me to show and meet other artists. – Kate Kelly
Q: What is the most important thing that you have learnt over the course of the last year (or years) whilst you were creating your submitted artwork?
Over the course of the pandemic, everyone has experienced a paradigm shift in one way or another. Although it has been incredibly difficult to continue pre-pandemic routines, we have learnt so much from our experiences. Artistically, it has been a strange time. But overall, I believe artists are supporting each other now more than ever.
Not everything needs to be perfect. It’s all about the progress and having fun with your art. – Lauren Stirges
I’ve learnt that basically, I don’t have to be anywhere yet. I think going straight from university to being a freelancer can make you feel like you should come out like a fully formed package. I worried myself a lot at the beginning with not being ‘concrete’ in my style or not knowing what I was doing already. I’ve changed how I work even over the last 3 months, so I am just reminding myself all the time that me and my work are constantly moving and changing, so I don’t need to feel like I’ve been doing illustration for 25 years when I’ve only been doing it for 1 ! – Molly Russon
To relax when creating work and try not to limit myself and force a style on myself. When I did this and tried to fit into the ‘illustrator’ box, I was creating work that I haven’t been happy with. Now I illustrate what I like and use colours I enjoy and feel as though my own visual language is coming together more nicely. – Lizzie Knott
My painting, ‘Allegory for a Hopeful Future’, tells a story of friendship. It depicts me alongside one of my closest friends, Alejandro, and celebrates the seven years that we’ve known each other. The most important thing I’ve learned in that time is the difference between niceness and kindness. Few ‘nice’ people are actually kind, and not all kind people are superficially nice. Kindness comes with unconditionality and sacrifice; true friends are ones who bear your burdens with you and see beauty in your eccentricities. – Natalia Zdorovtsova
To not take things too seriously. – Lucy Vivaudou
That for me a good work of art takes time and should not be rushed: patience is key. There are times when I think my artwork is going nowhere, but after a few more work sessions the vision starts to come together! – Tara Panesar
Learning new techniques when creating my illustrations especially digital. – Edmumd Rogers
To apply for opportunities even if you feel it could be a waste of time and you won’t get it. – Kate Kelly
More Work from the Exhibition
More information on the artists
Follow @lucyvivaudou on Instagram and visit her website: http://www.lucyvivaudou.com
Follow @tarapanesar on Instagram
Final words from me
As I said before in my previous post, 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.