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Life At Chelsea: Lawrence Blackman – MA Fine Art 


Written by
Gavin Freeborn
Published date
11 October 2018

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

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

“My ideas of what an artist can achieve through their practice has grown hugely since studying at Chelsea, from making collections of drawings and books, my work developed into a wall-based installation, challenging the perceived limitations of drawing.

“I have always had an interest in international communities, which has led me to organise a community collaboration project in Indonesia. I have been able to totally reassess what my practice is capable of and the context in which it exists. For the recent summer show I created a mural style drawing installation.

Artists studio

“I’m very interested in how art can be used as a tool, either to be reactive to a place, or as a way of engaging and developing communities. Making work that is accessible is important to me, to create a dialogue with the viewer. I like to use everyday objects like gum, waste materials or crayons, which helps to ground the work in the everyday and can enable a deep discussion about the world around us.

I’ve been inspired by artists who have transplantable practices, for example Dan Perjovschi and Aowen Jin, who work in communities to make unique and contextually specific pieces which enrich their environments, with an element of social engagement.

Group photo of children in Indonesia

“There is a vast range of different environments at Chelsea. Being around such a diverse range of artists in the studio helps to inform your practice and allows you to develop your own individual identity.

“The facilities at Chelsea are excellent. They provide you with the opportunity to make almost anything you can think of. I think this opportunity focuses your attention onto what you really want to make and shows how the process becomes important to the work itself.

“The gallery spaces you are able to show at Chelsea really allow you to push your practice as far as you can and think on a deeper scale. The variety of different style show spaces encourages you to focus hard on what kind of artist you want to be and how you want your work to operate.

“There is also a focus on curation and this experience is great preparation for creating shows after the course is over. My peer group were my biggest influence. Different ways of thinking and a high quality of practitioners pushed me in ways I had not expected.

“The main project I have been working on is the community collaboration project in November at BGBJ, translates to “The Seeds of Bantar Gebang”, which is near Jakarta, Indonesia. I will be returning there to work alongside the community who live in the largest waste material landfill in South East Asia, which I first visited in July 2017. I plan to share this experience with others when I return to the UK and hope the project will raise awareness between cultures and raise questions about how they interlink even across thousands of miles. I am currently fundraising for the Indonesia Community project.

“I have also been involved with a number of residencies, including the Bad Art Residency in Berlin, and several shows in London as part of my ongoing practice. During the year of my MA at Chelsea, I was able to take part in several projects including the Tate Exchange Digital Makers Collective residency and also the Concrete Dreams oral histories project at the Southbank Centre

“These were both great projects which exposed me to different ways of working, and discussions surrounding what art can be and it’s various meanings. All of these have been unique ways to engage in creative practices, which were challenging but enjoyable and gave me a great insight into how collaboration can work. I love to show my work, and these were all great experiences, each one taught me different things, but the importance of community and collaboration has been constant.

“What I like most about studying in London is the huge diversity of culture, all the museums and galleries, and a rich history, which is not always comfortable but deeply thought provoking. London really wears its heart on its sleeve, and challenges you every day with something new. There are huge positives and negatives to the way the city is set up, but it feels cutting edge.

“Following MA Fine Art at Chelsea I intend to develop a socially engaged and international practice, working with communities abroad as well as at home, through education and collaboration, as well as developing my own creative practice and being a self-sustaining artist.

“I’m proud to be a Chelsea alumnus as I’ve had the chance to work with so many gifted practitioners and become part of an inspiring community. I feel I have risen to the challenge and moved on from Chelsea having grown hugely as an artist, especially in confidence. It’s opened my mind to opportunities beyond what I thought was possible.

“My advice to new students would be to try to know yourself and stick to your creative beliefs, but also be open and try to absorb all the information that you can and most of all be ambitious!

“My Chelsea in three words? Challenging, engaging and diverse.”

See more of work on Lawrence’s website and Instagram.

Check out Lawrence’s Indonesia Community project Go Fund Me fundraising page.

Explore work by more students at

Find out more about MA Fine Art

Two young girls posing for a photo back to back in Indonesia