The Studio: Victoria Cantons, BA Painting
Victoria Cantons is a multidisciplinary artist and one of our talented third year BA Painting students who will be exhibiting her work at our Undergraduate Summer Show this year.
We spoke to Victoria about her experience of the BA Painting course, her current artistic practice and her plans for her Summer Show work.
Can you describe your practice for us?
Primarily I paint, though I also take photographs and I’m now making video and sound works. The work is born out of text which are really just musings and thoughts on life. They become things I think about as I draw and create the works, so they’re kind of like the inspiration, the feeder for the ideas.
My practice explores questions of how do we relate to the world and how do we relate to ourselves? How do we relate to each other in a group? Who am I? Who are you? Who are we? I’m also very interested in materials and in processes, so I do get caught up in those as well. My work is very conceptual and perhaps too overly-intellectual at times. An image is never just an image, it’s wrapped in symbolism – the colour, the form, the light, and the shapes.
How do you think your practice has developed or changed over the course of the BA Painting?
It’s become a lot sharper and clearer. When I started the course, I was experimenting enormously. I was trying to find a way to speak, and by exploring language and expression over the three years that I’ve been here that voice has really clarified itself in terms of themes and topics.
The way that I explore questions, themes and topics is constantly evolving and is in a state of flux all the time. I might paint, I might draw, I might take a photograph or I might try and make a sound piece or a video piece or a performance, but the actual ideas behind the work and the concepts, those have clarified over time.
My work has also become very figurative over the course of the BA. There was a lot of pure abstraction and I was wrapped in process and materials when I arrived, and now process and materials is very much to serve the work rather than what the work is about.
What have you enjoyed most about studying at Wimbledon?
The questions, discussions, debate and being challenged. I love being asked ‘what?’ and ‘why?’ on a daily basis. Also being shown new things and being told about new things. My art history knowledge has expanded so enormously over the three years that I’ve been here, as well as my theoretical knowledge and critical knowledge. That’s one thing I will miss a lot when I leave here.
What has been the most challenging part of the course?
It’s challenging to walk into a group critique thinking that your work is really well thought out and executed, and the tutor tells you that it’s not working. When the meaning behind your work is completely misinterpreted you suddenly look at your work and you think it’s no good. You can absolutely have the rug pulled out from underneath your feet and picking yourself back up and starting again is difficult. You’re thinking ‘what do I do? How do I do this?’
You’ve got to find new ways to express yourself and find new language and that is a challenge that’s wonderful. I’ve said in conversations with others in the past that it can be like being blindfolded, being taken into your house which you think you know, and yet someone else has also moved all the furniture. So you have to re-learn all over again, you have to find out where the table is so you don’t hit your leg or where the door frames are. It’s that process which is wonderfully exciting and yet painfully challenging all in one go.
What are you planning to show at the Summer Show?
I’ll be showing a mixture of works, I hope. I want to show the full breadth of what I’m doing in terms of not just painting but also the other works outside of painting. With five weeks to go, I really don’t know what I’ll be showing yet. I have works that exist that I know I really want to show, but I also have these additional five weeks to create new work and I have some works planned which may or may not be valid.
What are you planning on doing after graduating?
I would really like to do an MA. I didn’t get the place that I hoped for this time around, so I’m going to continue working, do some short courses and residency applications and work on the MA applications again next Christmas.
I just showed my work in a group exhibition at The Crypt Gallery and I have another show opening at the St Pancras Hospital exhibition space. I was part of a group show there a while ago that I applied to. The theme was LGBT issue and there was about 40 artists exhibiting. The gallery space management asked if I would consider being part of a smaller show called ‘Landscapes of the Mind and Earth’ with only three artists in the space, so I submitted a portfolio and they liked it. There will be 14 of my paintings in the show, from the past ten years. The private view is Friday 5 May and it will be there for two months.
Learn more about studying BA Painting at Wimbledon College of Arts.
We hope you can join us at our Undergraduate and MFA Summer Show this year! Click here to find out more.