With the 2017 Mentoring Programme final show up on the walls and the opening party tonight we thought we would get a blog article up sharing something of the show and the experience of a few of those involved.
Mentoring Final Show 2017
A cowboy on a rearing white stallion faces a block of vivid colour; nearby, a film of projected waves foam and crash next to a painting of a woman with a crimson fish emerging from her mouth. A vast sketchbook lies on a bench, inviting viewers to turn its mammoth pages. Behind is an installation of 20 portraits in ink, their gaze soft, yet direct. Here, there are delicately-handled landscapes, vibrant prints and drawings: the eclectic artworks that make up the final exhibition of the Newlyn School of Art 2017 Mentoring Programme, which opens this evening at the PZ Gallery.
Sharon Harvey came to the course having completed a degree in Fine Art. ‘Whilst a BA is amazing and gives you the tools to think creatively and critically, it didn’t teach any of the practical stuff that you need to become a commercial artist. I had heard about the mentoring programme at Newlyn School of Art, but wondered whether it might be a rather provincial course. What I didn’t realise until I visited was that actually Cornwall really is on the cutting edge of the contemporary art scene. I was blown away by the energy of the school and wanted to be part of it.’
The year-long Mentoring Course is for those about to begin careers as professional artists. It usually has 15 to 16 participants, some of whom will have degrees in Fine Art or have had their work exhibited. Some have not had a formal arts education, but all have talent and ambition for their work.
The course runs over six weekends, each about eight weeks apart, starting in January and ending in late November. Practical work is done at home between sessions and brought in to be discussed in individual tutorials and as a group critique, which provides valuable ongoing feedback for the students, and help in understanding the wider context of their work. Sharon continues ‘What you will learn are essential tools of the trade and really practical advice on how to get your work out into the world’.
Respected artist Jesse Leroy Smith heads up the programme, and pulls in different contemporary artists each weekend who give an insight into their own professional practice, as well as providing practical advice to students. This consistent guidance and encouragement throughout the year is aimed at building the development and confidence of each individual student.
‘I have been so impressed by the tutors from the get go,’ says Sharon. ‘They are incredibly generous with their time and advice. But we’ve all been challenged too, and that’s what you need as a visual artist. Many of us work in isolation for much of the time, so to have that opportunity to come together and share your concerns, successes and experiences has been fantastic. But the tutors don’t beat around the bush; they help you to learn how to decide which of your works are successful and challenge you to dig deep and take your work further.’
Sara Bor first heard about Newlyn School of Art from friends who had been on the Mentoring course. ‘For me personally, the course has really strengthened my practice,’ Sara continues. It has allowed me a period of freedom artistically – moving away from what I thought was commercial and given me the opportunity to explore and discover other avenues. I know this sense of freedom will feed into my work next year’. The group dynamic has also been valuable. ‘It’s been fascinating to see how the work of the group as a whole has developed and strengthened over the year. The difference between what we first produced and what we are now hanging in our final exhibition is tremendous. Our intention now is to keep the momentum up and do more group shows together across the UK.’
The illustrated RAW RICH exhibition catalogue can be viewed online at:
The deadline for applications to Newlyn School of Art’s 2018 Mentoring and Defining Practice courses is 5pm on 1 December 2017. More information on the Mentoring programme or Newlyn School of Art’s other courses can be found on our COURSES PAGE
Words by Kari Herbert