Clare Holdstock StudioBook 2017 a-n Bursary
Since returning to my hometown of Hull at the beginning of 2015 after completing a degree in painting at Camberwell College of Arts in London I have worked as a self-employed practitioner on various exhibitions and projects in Hull and the north of England. Working in Hull as an artist during the UK City of Culture year is extremely exciting and fulfilling but I am still keen to foster networks and connections further afield. As an artist, finding the money to pay for the travel to Manchester as well as the accommodation would have been tricky. I am consequently grateful to be receiving one of the five a-n bursaries for artists living outside of Manchester attending Mark Deveruex Projects’ StudioBook 2017. This is further to some a-n funding that my artist group Hack & Host, also based in Hull received earlier this year. The generosity and real impact of such a-n bursaries on the continued practice of artists is laudable. I was thrilled to be selected as one of the twelve artists participating in the two-week intensive professional development programme to foster necessary links beyond Hull. The fortnight of professional development will be followed by a group exhibition featuring StudioBook 2017 artists to be held in Manchester in November 2017. As an artist who has never exhibited in Manchester, this will be a fantastic opportunity to show my work to new audiences.
Since graduating from university in 2014 I have been involved in many projects as a self-employed artist. These have ranged from community-based projects, including workshops and engagement sessions; to temporary outdoor sculptures for festivals or public trails; to exhibiting gallery based work supported by grants and commissions. My involvement in each of these projects has brought about several broad learning curves. Professional development for an artist wishing to make a living in the real world simply wasn’t touched on enough during my time at university. The most useful instance of professional development advice that I received during my degree was given by the artist Doug Fishbone, who provided many insightful and humorous glimpses into the career of a professional practicing artist. Doug’s key piece of advice went something along the lines of ‘keep hustling, even when you believe that you have managed to hustle your way to success, you will learn that you must continue to hustle’. This is by no means a direct quote, but the advice appears on many levels to be the consensus among artists.
This was not the sole piece of advice given, but most other professional pieces of advice came in a short burst towards the end of the degree. One came from a recipient of the Artquest sponsored, University of the Arts London (UAL) ‘LIFE BOAT Residency’ which entailed the provision of a studio space for a year at Vanguard Court in Peckham. The speaker stressed a need to find sustaining and fulfilling art-based work alongside a personal practice, and to balance this with regular applications to opportunities and a healthy studio practice. This was brilliant advice, which I have always remembered and implemented as often as possible in the early stages of my career.
After reading about keynote speakers who have worked at spaces ranging from TATE Liverpool, to The Hepworth Wakefield, I am excitedly anticipating Mark Devereux Projects’ StudioBook 2017 programme. This is a great opportunity to reflect upon the projection of my work to audiences, as well as a chance to network, to meet peers and the professionals running contemporary art spaces in the UK. Three years after graduating from university I am at a point where I am eager to reflect on and to discuss my experiences as a professional practitioner. I am hopeful that the advice and experiences of all of the speakers, as well as the valuable networking opportunities that StudioBook will provide, will give me the confidence and the tools to take my professional practice to the next level.