2014 Recipient of an a-n Re:View Bursary. Blogging about the process as it unfolds along with other practice related events.


Post 10

Christian Mooney  – 2 July

Not to repeat myself too much, although at this stage it seemed clear that some of the given  advice was overlapping from the 5 mentors but of course with individual nuances. So I want to just touch again on some things I think might help other artists on a_n to read or some more specifics from Christian’s own point of view which came up during our conversation.

We spoke about ; the importance of the website with some suggestions, specifically which images he thought would work well as jpegs, he said Vivid would be a great jpeg and he seemed to like Tessalate as a painting. When editing the images he asked which I would save from a burning house – I quite like this phrase now – and referring to the best ones as ‘burning house paintings/works’! After this he got me to pick 2 – I chose Scatter and Dust as my current strongest, for various reasons.

Tessellate. 2014. Oil paint on pigmented gesso panel. 60 x 42 cm


We spoke about a new phrase he has noticed recently – Zombification  –  which refers to obsession with process, which he thought was very in vogue and relevant to part of my way of working with a surface.

We also spoke about the use of twitter (which I’m not that great at); SPACE Studio ; getting people to my studio (which I’m improving at) ; to question what and who is your target & who is your audience? ; Audrey Reynolds (Modern & Ancient artist) ; the fact that curators would want to see something like the ‘Fragments’ in the studio – to keep something back and exciting for them on their visit.

He also highlighted, in a business-like way the importance of doing a 1-5 year plan; writers who I could connect with; to do an Excel spreadsheet of all people you have worked with and all the people you want to work with ; being more focused with who your work is shown within the context of other artists and to think of my ‘10 second sell’.

As I have mentioned recently my newly-pared down website is very nearly completed and will be live asap, so upon our meeting Christian did say that having been to the studio and with the memory of visiting the site the night before that it currently looked dull in comparison to the work in studio. This is something I am working upon with various small strategies to bridge the gap between the physical work and its digital impact.

Overall, I can add Christian’s helpful comments to a long long pile now to check against (as I have already done a lot in response to them in the meantime) and see what more I can proactively do.


Christian Mooney is Gallery Owner of Arcade

This month Arcade is participating at both Frieze Art Fair – Focus section Stand J9 and Sunday Art Fair.







Post 9

Gemma Lloyd – 27/June/14 – 2 hour

I was aware of PEER’s exhibition programme, initially through their on-line presence and have become increasingly interested in what they do since a few close contacts of mine have worked with them.

Before meeting Gemma from PEER at my studio I had been putting into place some of the practical advice given by previous mentors and also by this stage had been thinking even more reflectively and brutally critically about the work and my ongoing plans for works and projects.

It was fantastic to have such an in-depth conversation with Gemma as we were seemingly talking about the work on view in such detail which hadn’t necessarily come up in previous conversations. I unusually launched straight into my bang up to date ideas which were exactly that – pure description and a few photos or diagrams. I felt it really important that Gemma knew I was working on these as well as seeing the newly finished panel paintings which I had already shown to previous bursary mentors; it was a great opportunity to speak my newer ideas aloud and explain whilst making links to the paintings as well as getting immediate feedback about the ideas.

I think Gemma is extremely supportive in many ways and completely understands artists’ practices and the important stresses but incredibly individual nature of them. This is, I guess, quite a general comment you may expect of someone who is either a gallery manager or curator, however it somehow seemed more genuine ; extended beyond expectations and seemed finely tuned into the artists’/my aims for the work. She keyed into various potentials; explaining perhaps what she found most interesting as a viewer.

We also spoke in summary about; surface, the human scale of my works, pairings/curation of the work and what relationships she could see (visual and conceptual)  John Soanes Museum, other relevant artists’ work for a variety of reasons, archeological finds, Wysing Arts Centre, UCL Rock museum, artists‘ publications, blogs,

Remnants of Them Install shot at Aldeburgh LOOKOUT.Sept 2014. Gesso and Wood. 115 x 35-60 x 90 cm. Sarah West

Gemma had looked extensively at my now (I think) completely obsolete website (COMING SOON) and said she found it really informative and useful to see so many years’ work on the site – a comment which is practically in complete contrast to most mentors’ advice so far, which was intriguing. She thought also that perhaps the term ‘archive’ somehow shelves older work too much which is actually still relevant in some strand or another.

During our conversation about the work itself we talked thoroughly about issues of display which is increasingly pertinent to my current practice (over the past couple of years); more to be talked about soon.

