Why I choose to study Sculpture - BA (Hons)
I completed my art foundation in London and at the end of it, I wanted to experience a completely new environment for my degree. I had heard good things about the sculpture course at Edinburgh and when I visited I was drawn in by the amount of space and workshop time students were offered. This was pretty key in my decision to study at ECA.
My time at ECA
Having done an art foundation I went straight into second year when I joined ECA in 2017. In second year we went through a couple of projects to introduce us to some of the workshops at ECA. After this, we were given more creative freedom to begin figuring out our own practices.
My practice is mainly influenced by my cultural identity and experience. As a woman of mixed Singaporean and British heritage, my work explores how the relationship between these two cultures is reflected in furniture design, objects and architecture. Through this my practice has come to focus largely on the 18th-century trend of Chinoiserie; the European interpretation and imitation of East Asian designs and artistic traditions. I attempt to reclaim and re-imagine this style of making in a more conscientious and culturally appropriate way, exploring and reinterpreting cross-cultural design in relation to my own mixed heritage.
I create a lot of my work through processes of laser cutting and manual cutting with a jigsaw. Whilst at ECA I was able to spend lots of time using laser cutters, experimenting with materials and figuring out which processes and techniques suited my work. I think since graduating I have really appreciated the amount I was able to use these machines, once you’re out of university it becomes a lot harder to learn these skills/gain workshop experience. I think it is really important for students to develop their ideas and their making skills at the same time, and the accessibility of workshops at ECA definitely aided this process for me.
My experiences since graduating
I graduated in the year COVID-19 hit, so it was pretty nerve-wracking to finish my degree without the usual degree show. I was lucky that I had a bit of an online presence with my work. I used Instagram as a way of sharing the work that I continued making at home, and through this I was able to connect and share via various digital and later physical platforms. I’ve applied over the last year to residencies, prizes and exhibitions, which has helped me write more clearly and openly about my work. Most recently I was an artist in residence with Cob Gallery and HOME by Ronan McKenzie, this was a fully-funded residency where I was able to invest my time in developing my practice and produce a body of work that would later be shown at Cob Gallery in Camden. I’ve also embarked on more collaborative projects, and I have been collaborating with a fellow ECA graduate Hugo Harris. In January this year, we had a duo show with Harlesden High Street Gallery and Underground Flower, through which we created a series of sculptures inspired by our individual research scholarships in Florence awarded through the RSA John Kinross Scholarship.
My advice to new and current students
Experiment as much as possible but also do what feels right for you and what interests you! I think the most important thing is to be genuinely interested in what you are making. Also particularly for sculpture students, use the workshops as much as possible.
For graduating students I would recommend applying to residencies, prizes, studio bursaries etc. There are opportunities and funding for young artists, it’s just a matter of knowing where to find them - I’ve always used Instagram as a tool to find these kinds of opportunities. It’s also important to note that you should pace yourself when applying to these kinds of things, application processes can be quite long and draining. Take your time; it’s really important not to get burnt out!