a blog charting my year long journey as one of the 2022-23 student residency co-hort at banks mill in derby.  banks mill is the business incubation space for the university of derby and the residency this year is for 4 students to explore, experiment and develop their respective practices, with support from the university.

the blog title is inspired by the foo fighters song of the same name.


the residency will soon be in the last month and as this approaches i want to reflect how the year has split into four quarters for me.

to begin, i reiterate this was a student residency within the creative incubation space of the university of derby known as banks mill. the period of time for me occurred as i was in the last few months of studying on the ma arts (fine art pathway) programme at the university.

august through october saw the degree show work being finished off, presented and then moved for public display. during this time the degree show was very much the focus and settling into the studio space at banks mill did take second place to the study. what i enjoyed was having a space where i could think and safely leave ideas scattered about.  the degree show took place at the artcore gallery in the center of derby. having the studio at banks mill (about a 10 minute walk) was a bit of a dream.

link to crosspoint ma degree show exhibition instagram account

into second quarter – progression.

when we signed up for the year long residency it came with some caveats including being present at university open days and the banks mill open studios. the open studios event took place at the end of november and features the entirety of the building occupants opening their studios for 2.5 days to members of the public and invited guests.

while preparing for the event i was also coping with the emotional roller coaster of graduation day and what came after that.

with a studio for a year i knew i was going to be ok for a place to practice. what i wasn’t so ok for was an income. my business model is based on the working with people and knew that any project work with an accompanying funding application would take sometime to set up. it was time to be real about my portfolio practice and see what work was available that i was suitable for.

november through january saw me being successful in being selected for a part time role at a nearby fe college and an 80 hour internship  (through the university careers service). i was also still communicating about the project in york by zoom and participating in some unsuccessful interviews; all from my studio space. it felt good to plan my week around the times i was in the studio. i started to get to know other studio holders (on the fourth floor) and the weekend of the open studios felt really good in terms of being in community at banks mill.

in contrast was the time between february and april. i had started the fe college role, the internship was in full swing, and the weather was wet and cold. keeping a regular pattern of going to the studio became a struggle.

the time i did have to spend on my practice was predominately occupied with work developing a research degree application. this had started as a seed a few months before the end of the ma and during the degree show it was planted and watered. at first it was slow to germinate and at times it did look like it might not shoot or take root.

with the internship completed, the extra time and impending end of residency really started to get me focused in the last three months of the residency. from facilitating a session in york i realised i had a working title for a collection of works. from the open studios research i saw a work potentially for exhibition and so it has continued, seeing sketches/works/ideas i can present. its going to be an experimental body of work.

another thing on my mind for the last few months has been what to do about staying a studio holder at banks mill. i’m in conversation about this and time will tell what i go onto do. one factor needing to be considered is when i might finalise and submit my research degree project proposal.

so after a difficult third quarter, the end of the year is looking better with good prospects of exhibiting a body of experimental work as a result of the residency. there’s still work to be done to fully realise this and i am confident i can complete it in time.

overall, my experience has been good and if i’m honest i don’t really want it to come to an end.  it will though because it was always going to, like rachel whiteread’s 1993 work house.

so for the next few weeks, in amongst all the other goings on in the practice, i’m getting ready for an exhibition !!!!


****** update ******

the exhibition was entitled the art of being with people, documentation of it can be found on the practice website



in accepting the studio as a graduate i was faced with how to fund myself while within the residency. i say fund myself as i’ve come to realise how strategic one needs to be when relying on self generated funding for projects – the lead times are so long.  therefore when an opportunity to apply for a part time support role at a nearby college was drawn to my attention i made dam sure my application hit all the required markers. i might well have talked about this is a previous post. i have now started in the role and finding a rhythm with that work and the time in the studio.


the student residency cohort consists of four of us. when we first sat down together, we learnt about the exhibition in the foyer at the end of the residency displaying work made during our time at banks mill. in the last couple of weeks, i’ve started thinking about this show.  i need to start thinking a bit more seriously about what i’m going to place in the space. we are about 6 months into the residency.


first things first-how do i respond to the space? the bulk of the work shown in the foyer is wall mounted and this is something that i don’t really set out to create. therefore i am thinking i need a framework for the space and work within this.



as the part time employment role settles down and i can relax a bit about money, i now can begin to further think about the practice development. today i’ve written to a professor in ireland in response to a tweet i saw a few weeks ago. not sure what might come of it and to be honest i like the whole ad hoc feel to it.


