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Close up shot of assorted papers

UAL alumna enhances her skillset

Published date
23 Jan 2019
Megan St Clair Morgan

Emma Louise Hollaway, an alumna of MA Drawing at Wimbledon, UAL – also a recent student on our bookbinding course, aimed to compliment her practice by enhancing her skills by adding to her knowledge of binding. Working within fine art, specifically drawing, sketchbooks are a large part of Emma’s practice. She keeps offcuts of drawings to construct new sketchbooks for use at drawing classes, which she notes “takes away the fear of blank white pages” of a brand new sketchbook.  The hand-bound sketchbook then becomes a highly personal work in its own right.

Emma quit her admin job to go to art school – graduating in October 2018 she was awarded a Mercers’ Art Prize, allowing her to continue in developing her practice and afford a studio. We talk about life after graduation, her experience at UAL and how the Bookbinding short course will help her develop her work in new directions….

You’re an alumna of Wimbledon, UAL – how was your experience?

Wimbledon College was an amazing place to study fine art, I studied MA Drawing (MA Fine Art Drawing, Camberwell).  I was nervous about starting because I’d not done a Foundation course, only short courses ­– but I shouldn’t have worried at all.

The course made me think about how drawing can intersect all other disciplines such as writing, welding and even walking. It definitely challenged what I thought drawing could be and pushed me to really interrogate my practice, what I do and why.  All of our workshops were open to students from different courses, so it was a very supportive atmosphere.

Tell us what encouraged your career in drawing?

I think sometimes when you do something naturally or instinctively you don’t notice it, but after a few years of rushing out of work to get to drawing classes, it was clear that I should see what happened if I pursued drawing instead of admin.  Everyone on the MA Drawing course felt really passionately about the medium, so I felt like I’d found my people.

What’s next for you?

Well, I’ve been in my new studio for almost a month now and it’s definitely an adjustment from college. I don’t miss the deadlines and the intensity of a full-time MA, but I do miss the structure and my amazing colleagues. We have an exhibition planned at Lumen gallery in July 2019 which I’m really looking forward to and there are lots of competitions and open calls to enter.

So, what made you choose Bookbinding?

I did a half day induction to bookbinding at college and decided I wanted to learn more. I tried to learn from books, but got into a bit of a muddle. I found a few one-day bookbinding courses but the LCC course was longer and covered lots of different types of binding. We had the run of the studio, and amazing resources to use and keep. Rahel, our teacher, was so clear and patient, and really interested in why we wanted to learn bookbinding. I felt really encouraged and it was fantastic to get to talk through some of our ideas with her.

With your new skills from the course, what have you been up to?

I feel very confident with binding now and I’m currently binding my degree show installation which was actually inspired by a chapter in a book. So after deconstructing it, I’m reconstructing it again. I’m hoping to do the same with some of my other works. It feels empowering to have another medium to express myself in.

It was! I’m a bit of a hoarder and I keep a lot of offcuts, discarded drawings and scrap bits of paper, just in case I might need them.  Before I started at Wimbledon College, I needed a sketchbook for life drawing but a brand-new sketchbook with blank, clean pages can be quite intimidating.  So, I decided to make one out of the bits of paper I had lying around.  It was a bit of a botch job – just with some string and a hole punch, but I liked how personal the sketchbook was to me.

During the short course, Rahel encouraged us to bring in our own projects.  This version is much better than my first attempt!  Properly pressed and laid out and we decided to use coptic binding that means the sketchbook will open flat on each page. I’ll make another GIF once it’s filled with drawings.

What’s your approach to learning and research?

A lot of my work is relating to how drawing coincides with learning so the connection with books is very strong. I’m an obsessive-compulsive note taker, so my notebooks are really important to the development of my practice. I do feel that now I can make them myself, it makes me feel more self-sufficient and makes the notebooks and sketchbooks much more personal.

Your top piece of advice for another an aspiring artist?

The biggest resource you have as an artist is time, so channel as much as you can into it. If it’s possible, see what happens if you can dedicate all your time to it, even for a short amount of time. You never know what might happen or what you might learn about yourself.

Find out more about the Bookbinding Course

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