Friday, 14 January 2011

Some words from last year's winners of the Chelsea Student Awards


Having co-won the Transition Gallery prize with my fellow graduate Lewis Dalton Gilbert was a truly overwhelming experience. Given the nature of the prize, being that anyone from the year group can be chosen and no application is required, I had never entertained the thought that I may be selected (and focussed my attentions on my application to the Oval House award!). I felt so honored to be selected from my graduating year for this award as, like all the prizes, they are not based on marking systems, grades or learning outcomes, the winners are chosen based on their actual artwork. This was a much needed confidence boost, and the start of an eye-opening experience of the professional art world. The exhibition at Transition Gallery really helped bridge the gap between studying at university and entering the working world as an artist, the momentum from the degree show was still in full force and it has been ever since. Working with the gallery was a great learning curve; put in a professional environment and being given free reign over a show is daunting but but very liberating. The prize has set me on a strong path of amazing contacts, experiences and opportunities. I have found in interview and application processes since, that the winning of the Transition Gallery prize has been an invaluable asset and a strong edge over other candidates. I believe the Chelsea Student Awards are an invaluable set of opportunities for students, and promote confidence and provide a stepping stone to students who are about to graduate. I would like to thank Harry and Kiki for enabling these positive experiences, and Lauren and Karina for taking them over to a new year. I, along with many others, wait with anticipation and excitement for next years winners!


Winning The Oval House Theatre Prize has been a bit of a lifesaver for my practice; to be honest I can not really imagine myself continuing to make work at such a momentum without the encouragement and support that the individuals at the theatre have given me. It is an interesting yet rewarding challenge to have to visualize an exhibition that is altogether reflective of my practice, works towards the aims of the theatre and utilizes a space and environment that functions very differently from that of your conventional gallery or the studios at Chelsea College.

The Oval House Theatre specialises in performing arts and fine art that showcases the best of minority, independent and overseas talent; their creative youth and refugee programs and workshops are renowned. Their dedicated involvement with local communities means that anyone who is taken under their wing will have the opportunity to create something that may potentially impact on the world outside. I believe that this is the perfect prize for any graduate artist who wants to make work that is performance-oriented, participatory or simply believes in the agency of art as social mediator or political apparatus. Furthermore, The Oval House are incredibly professional and dedicated in their setup as artist advisors, gallerists and theatre managers- as a result my exhibition has been pushed back to the beginning of March 2011 to accommodate planning for participatory workshops with youth groups, promote the show and give me adequate time to generate new ideas and works. I am looking forward to seeing how the show develops over the next few months and hope that I can give back to The Oval House as much as they have given me in terms of experience with managing my own contacts, negotiating the space and organising and curating my first solo show. This is an invaluable opportunity for any graduating student from Chelsea who wants to continue to make work in a dynamic environment and I sincerely want to thank the founders and the current organisers of Chelsea Student Awards for having both the fortitude and vision to provide these awards