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Somewhat spontaneously I went to the graduation ceremony at school yesterday. I am very glad that I went. Not only was it a pleasure to celebrate the graduates’ achievements, it was a pleasure to attend a ceremony that was so much more personal and meaningful than the rather ‘production-line’ experience I received after my masters. Måns Wrange, the head of school, made a good opening speech about the importance of creative freedom in an increasingly frightened and frightening European context – referring to some results in the recent EU elections. This was followed by his thanks to the faculty and administrative staff, including a teacher retiring after more than 30 years at the school. What touched me most though was the palpable honesty of the handshake, or often the hug, that accompanied his presentation of a flower to each graduate. Perhaps it was particularly significant as Måns is stepping down as rector and it was the last time he will have that responsibility. How different it was from the quick, literally passing, handshake I received from someone I had never met before as I walked across the stage at UCL awards ceremony 16 years ago. The small scale and insularity of the Swedish (and Stockholm’s) art scene is often criticised (from within), however I find something very reassuring and comforting about the sense of familiarity and integrity that is so necessary in a profession that relies on what at least might be termed ‘professional friendships’ –and not just between peers, but also between different generations, disciplines and interests.

I have never heard, and cannot imagine ever hearing, the expression ‘churning out’ when referring graduate students here. Being at art school here is more akin to being welcomed into the profession, and as such is taken seriously and is seen as the beginning of a long term relationship. Such an attitude is perhaps possible in a country where students are not thought of as customers, and with a far, far, less pronounced ‘star system’ (where there will be more than likely just one graduate who is expected, if not destined, to become the next brilliant ‘star’ artist while the others do their best to resist being sucked into some artistic black hole).

Amid the excitement of the awards ceremony and the two graduate shows our show, accurately and somewhat poignantly, called The Rest of Us opened. I am quite satisfied with my piece, and it has been very interesting and rewarding to speak about it with other people. Resolving the presentation of the piece of cast glass – knowing that inserting it into a floor almost anywhere in the school building would be nigh on impossible – lead me to make something that I would not otherwise have done, and I am pleased and intrigued by the result. The tilted pale plywood sheet makes appropriate architectural references and enables the curious visitor to investigate the underside – a perspective that I had not fully considered before discussing the work with Donatella Bernardi (one of the senior lecturers at the school). The piece changes as the light throughout the day changes – on a clear day light comes first through the glass ceiling of the atrium, later on sunlight streams in from the floor to ceiling window directly behind the piece. Having worked so much with the profile of Sad Teddy’s shadow I immediately see it beneath the highly reflective surface of the glass, it is however considerably less obvious to the visitor. I like that their first experience is more aesthetic, less knowing, less directed. Beside the work is a simple leaflet (a single A4 sheet folded in half) with a text I have written. The text is on the inside facing page, as such it is something that one must seek out. Staging the encounter with something that might hint at explanation in this way is a pleasing solution for me. The presence of the leaflet indicates that there is information if one wants it, but it does not demand that it be read – as a text on the wall might suggest. Literally standing there and offering the leaflet to visitors is also a pleasant and natural way to start a conversation …