Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Two of the 2009 Award Winners' Stories.


Winning the Chelsea prize of a solo show at Transition Gallery was a scary but amazing experience. I was getting increasingly worried about what to do after I graduated and having the show to work towards enabled me to keep going, making my degree show the beginning of something rather than just the end of college! It was exciting to see how ideas kept coming and developing, and having an opportunity like this, forced them to manifest themselves. It meant that I started to look forward to what I wanted to do, but also look over what I had been doing for the last 3 years and define what was important for my practice. This necessity, led me to create some of the most satisfying pieces I have made in the last years and has given me a huge confidence boost.

Working with a gallery was nerve-wracking and exciting, leaving me to my own devices I felt a huge amount of responsibility. I had to work to a deadline, and trust my own instincts. I never realised how much I would miss having Chelsea around(!), fellow students, tutors and resources, suddenly cutting a piece of wood was so much more difficult than heading down to the workshop! A steep but very necessary learning curve. Having to rely more on my own judgment was hard, I wanted to please everyone, but create a piece that was completely mine. I think this newfound responsibility also helped sharpen my experiences.

Having this exhibition to bridge the gap between college and….(who knows!) has been very useful, I have been privileged to be able to continue to grow, experiment and work. The prize has lead on to three subsequent shows and I have also written two articles. By being thrown into the deep end I have gained much more trust in myself and been able to hone and strengthen all my ideas and skills learnt at Chelsea without having to compromise on personal choices or an experimental outlook.

Instillation shot of Paul Kindersley's Show at Transition Gallery, Sept 2009


The ACME Studio Prize was such an incredible and surprising opportunity that when I now think back, it would seem strange to not have at the end of the degree. It made the year feel complete and far more worthwhile; it created a massive buzz. Besides being one of the winning students of the prize, I felt that the range, and particularity of the prizes on offer, gave the year a special amount of added enthusiasm and healthy competitiveness in their efforts for their degree shows. 

Because of it’s place as an external operation, it was incredibly important to the students who saw this as something achievable within the ‘real’ world of the arts, then from within the institution. I found this gave me a great amount of confidence in my self that I had been seriously lacking; firstly to be nominated was a really good feeling. To continue the prizes would see an extension of this effort in the show. A growth in popularity, especially after this first year, would see an increase in the recognition and importance of its’ profile. The competition would become even stronger and adventurous in scale and imagination.

None of this is as possible without the prize itself; it is amazing and so invaluable to a graduating artist, who is looking not only for the space to work but the freedom and encouragement to make their work with confidence.

Of course the main importance in all these prizes is actually what interesting and exciting things comes out of them, they have a massive ripple effect upon the lives of the receivers that is sure to continue to keep evolving.

Still from "A mouth to suck your sap" by Sam Austen

2010 Award Organisers

Now in their final year, Chelsea Student Award founders Harry Major and Kiki Claxton will continue to organise the body of awards for 2010. However we are delighted to also announce that current second year Fine Art Student Lauren Houlton will be joining them in the organisation of the awards, and will take over the administration of the awards completely once Major and Claxton graduate in June 2010.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Chelsea Student Award founders interviewed by Sketchbook

PCAN founders Harry Major and Kiki Claxton were interviewed in early December 2009 by Sketchbook Magazine about a project they have been running at Chelsea School of Art  as part of their final year on the Chelsea BA Fine Art Course. The project involved setting up and running a series of non-monetary awards for graduating students. Find out more and read the full interview here.