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Life At Chelsea: Robert Gray – MA Fine Art 


Written by
Natalie Anastasiou
Published date
26 October 2018

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

Robert tells us how his practice has developed during his time at Chelsea and what he’s currently working on:

“I came to Chelsea with a multi-disciplinary approach to my practice, making paintings, drawings and sculptures, as well as using the workshops to learn processes and techniques that might inform the quality of my practice. However, nearly two years down the line, I have learnt that my initial ad-hoc, self-sufficient way of making work is vital to how it is received and what my research is about. I have also leaned towards sculpture rather than continuing painting, as it has allowed me to play around with materials in a more extreme way.

Sculptural installation created from coloured yarn and black tape, with an egg in a vitrine suspended in the middle.

“My main inspiration for my work is centred on late 20 something living, and more specifically my own hap-hazard life! I am a big fan of mumblecore films such as ‘Frances Ha’, ‘Mistress America’, and ‘Happy Christmas’ and try to work this kind of narrative into my practice. I am influenced by my own domestic space, using a range of craft methods and materials in a slightly peculiar DIY way. Whilst my work overall has a subtle comedic style to it, I am also influenced by artists such as Mark Manders, whose sculptures, whilst idiosyncratic also prove to be extremely vulnerable and adept at portraying the human condition.

“My degree show work comprised of different sculptures that were installed in a way that activates a narrative between them.

“My biggest influence during my time at Chelsea has been the course mates I have met! Throughout my time the students have formed quite a close bond through our unique experience of juggling University and our other responsibilities, supporting each other along the way and providing encouragement with each other’s practice.

“Having access to the MAFA gallery to put on shows throughout the course has really helped me to understand how to curate and play around with a white space, this proved challenging and was a great learning tool for preparing for the final show.

A sculpture created from various materials, including tin foil and cotton wool, suspended on a round wooden table.

“I was selected to show in the summer exhibition at the Lubomirov Angus-Hughes gallery last year. This was a great opportunity to see my work shown alongside a number of other works in a professional manner and interesting to see how my art fits within the current landscape.

“My advice to any new students starting the course is to approach it with an open mind and not to be too stuck in your initial practice because it is likely that this will change, and for the better. Also, embrace the criticism as well as the questioning what your practice is about and why you make art. This will help you to see things more clearly.

“I am proud to be a Chelsea alumnus because of the freedom and encouragement that is given to experiment with my work.

“Chelsea in 3 words? Unexpected, grounding, immersive”

A transparent yellow vitrine containing a sculpture.

If you would like to see more of Robert’s work please visit his website or Instagram page.

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Find out more about MA Fine Art