another block of writing i am thinking about a lot of the time is that connected to the phd application. i feel slightly overwhelmed by the formalisation of the thing. i need to look beyond this to compose something and accept it might not be accepted. the longer the process goes on the more formed the thinking becomes.


i take a moment to breath and relax.


currently on the wall of the studio i have this cardboard tube arrangement. today i see how this is the basis of something for the foyer show, alongside a yet to be thought about performance.


to some extent, having the part time role is providing a book ended focus for the days i can practice on. it’s forcing my hand to be organised about how i use my time and in turn this gives me a break from the college environment.


after several months of waiting for the role to start and the connected uncertainty to this, i am feeling optimistic and upbeat about what is yet to come.



out of the windows the shadows are becoming long as the sun sets at a reflective time of year for many reasons.

later today i’ll close the studio door after working in the studio for potentially the last time in 2o23. in later november i took part in the open studios event, where the whole of the banks mill studio complex is open to the public for an evening and two days.

through the event i engaged with visitors through an offer to play tic tac toe and recorded 171 engagements and 38 games. my favourite comments were;

“thanks, been random and very interesting”

“thank you. i haven’t played that for ages.”

me “would you like to play a game of noughts and crosses?”

visitor “no, i always loose”


since the open studios i’ve started making again and i’m enjoying the balance of making and laptop based assignment stuff i need to do currently.

quite soon after the open studios event i had the cold thing that was going around at the time. i stayed at home for the duration. once i felt better i have come into the studio as much as possible. something has clicked with me in terms of getting out of the house to work at my practice and i’m ok that the practice does feel in an early stage again. it does after all go with the territory of completing work and starting something new.

between you and me i’m dreading when the residency comes to an end and i think its this that is motivating me to get into the studio at every opportunity.


i look forward to the break now and coming back in january with a renewed outlook and new opportunity.


with the residency in place i turned my attention to the matter of income. i’m yet to listen to the podcast series artonomics. from the trailer description i have a handle on how being a contemporary artist involves more than visually expressing ideas, admin,  marketing stints, and looking for further projects. indeed it involves having an eye on income streams often outside of the contemporary artworld. long story short i have been successful in applications for a part time job and an 80 hour internship through the university of derby.

with theses in place i feel more secure and safe to work in the studio, to start to consider where to pick up the research, and how to pursue the feeling that the study journey needs to continue because i miss being on the ma so much.




i’ve been settling into a studio at banks mill since august. banks mill is the business incubation space of the university of derby and my studio is one of 4 spaces made available to students through competitive application, for a year to develop their practice.


current students are eligible to apply for the residency, at the time of application i was a masters student on the ma arts programme. this programme is the amalgamation of ma fine art and ma film and photography, it offers a pathway in either of those with all students being together for lectures and seminars. i opted to do the programme full time in a year, there’s also a part time option spread over two. in october 2022 we staged our degree show work at the artcore gallery in derby. we called the show crosspoint and it featured the work of six artists.


in the beginning of the student residency i was still actively engaged with completing the tasks of the third module and to be honest it wasn’t until mid october that i was able to feel fully engaged with the residency and the studio.  reflecting on that time, i see now how my concern was to ensure that i arrived at the deadlines having put (what i considered to be everything at the time) into what i was doing so to avoid the feeling of – oh i could have done that etc.


the final few months of the ma were intense and now beyond the closure of the exhibition i’ve been reflecting upon making within that intensity. to be fair it got intense the closer the deadline got. in the beginning of the third module, the boundaries of the thinking were broad, diverse and fluid. an early idea was explored and ultimately worked up to something i couldn’t take any further. this formed the departure point for what followed.


now into residency studio time, i have recognised how i am once again with the broadly bounded space exploring and takes on current affairs, thoughts and ideas from what’s happening around me, both physically and digitally.


reflecting about how i adjusted to having a lockable space, i can say it took me a while to trust the situation. what i mean is i have had a studio space in a complex before and that experience coloured how i viewed my space at banks mill. there was a day where i realised i was about to go home and return in the morning – i didn’t need to take the resources home with me to return the following day. learning to trust the space was the first big moment within the residency.



about the student residency winners https://www.banksmill.co.uk/latest-news/meet-our-student-residency-winners-2022


crosspoint ma degree show instagram