Mary Vettise - Artist

Mary Vetisse - BA Drawing

Mary Vettise graduated from Camberwell's BA Drawing course in 2011 and now works as an artist and programme assistant at Flat Time House in Peckham.

What did you study and when did you graduate?

I did my foundation at Camberwell in 2006 and then BA Drawing, graduating in 2011.

Overall how was your time at Camberwell?

I felt really at home and well supported. I think Camberwell strikes the right balance between having good pastoral care and encouraging students to operate independently in developing their practice. It was at times frustrating, but I had a lot of fun too.

What have you been up to since you graduated?

I was part of a year long self-organised study and discussion group of recent graduates that met at Flat Time House, the former Peckham home and studio of artist John Latham. 

I've done two artist residencies, both in the USA, and I was winner of the student prize at the Oriel Davies Open. I still live in Camberwell and have a studio locally. 

At the moment I split my time in the studio with working two days a week as programme assistant at Flat Time House. 

What are you working on at the moment?

I'm working on a body of interrelated video works, which will form the basis for my first solo show which is to place next year. It's to do with why Titanic 3D and L'année dernière à Marienbad cover the same ground cinematically, and how post-modernism has ruined my love life. 

How did your time at Camberwell inform your work?

I appreciated being on a conceptually rigorous course - having a research-based approach to developing ideas is important to me. This, coupled with the fact my course was non-media specific with tutors from different backgrounds, has made me more creative in developing my own style and approach to video. Although moving image is my primary medium I also make performance, text and installation, and I don't think of formal process as something to be narrowed down. 

The interactions and dynamics between the different courses, with their own distinct identities, also impacted on how I position myself as an artist. The conversations you have with that peer group is the most valuable thing about time at art school. And now, as an artist, I think it is important to continue the process of dialogue, both through existing networks, and through developing new ones.

What tips would you give a student starting out at Camberwell?

Socialise with your peer group as much as possible. The better you know one another, the more you will have those two hour long conversations about work, which are so important. 

See your studio as your second home - even if you don't have a studio based practice, it should be a space for reflection, conversation, installation, organisation and after-hours drinking. 

Follow the local art scene outside of college - many opportunities have arisen for me through those peripheral networks and as an art student it's sort of your job to be the contemporary vanguard. 

And keep on the right side of the technicians, they hold all the real power at art school!

Why did you choose Camberwell for your course?

I wanted to be in London, but I also wanted to study and live in the same area, which is only really achievable at Camberwell. The intimacy and defined identity of my course appealed to me. I think it's important to have specification at BA level to push against. 

The fact Camberwell is structured along the traditional art school model - small and independent, teaching a variety of disciplines across art, with a rich legacy in craft - appealed to me, as well as the friendly close-knit community. 

Also I like the fact Camberwell tends to attract a diverse group of creative individuals rather than just those who want to be career artists.

What was the first job you took after graduation?

I worked as a gallery invigilator for three months as a stop gap. I got a lot of reading done, but it's not the sort of thing you would want to do indefinitely.

Best advice you were given while at Camberwell?

To critique the advice you get given - feedback is important as something to response individually to, to form ideas against, rather than to accept as received wisdom.