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CSM graduates undertake residency in Rio


Written by
Colin Buttimer
Published date
21 March 2016

Four recent CSM graduates are spending the month of March in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as part of the Despina residency programme at Largo das Artes.

Part of a new Central Saint Martins/Despina cross-disciplinary programme, the residency sees students working both together and independently on projects within the surrounding local community. Sarah Crew, Carlotta Novella, Beatrice Vermeir and Helena de Pulford were selected and commissioned through an open call last year.

These selected graduates have received College funding to develop their practices and expand their professional networks through projects embedded in Rio with local collaborators and organisations, with the support of residency staff and access to artists, curators and mentors.

The group have set out to re-imagine how the residency studio is inhabited. As a result they have abandoned individual work surfaces in favour of one structure that allows for cross-pollination. This ‘core structure’ is adaptable for different functions, contexts and ideas. They have named the project trânsito-rio’ (Portuguese for ‘transitory’), and are currently documenting their work via a blog of the same name.

Read more about the graduates involved below.

Carlotta Novella graduated from MA Architecture: Cities and Innovation, and is currently working with the art and architectural practice public works. Her fifth year project, Industrious Neighbourhoods, proposed alternative urban strategies and design interventions to facilitate home-based work for social housing tenants. In Rio she will be extending this project and working directly with homeworkers in the city.


Sarah Crew is a mixed media artist and writer, working across installation, film, sound and live performance. She graduated from MA Photography and now works in both London and Bristol, having exhibited in China and India. For the Despina residency, she will be exploring reclaimed land in Brazil, particularly investigating the failure of technology in both the virtual and physical world. She will be running a schools artist-lead workshop at the Museum of Modern Art, and a ‘Post Transit’ workshop at Largo Das Artes.

Beatrice Vermeir graduated in BA Fine Art. Her work is predominantly performative, and re-imagines alternative modes of social organisation, work and education. In Rio she is working on a research project that explores notions of performance in relation to the socio-political context of the city in the 70s. This research will be translated in a number of ways, including interactive performances and a mobile and adaptive vehicle.


Helena de Pulford is a visual artist, sculptor and writer who graduated in BA Fine Art. During the Despina residency, she will be looking at domestic rituals, gendered political activity and emerging feminist art practices in Brazil. Specific events will include a ‘Host’ performance workshop at Largo das Artes and ‘Emerging Feminisms’ – a series of research seminars with students from Parque Lage.

The residency will culminate in a group exhibition which will will take place on March 31. The graduates will also be taking part in an international seminar on April 1, alongside their peers from Parque Lage who have undertaken residences in both Colombia and Bahia. This will be hosted at The School of Visual Arts of Parque Lage, and they will be answering the question, “What are the contributions of artistic residencies in the training of artists and cultural professionals?”.

CSM teaching staff including Mel Dodd, Deborah Cook, Lucy Steeds, Shumi Bose, and John Seth will also be speaking at the conference.

Stay tuned to the CSM news section in the coming weeks for an interview with the students about their experiences in Rio.

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