Gemma also thought that the human scale of my works was very important and something which is completely intrinsic to the form and content of the overall practice.

Gemma made some really poignant observations both in general and about individual works, which at the time was good to hear and also in reflection very useful. She was also interested by the drawings as an active tool and commented how they were themselves exquisite. In relation to these drawings we continued to discuss and question rather open-endedly the need/purpose or necessity to expose your source and if so to what explicit extent….

Furthermore, in the weeks since our meeting, Gemma has subsequently given her advice directly with the obligatory artist documents; which was great and I think has really cleaned  up both the C.V & Statement. As with the CV, the more exhibitions, publications etc. you have  sometimes simply add to the growing list, whereas it is so helpful at certain points to take stock and look objectively at what the overall document looks like and to refine the information.


Gemma Lloyd is Gallery Manager and Curator at PEER


Post 8

Teresa Grimes – 6/June/2014

On starting the session I gave Teresa an extensive introduction to the overall work, my processes and the individual works displayed for her.

Editing came up during conversation whilst Teresa was talking about purity of artist’s  work; meaning giving a clearer focus to the viewer about what the work is about.

We spoke about collage, painting on panels ie not canvas etc, quality of surface, solo shows, accompanying publications, Contemporary Art Society, regional galleries; and she said she thought I was a colourist.

Teresa also said that with the competition out there against a number of disciplines and mediums, painters have to show a strong style; that the subject matter did not necessarily matter but that people want an aesthetic experience.

She was clear about the work which she was most attracted to and ones she was not so interested in. Similarly to Francesca Gavin, Dust was one of her favoured individual paintings whilst she was also interested in Drift which hints towards abstraction with the gap for or negative of the figure.

However, she did say, and I am always aware of this, that just because it is an opinion of a mentor/talking head or someone else you don’t have to obliged. She said; only do it if it feels natural.

Drift. 2014. Oil paint and graphite on pigmented gesso board. 42 x 30 cm. Sarah West

When viewing a work in development Teresa held up some of the Fragments against the wall and in different viewing positions which was quite interesting, as I have also been thinking about displaying them in this way.

When turning to the professional development part of the bursary about half way through Teresa’s visit we started with a question she posed via email. Before the session Teresa had asked me to think about my aims for the next year and 5 years; we spoke these through on the day, as she likes to know the individual artist’s aspirations – a way to enable her to tailor the session.

She questioned, through the studio activities, if I had thought to do something else, removed from normal to free up; in the session I answered no and have subsequently remembered that last year I did start up etching again as I realised the translation of the works that I was producing then could work well in the dense black medium and I wanted to experiment further with the techniques which I had used during my degree. I did this at the Working Men’s College in Camden and got my first few prints into Bite Artists making prints, Mall Galleries, London. However, overall I feel I do know my process and within this I still allow for a lot of openness in the work especially in relation to the new developments I am pursuing in relation to displaying the work.

She said, looking at my C.V, it was good that I had shown so much, including abroad. She picked some examples and asked me about how I had got the exhibitions or opportunities. This lead us to talk about artists’ networks and the importance of keeping links with peers and people you meet when exhibiting.

Teresa commented that I was obviously very dedicated and that the a_n Bursary was a great time to shift the practice and its outlook slightly and to really keep questioning ‘is it the absolute best?’ of the work. To learn from looking at it in this way and surveying it -being critical of the whole thing.

Rounding up the session, Teresa prompted to keep networks up, keep applying for opportunities, working hard and continuing to show as much as possible.


Teresa Grimes – Director of Tintype Gallery, London


Post 7

Hilary Crisp – 22/May/2014

On arriving, Hilary had really usefully pre-planned and researched my on-line presence and website, making notes with suggestions and tips.

When talking and discussing the work I found that having already discussed the work literally the day before with another mentor had warmed me up and in the time between I, as we all do, reflected on how I could improve my articulation of the work and overarching ideas. Therefore, after giving Hilary a brief intro into the work picking out  pieces we started discussing individual works leading onto her overall impressions, in detail.

Hilary had thought carefully what the bursary was about inclusive of my aims which I had spoken to her before the session. Consequently, we discussed how the session would be of most use with her explicitly expressing the desire to be as honest as possible – this is exactly what I want and need; so I was extremely enthused by her delivery.

