As part of Origins Creatives, UAL Awarding Body will be talking to students from across the UK to learn more about their experiences of working in lockdown and how they have managed to stay motivated and creative during these unprecedented times. UAL Awarding Body caught up with Georgia Broad, an Art and Design student at Broadstairs College.
Tell us about how the pandemic impacted your education this year. Have you managed to stay creative whilst staying at home?
I felt that the situation was almost somewhat overwhelming as we had not long started our FMP and we had only learnt of the decision to close the college the day before and so it was quite a surprise and worrying to learn that our time had been cut so short. Personally, I have always revelled in the idea of working from home as I felt more safe, concentrated and comfortable. However, for a while I found it immensely hard to accept as it was a complete breach of all normality and stability and working out a new routine whilst balancing work and home life proved difficult.
As a result of lockdown my project was definitely my lifeline, it was reassuring to have something to keep myself busy each day and even under the worst circumstances this taught me how to be adaptable, how to overcome and solve problems and how to work with what I had.
During this time, I purchased a sewing machine and crochet materials and have begun making clothing and accessories for my business which I have sold and donated a percentage of the profits to several charities. This specifically has really helped me stay motivated and creative because whilst focusing on my education I have been able to work on my own personal projects and earn money whilst doing so.
How do you feel about your work being showcased online instead of at a physical exhibition? Do you think that the future of exhibitions will be digital?
Much like many of my peers this is the first online exhibition I have ever taken part in and although I am used to sharing my work on an online platform, I was initially apprehensive. The process involved in an online exhibition differs entirely to that of a physical exhibition and surprisingly I missed the tedious things involved such as measuring and nailing hooks into the walls and planning or deciding the layout of everyone’s work. Overall, I feel that the exhibition was very successful and through the use of social media and teaming up with another organisation our work was accessible and reachable to more people. Especially during this time where the world is so chaotic and detached, it felt very unified.
In terms of exhibitions being solely digital in the future, I would have to oppose this idea as I feel that as both time and technology progress, we stray away from the physical realm of life even more and in a world that is so obsessed with technology we need to reattach ourselves to reality. As well as this, you have to be very careful about the kind of work you are putting onto the internet, there’s an element of pressure in ensuring the work is appropriate and how people will react to this, I personally felt that in a physical exhibition you have the opportunity and more freedom to be controversial.
Is the work in your exhibition FMP related, developmental work or work that you created during lockdown?
The work showcased in the exhibition was work that I created for my FMP whilst in lockdown. I continued throughout with my chosen theme of ‘Tragedy and Disaster’ and within this looked at the topic of ‘Celebrity Culture’. My intention being to unravel the toxic nature of the celebrity lifestyle and delve into the ways in which these individuals are portrayed in the media and the contributions, causes and effects due to this.
In a sense my work was also developmental because throughout the project I experimented with a broad range of themes and materials such as textiles, embroidery, printing, collage, pencil and painting, as normally I am more inclined to focus on textiles and fabric or embroidered based pieces.
I made this decision after learning that there would be significant changes on the basis of marking and grades and so decided to explore and experiment to encourage myself to improve as an artist in preparation for future endeavours.
Tell us more about the work in your exhibition – what does it mean to you, how did you create it and what inspired you?
Throughout my project I suffered a long period of indecisiveness regarding the endless possibilities of what my final work could or would look like. After months of continuously planning and experimenting I decided that I would create a series of 9 oil paintings, 7 of those being portraits of celebrities and the remaining 2 being dividers in-between to create a moment of balance and so that the viewer can focus on each portrait. Depicted in my portraits are Robert Downey Jr, Britney Spears, Kim Kardashian, Michael Jackson, Tupac, Jimmy Savile and Amy Winehouse. Each portrait presents a different scenario associated with celebrity lifestyle, whether that be mugshots, paparazzi images or even events, I wanted to act from the perspective of the media and feed into the negativity, obsessiveness and toxic nature of this culture.
Each portrait is a close-up view of the individual and so incredibly intrusive and revealing. Intentionally I almost hunted for depictions of celebrities at both their best and worst because I truly wanted a chaotic array of scenarios and emotions combined into one to really capture the rush and the adrenaline of fame in a somewhat haunting way. By using oil paints this allowed me to capture even the most minute details by mixing the paints with solvent to the point where it was almost comparable to watercolours and slowly building the layers up. The effect the oils gave the portraits was very soft and delicate, almost floaty in a sense which is very different from the harsh and horrible reality of their lives. The background on each canvas follows an almost muted or pastel themed colour which was inspired by Andy Warhol who himself was obsessed with glitz and glam and Hollywood, through this I wanted to almost glamorize the controversy and the negativity much like how the media does also.
Due to lockdown and not owning any professional equipment I had to take the photos of my work on my kitchen floor and there was something quite odd and ridiculous about this. It was almost as if I was inviting these theoretical people into my home, all of which I share a prominently different lifestyle to and there was something interesting here about breaking the boundaries between fame and regular life, fact and fiction.
What advice would you give to your peers who may feel discouraged and lack inspiration as a result of the pandemic/lockdown?
For the entire world this is a collective struggle and traumatic experience, this is a global pandemic and, in some way or another, many lives have both changed and suffered immensely. Especially in a time like this it is inevitable to lack inspiration, motivation and to feel emotionally exhausted. The fear of disappointment is a heavy burden to carry but I cannot stress how important it is to put your health first, be patient with yourself and go at a steady pace.
Advice I would give to those struggling during this time would be to incorporate both your home life and your creative studies, there are so many aspects of our everyday lives that we do not realise are creative or could become creative. Almost daily I have been on walks with my family and this is a great opportunity to take pictures, through this time I have really enjoyed taking my polaroid camera out with me. Baking is another activity that not only allows us to gorge on food for hours on end but to decorate and have fun with making. Decorating your room or writing or painting a piece inspired by a film or series you watched, playing with makeup or styling outfits are all things that can keep you busy and motivated.
I have personally found it really useful to set myself goals or make plans for myself, nothing too elaborate or high in expectations to cause stress but just small things here and there that I can accomplish and be proud of myself for doing so.
What are your plans for the future?
I personally have made the decision to take a gap year and not progress onto university just yet. Within my year out of education I would really like to work full time and earn some money to cover for my driving lessons, as well as to put some aside in preparation for university. Furthermore, I plan to continue working on my own projects and build up a portfolio as I intend to study Textiles in London next September. In the future I would love to have my own business or be working for another business or company based around textiles or clothing, I would also really love the opportunity to travel with my work.
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