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Life At Chelsea: Amy Robson – MA Fine Art

Written by Natalie Anastasiou
Published date 12 October 2018

Continuing our interview series with alumni, we talk to Amy Robson, MA Fine Art 2018 graduate, whose work was recently in the 2018 MA Summer Show.

Amy tells us how her practice has developed during her time at Chelsea and what she’s currently working on:

As an American artist who has lived in the UK for over twenty years, I use my dual outsider’s perspective to explore loss, disillusionment and the collective anxiety which is pervasive in both countries. Though America featured as an undercurrent in my earlier work, it has become a more overt influence since I’ve been at Chelsea. My work has evolved from being focused on process and technique to becoming focused on content. Subsequently, the work is grounded in the experience of not-knowing and precariousness.

A painting of a man and small girl by a pool with a city in the distance.
Image: P Town

Tooth dreams, or dreams where your teeth decay and fall out, are used as a jumping-off point for my most recent series of work which is a personal response to the issue of post-Trump/Brexit collective anxiety. I have produced a series of oil paintings and iPad animations for the degree show. The work investigates the abject via disjointed pictorial space, anthropomorphism and via short deliberately awkward frame-based animation.

Three paintings: first of a dog growling, the second of a sink and the third of blue tiles
Images: Degree Show ‘Tooth Dreams’ triptych

In addition to history, politics and psychology, my specific influences include Dana Schutz’s mashed-up oil paintings, Patti Smith’s book ‘M Train’, Wes Anderson’s wonky-but-sublime film ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’, and the music of the Beastie Boys and Talking Heads.

At Chelsea I have learned the most from my friends and colleagues on the MA Fine Art course, particularly via Babak Ghazi’s Socratic-style group tutorials. Though my studio space is at home, these interactions have informed my practice significantly by bringing the viewer experience from the background to the foreground. Practice analyses and group crits have been invaluable in raising the question ‘Why should anyone care about this work?’

A painting of a string ray with its mouth open
Image: Skate

The best thing about studying art in London is the international nature of the city and of the MA Fine Art course at Chelsea. Not only are the students from many different countries, but the speakers, seminars and residencies are global in their outlook. This outlook is particularly important set against the current backdrop of increasing socioeconomic and political polarisation – and increased nationalism. As artists in London from all over the world we are particularly well-positioned to engage with each other.

A still from an animation of half moldy lemons
Image: A still from ‘Teeth and Lemons’ animation

Following graduation, I am going to build on the degree show momentum to create several new series of works as I am working towards exhibitions in the UK and in America in 2019. Research-wise, poet Claudia Rankine’s work has made me rethink how I explore the issue of race (as a white artist), and I am planning to examine the issues raised during her ‘Whiteness and the Racial Imaginary’ residency at Chelsea. My research and practice will continue to explore precariousness and the possibility of embracing it as a way to move forward in an increasingly uncertain world.

What makes me proud to be a Chelsea student is the kindness and unflappability of the people who work here.

Advice for any new students starting the course is to question everything, experiment lots but focus when necessary. Leave your ego and competition at the door.

An image of the artists studio featuring a wall of reference images and small paintings.
Image: In the studio

If you would like to see more of Amy’s work please visit her website

Explore work by more students at ChelseaDegreeShow.com

Find out more about MA Fine Art