Artist Simon Handy studied BA Fine Art Painting at Camberwell College of Art. He won a Mead Scholarship (now called the Mead Final Project Award) in 2017 for his robotic sculpture series 'Wanderers'.
We caught up with Simon to find out how winning the Mead Award helped him with his practice...
How did winning the Mead Scholarship help you?
Winning money to fund my project was great for all the reasons that you would expect, but it also helped me in ways that I hadn’t anticipated.
The interview process was surprisingly helpful. It has made me a lot more confident with applications, writing an extensive project plan and presenting it to the judges was a great experience - now presentations are a lot less intimidating.
It has helped me a lot with jobs post-graduation. I got a lot of fabrication work pretty easily, I think largely because I could code, solder, had proof of commitment to long projects, had budgeting experience, and because it sounds a lot more impressive than it actually is when you say you can build large autonomous robots. The budgeting was particularly useful as it helped me to get a project management job.
Finally, although it was flexible there was a certain rigidity to the scholarship – I had to commit to something I had planned for an entire year. At first I found this very daunting but it turned out to be very useful; I developed my practice down a specialist route and it taught me to be more thorough when I delve into a new topic. By spending that much time surrounding myself with robotics, electronics and theory I was able to make much more interesting work that had a much deeper insight than I would otherwise have had.
Would you advise others to apply for a Mead Award?
Definitely. Even if you don’t win it is a great chance to practice application writing and to think long-term about the subject that you’re interested in – and if you do it is a wicked opportunity to really commit to your ideas, take your work seriously, and invest a lot of money in the art you make.
My advice for when you’re writing your application is that you should not box yourself in too much, and you should make sure that your project is something you’re not already an expert in so you can use it as a way to learn loads of useful transferable skills.
What have you been up to since completing your Mead Award project?
Straight after the Mead project I was selected to take part in the Orbit UK graduates show at OXO Tower where I showed two of my large robotic telegraph poles. Since then I have mostly been getting used to working life. I have a studio and try to get in there when I can, I stopped making robots but I made a machine for a show at Lewisham Art House in December but that was the last techie thing I made.
Since then I have found a new interest in conservation and agriculture, I have re-skilled by doing loads of short courses and now I work mostly as a tree surgeon and my art practice has taken quite a big turn as a result of these new interests. I am now working mainly as part of a collaborative duo with a friend from uni and we are currently putting together an exhibition that we hope to show soon.