local terrain

“Working on an MA through these unusual times has been a difficult but unique experience and I’m thankful that I had a creative outlet to express my feelings and occupy my time. I think everyone is now a little bit more appreciative of creative careers and recognise just how vital the arts are to humanity.”

– Lucie Nardiello

This summer, I kept in contact with my ex-MA classmates. Having chosen to study the 1 year course, my classmates who had taken the part-time 2 year course are graduating this autumn. These works are the compilation of 2 years of study, and I want to showcase the talent I was working alongside.

“I have felt very isolated from my fellow students through the last year and feel I have missed out on all the interaction that would have benefited all of us, so it is great to be doing this for you, well done for making me think.”

– Irene Gardiner

This wonderful group of artists have influenced my person, as well as my art. From abstract to realism, a common theme explored in this group of artists work is space. By space, i mean the physical space around us, not necessarily space outside of earth’s atmosphere. Some artists focus on more literally, some explore it as more of a feeling. But, what I find so interesting is how the concept of space has changed dramatically for all of us the past year and a half.

Conversations with my ex-classmates

Q: What is your artwork about?

To introduce this wonderful group of artists I have come to know to you all, I thought it would be lovely to hear from them what they think their art is about.

My paintings explore my connection with familiar landscapes. The subject of my work is my home terrain of West Wales: the landscape, the coast, the ecology. I am inspired by local colour, plant life, and weather. Sketching out on location is an important part of my practice. In the studio, I allow space for exploration of materials, for chance developments and abstraction, allowing the painting to be pulled in its own direction. The work develops according to its own trajectory, while staying rooted in my own experience and in my connection with the Welsh landscape. – Saoirse Morgan

Saoirse Morgan out in the local landscape

An investigation into paint as medium, including colour, brushstrokes and texture, using my Welsh landscape surroundings as base for each artwork I produce. – Lucie Nardiello

My current work is about the beautiful pebbles that we find washed up on our beaches. Rock pools hold all manner of beautiful things. I am fascinated by how nature manages to balance all the colours of the rocks, pebbles and seaweed. – Tracey Hughes

My paintings are reflections of the life I live on the land, they are bricolage collections of items brought together from my surroundings. They evolve slowly around me, as I am exploring woodcut processes, colour, composition, and abstraction in paint. I have always lived as sustainably as possible, and always created my own home and worked with my habitats, using bricolage and collage in new and unusual ways. Each piece is a result of the last one. My take on the world around me has been affected by the way I been obliged to live as a mother of four.

Some things we take for granted that I don’t:

  • I have always carried my water often from a spring.
  • I have never had mains electric.
  • I have always had a wood burner.
  • I have always lived far from town.

Irene Gardiner

Irene Gardiner with her work

This current body of work explores a personal journey into consciousness and the unconscious mind, it relates to the living verses the non-living, life and death and the space in-between. In my research I investigate and question the very nature of our perceived reality. – Rob White

Q: Do you feel the Covid-19 Pandemic has affected your process, artwork, or inspiration as an artist?

Regardless of how severely, we have all been affected by the covid-19 pandemic. For artists and creatives, it has been difficult too, of course. But — it has been a challenging in ways in which do not affect other sectors of society. I wanted to see how my ex-classmates tackled Lockdown during their Masters degrees.

Rob White Autumn Exhibition series

The Covid-19 pandemic has not necessarily had a huge impact in terms of the works created, we can all dwell upon life changes and instances which effect any work created at any given point. In some ways the works might have been enhanced in a particular way due to the pandemic. I feel that the lack of social interaction with fellow students on campus was an opportunity missed and their feedback and input would have been most valuable through the course and would have helped shaped the work as a whole. I think each of us would have benefited from this but it in the end, it is what it is. – Rob White

I think we all suffered during the pandemic when we were obliged to stay home. We missed out on the benefits of spending time with our studio-mates and other students. We had one term together where we began getting to know each other, and I really missed the chats and cups of tea once we were all locked down. The isolation in the first lockdown was very hard going, even for an introvert like me. – Saoirse Morgan

Lucie Nardiello and her work

During lockdown, when we were unable to escape into the landscape, I found my inspirations adapted and I became more interested in painting as a process than subject matter. – Lucie Nardiello

Covid has been a time of feeling and very deep emotions for a lot of people. I’ve had to step back and slow down, and observe life a little bit more, and it makes me want to paint. – Irene Gardiner

During the first lockdown it gave me time to stop and think and work solely on my paintings. It also made me realise just how much I need art. It has made me more determined to make a life for myself as a full time artist. Fulfilment is just as important as how much you earn. – Tracey Hughes

Q: What’s the most important thing to you that have you learnt during the past year, art-related or not?

Whether you are an artist or not, reading this, I think we can all find inspiration and appreciation in creative practice. This mutual understanding had become exemplified with the example of the pandemic.

Our friends and our family form who we are, they are what is most important and without relationships nothing else matters. Health (Mental and Physical) Food, Air, Warmth and Art sit comfortably with this too and are of utmost importance, as is freedom. – Rob White

The last year has helped me refine the way I work with colour, wood cut prints, and composition, and how I am building on previously unexplored emotional responses, that I now see in my work. – Irene Gardiner

To never give up. To keep pushing for my dreams. And that I am a stronger person than I thought I was. – Tracey Hughes

That everyone in the world is part of one, large community and it is so important for us to all work together and support each other. – Lucie Nardillo

Q: How do you feel about having the opportunity to exhibit in the school of art twice this year?

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.

It is a fantastic opportunity, the School of Art consistently produces wonderful exhibitions filled with a wide range of artworks by many talented students. It has been an honour to exhibit alongside my fellow MA students and I will even get to do it all again in a few months. – Lucie Nardiello

After all the Covid uncertainty, It was great be able to have the experience of showing my work in the main gallery at the School of Art, thanks to our wonderful technician Phil.
It was a great shame the public were not allowed in, I missed all the chatting and getting actual feedback from people. I feel everyone tried their hardest, but unfortunately, art is a two way thing and painting needs to be seen for its visceral, textural content that is lost in a photograph, and artists need feedback. – Irene Gardiner

It is a wonderful opportunity, although it has been somewhat stressful. I have enjoyed seeing my fellow exhibitors progress from the first exhibition until now. – Tracey Hughes

We were very lucky to get our work on the walls for both exhibitions, I’m grateful to the staff at the School of Art, who knew how important it was for us to have that experience of showing our work in a physical space, and they made it happen despite the Covid restrictions. It wasn’t quite how I imagined it, going into the MA before the pandemic struck, but at least we got to show our work. – Saoirse Morgan

More Work from the Exhibition


Artists’ Instagrams

  • Saoirse Morgan – @saoirse_hrm
  • Rob White – @thearthole
  • Lucy Nardiello – @lfnardiello
  • Tracey Hughes – @traceyjhughes70
  • Irene Gardiner – @gardiner_irene

Final words from me

It has been quite nostalgic reading through all of my classmates’ answers. It feels like it has been quite a long time since we were all together. Whether it was online or in class — like I mentioned before, I was lucky enough to spend 6 months of MA in person — and I feel so privileged to have met this wonderful group of people, and artists.

Thank you so much for reading.


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