Michael McManus

Michael McManus

Michael McManus

Future Map 2012 exhibitor
Wimbledon College of Arts, BA Fine Art: Painting alumnus

UAL catches up with a BA Fine Art graduate as he reflects on his experience of taking part in Future Map and what he’s up to now.

Submitting work to be part of an exhibition is a key skill for emerging artists – how did you go about making sure you stood out for Future Map and in fact, at any group exhibition?

Thinking of the work as a site specific piece and contemplating how it would interact with other pieces. Future Map integrates works together, unlike degree shows where each artist has an isolated space. For a lot of people exhibiting its the first time their work is displayed in that way, so, I would definitely advise taking that into consideration. 

How do you think being part of Future Map helped you establish yourself in the early stages of your career?

As an exhibition that is recognised for showcasing highlights of degree shows and because of the successful UAL alumni that were selected for it, I think it is definitely something that stands out on a CV for any emerging artist in London. I have had studio visits that were prompted from exhibiting in Future Map and it is always something that I talk about in my career since University.

Do you have any tips for this year’s Future Map artists on preparing for the exhibition and making the most of it?

To self promote as much as possible and use the experience to gain an understanding of how to do this in a way that supports your practice, as it is a vital tool for any emerging artist. I would also document it and use installation shots alongside your own work for future reference.

How did UAL help you prepare for your career as an artist and is there anything else it could have done?

UAL's tutors were able to offer great advice technically and conceptually in the development of my work, above all else they gave you confidence in your ideas.

I remember, in particular, a talk my third year tutor gave on his experiences as an artist and he mentioned that for every successful application an artist has there are many other unsuccessful ones. In this respect there is no need to allow a disappointment to hinder your practice. I found that really inspiring and still take many of the discussions we had into consideration when making work today. 

What advice would you give to students wanting to start out in fine art?

To be open minded above all else and explore as many possibilities of making work. To be pro-active enough that every crit and tutorial can give you a significant reflection on your work. 

If you could go back in time what advice would you give yourself on the first day of your course?

To experiment as much as possible and not be to concerned with criticism.

To use as many facilities as possible and to visit exhibitions with peers from University. Developing a visual language for a painter is something that I think comes from engaging with many artists works. Its also a great way to get to know people on your course. 

What’s been the greatest achievement of your career so far?

I was awarded the Lifeboat Residency following University and have just exhibited four paintings in the UAL Showroom space in Holborn to mark its final exhibition. The exhibition is from January and ending in April. 

What’s next for you/what projects are you currently working on?

I'm working on a series of monochrome paintings on aluminium, taken from dry plate photographs. I'm planning on completing another residency and wanted this body of work to apply.

I have also begun building a promotional website for painters, showing videos of them creating work in their studios and talking about their working processes. Its been really insightful to see first hand various painters practices.

I would also like a small solo show later in the year and will apply for an MA for the first time next November.