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'Cornered Curve III' - from Robyn Benson's Degree Show, 2013 Image courtesy of Robyn Benson

Robyn Benson graduated from Painting - BA (Hons) in 2013. She returned with other alumni for a unique exhibition Drawing on Drawing featuring work by graduates, current staff and students alongside works from the University of Edinburgh collections.

Tell us about your time at Edinburgh College of Art

It was a very exciting time, the truly great friends I made and the sense of community at ECA was a big part of that. Between the Sculpture Court Christmas Party and end of year Revel there were always openings and events that seemed to bring everyone together. I studied First Year at ECA and I met a lot of people before we all dispersed off into our chosen departments, which in a way opened up the college for me. I spent a lot of time visiting friends in different departments and getting involved in as much as possible.

A very memorable period for me was the lead up to the Degree Show. The sense of momentum from everyone created a great atmosphere, if a little stressed at times. I think that is what I enjoyed most about Art College, the general feeling that everyone around you was busy doing/planning/making something.

Tell us about your creative practice

I make balanced, self-sufficient structures that rely on material tension and the equilibrium of acting/counteracting forces for stability. These works usually evolve from technical drawings and diagrams that focus on geometry and the relationships between shapes; exploring how one shape defines another and creating parameters within the drawings that are transposed into the physical constructions through the introduction of load and/or directional forces.

The transition between drawing and sculpture is a very natural process; I wouldn't ever separate one from the other. I usually make work in series and it often becomes about exhausting possibilities within a particular train of thought or idea. Mostly I’m just fascinated by the technical process of creating the circles and curves in the drawings and how that transfers into physical constructions.

What did you like about ECA?

Whilst I have always maintained drawing as a key part of my practice, my work moved very quickly away from painting and towards more sculptural endeavours without question. The space to explore that within the course and support from the tutors was invaluable. Equally, the studios and the building itself were a great place to be making work in, there was always somewhere to try work out and always someone around to come and take a look.

Tell us about your Experiences since leaving ECA

When I left ECA I was awarded a 12 month Studio Bursary at St Margarets House in Edinburgh. It was just the right amount of support that I needed at the time to figure out my next steps, which I am incredibly grateful for. Since then I have moved to a studio at Rhubaba Gallery and Studios, an artist run space in Edinburgh where there is a great community. I also work part time as an assistant in an artist’s studio. Another highlight since graduating is the month I spent on a residency at Hospitalfields, Arbroath, as well as having work selected for various shows around Scotland and internationally. It’s been a very exciting few years so far.

Another personal big achievement last year was a solo show produced as part of a studio residency. I felt very positive about the work that I produced for that show, and looking back it was a definite and important stepping stone in my practice to date.

"It’s important to keep going and show people what you’re doing; there isn’t much point in keeping all to yourself and it will give you the confidence to see what is successful or unsuccessful about what you've made."

Robyn Benson

BA (Hons) Painting graduate

Alumni wisdom

Feed and nurture your curiosity, whatever that may be. Making work comes from so many different places, people and experiences and there is no finite way to go about it; it’s a lot easier to just go with it and see where you end up. It’s important to keep going and show people what you’re doing; there isn’t much point in keeping all to yourself and it will give you the confidence to see what is successful or unsuccessful about what you've made. Remember that not everything you make will be great, or even good, that just happens. Be decisive and clear with yourself about what you’re doing and why. Enjoy it. And look after your work properly - you’ll need it at some point.

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