Whilst looking at the studio set up of works Hilary came across an indirect pairing; Vivid potentially hanging coupled with a newly prepped A1 board – which had been gessoed with 4 colours, layered, then sanded back to produce a mottled look. This prompted us to talk about presence through absence, which is something I aim for and is implicit within my editing of images, translation with paint and the constructed gesso surfaces themselves. Hilary suggested this pairing to give a breadth to a hang, which I definitely agree with. I think this could have a strong impact, especially due to the shift in scale between the smaller A3 work and the larger A1. Individually, she really liked these paintings and if together she said she couldn’t fault them and that this would be a possible curatorial decision she would work with in her gallery.

Vivid. Oil paint, spray paint, oil bar and oil pastle on pigmented gesso panel 42 x 30 cm Sarah West


As part of my practice I make drawings directly from the source material I collate. These act essentially as tools or annotations of ideas and images which I apply a strong filtering system to before considering to use in any for potential paintings. My approach is gentle and intuitive at this drawing stage and even though I am selective in the images I choose to spend time with there are still 100’s of them in a batch which could span 5-6 months. Hilary wanted to go through the latest ones which I had recently scanned for the archive. She commented on how I knew my process and seemed quite enamoured by them and understood how they act as tools whilst also questioning if and how they could be of further use; which I have also questioned at certain times myself.

Through Hilary’s openness in discussing the works I learnt explicitly what she was and wasn’t interested in within the paintings. Overall, she was drawn to the less literal parts or works.

From the archive she thought Recline and blow 2011, was an important painting for the lineage of the work. She thought the paintings were sculptural in their imagery.

We then spoke quite extensively about my website which is imminently under-reconstruction so a perfect opportunity to get more tailored advice; she helped clarify a few aspects to make a stronger impact and overall confirmed my plans.

We also spoke about; openings, exhibitions, social-networking sites, how some people think twitter almost makes websites obsolete in some industries, other artists’ practices, collectors, curators, affiliations, Art Fairs.

I will take a lot away from our conversation, mainly due to the explicit and open nature of the dialogue and am now making plans to put some of the practical elements in place over the coming months.


Hilary Crisp – director of Hilary Crisp Gallery, London.


Post 6

Francesca Gavin – 21/May/2014

Francesca understood the work and the motivation behind it straight away – making interesting links and picking out associations. In addition, she commented how I am almost drawing with paint, which I completely recognise.

I had asked her to look for a few minutes only at my website before the meet up so she could point out any disparities between the work communicated through web presence and the actual works.

We spoke about the strengths within the work of which she was especially drawn to my base gesso effects including overlapping and marbling which I have been developing.

She liked Parallel Harlequin / Scatter 2013 (pictured in Post 1) which I made and exhibited for Sluice__ www.sluice.info/2013.html in Oct 2013.

We spoke about ideas surrounding display including shelves, stands and/or the conceptualisation of the ‘plinth’. She asked about relationships to some images and also the use of materials and colours I select.

She commented that I was dealing with structures within the paintings. And that the mix of painting styles/methods was compelling. But she was most drawn to areas which had more looseness to them. She said because when you are technically able and can represent we discussed how I was and had to continue about being mindful of that.

We talked about trends and fashions within contemporary art which lead her into saying that now is a moment in abstraction in painting and what she was seeing in these works is really interesting especially when we see snippets or implication of figure or body but are not quite sure what it’s doing.

Francesca was most interested in Scatter (2013), Tessellate (2014), Drift (2014) and Dust (2014) – of which the latter she said would be something you would even see at NADA www.newartdealers.org – which I have to admit I had not come across before.

She made some suggestions about what she thought would make the work even stronger.

We spoke about my plans for the next few months, the importance of continuing with experimentation and with the new ideas which I have started working upon and the works’ scale/size.

Francesca was very clear about the importance of solo exhibitions as one of the best ways to enable the work to develop whilst considering even more rigorously your audience.

We also spoke about the social side in promoting your work; Competitions. Associated artists work. Importance of editing. Rejection. Confidence within the work. Exhibition venues and spaces.

She gave me some specific advice about my website which I am already in the process of making anew before the autumn.

Overall, it was a great experience to talk with Francesca very openly and it also felt very honestly discussing the work whilst surveying potentials she had noted and which will make me think practically about raising the profile of the work. It has had a knock-on effect in ramping up my motivation to get the things we discussed into motion.

Dust. 2014. Oil paint, spray paint, fixative and carbon paper on pigmented gesso panel 42 x 30 cm Sarah West