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Staff Spotlight: Kelly Chorpening

Kelly Chorpening is the Course Leader for BA (Hons) Drawing at Camberwell College of Arts, UAL a role she’s had since 2006. As well as this, she is also an artist and a writer.

What is your day-to-day role at Camberwell?
I run the BA (Hons) Drawing Course within the Fine Art Programme. There are roughly 140 students over the 3 years. There are ten key staff teaching on the course and over time I’ve been able to recruit a team that encompasses a range of interests and approaches that correspond with the discipline’s breadth within art today. Coursework often reflects their interests: drawing in relation to painting, sculpture, installation, blended use of analogue and digital technologies, and its use across other disciplines including architecture, dance and medicine.

Tried and Found Wanting; pencil and pastel on paper mounted to steel with oak batten, 2016. Photograph: Thomas Kitchin

What did you do before you came to UAL?
I am an artist and for a long time supported myself working in the arts. Before moving to the UK I worked in New York City, for galleries and for established artists as a studio manager. These experiences provided insight into the profession, though that is a benign description of the things I witnessed! A lot of what we call ‘the art world’ is unregulated and corrupt. One gallery I worked for closed down after it was discovered they were selling forgeries. The case is still unsettled, I think because so many museum collections would be implicated by the outcome. it’s possibly not so surprising then when I moved to London, I sought work within organisations and charities that had a more ethical commitment to work. I worked in the very early years of the Camberwell Arts Festival and also worked for the Wellcome Trust managing their art and science grants scheme.

Making Use of Space Graphite and pastel on paper mounted to rolled steel, 2017. Exhibition view: A History of Drawing, Camberwell Space, 2018.

What is your favourite thing about UAL/ Camberwell?
Hands down it’s the people. It is so exciting to see students come together from all parts of the world and all walks of life to share in their love of the discipline and take inspiration from each other. Especially in our current political climate, this is so heartening, and what makes being in London at UAL/Camberwell so attractive.

Untitled display of maquettes; installation view, Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh, 2017.

Tell us something people might not know about Camberwell …
Through conversations with researchers at Tate and the British Library, I have learned that Camberwell has long been known as a college with a strong democratic spirit. Following WWII, servicemen specifically wanted to study at the College because they knew staff and students had a strong belief in social mobility and wanted to make the world a better place. This is something I think many of us at Camberwell today identify with very much.

Find out more about Kelly’s work.