Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Failing To Impress

I was recently interviewed for a Feeney Fellowship, following a proposal I made in response to a call for applicants. The Fellowship awards two bursaries a year of up to £3000 to Birmingham based arts practitioners to, as outlined on their website, ‘broaden their expertise and develop their careers…the proposal should allow exposure to new, outside influences…rather than simply giving the applicant time to develop a new body of work’. 
  My proposal was centred on an interest I’ve had for some time in developing some sculptural ceramics based on my interest in the urban environment, and in particular based on the recent lorry and vehicle paintings. The idea of the trucks as ‘vessels’ or containers seemed to naturally lend itself to this idea and, for the proposal at least, seemed like a good opportunity to potentially extend my practise and skills. I know plenty of ceramicists whose work I admire, and have very much been a part in fostering my interest in this art form, who were happy to support me in my endeavours with their knowledge and expertise, and, most importantly, their kilns (!). 

Anyway, this is all a bit circumspect as, following my interview, I was unsuccessful in the end, and did not receive a bursary. For the interview I had to give a brief presentation in support of my proposal. I decided it would be a different approach to develop and present a sketchbook of possible design ideas, and so during the time I have been signed off work I spent a few days working on this. I made nearly eighty studies over thirty pages, which I enjoyed a great deal: making initial drawings from my son’s toy trucks and then developing ideas about different surface treatments using paint and collage. As I said, it’s all a bit circumspect now, but I thought it might be nice to share some of these in this post. 
Road Mending Machine Teapot!
My good friend, Marian, who acted as a referee, was very disappointed I was turned down and wondered if her reference had not been, in her words, ‘sophisticated enough’. I am certain that this would not have been the case, but rather more likely to be the lack of sophistication in my ideas that would have been the problem. I think also that it may be that it looked, and probably correctly, like I would be producing a whole new body of work, rather than extending my existing practise. I will never know….Still, despite this I do think some of the designs have potential to be carried further, and maybe, without the pressure the Fellowship would have undoubtedly brought, I could attempt something in clay yet in the New Year. 

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