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Clyde Co. Blank Canvas Commission

Updated: Jun 6, 2018

The Blank Canvas Commission is a project that supports graduating art students - it is an opportunity for 3rd year degree students to put together their own proposal for a exhibition space in the Clyde Co offices in London. I think this is a great idea - its almost like a soft launch or a trial run and by applying for it I hope it will raise my confidence for making submissions after I have graduated and don't have the support of a tutor to proof read applications for me.

This particular competition appealed to me because it was one where I could really see my work in the space and did not make me feel like I was trying to force or adapt its intention into a particular brief or gallery situation that was not completely suitable. I realise that this will inevitably be the case in the future as not every opportunity will be a 100% perfect fit and if I only look for those opportunities that are, I will struggle to build my professional portfolio.

Putting together the actual proposal was quite challenging because it was the first time I have had to present myself and my work professionally as a proposed piece for an intended space. This is where having an artist biography and statement already written was really useful as it was a starting point for me to build on for the rest of the proposal.

One of the things I find so interesting about my work at the moment is its transitional and adaptable qualities and also one of the main reasons I felt it would be appropriate for this particular competition - the exhibition space is a corridor so as a transitional space it naturally lends itself to the themes of my work, and the route that I am currently exploring of using these transitional spaces as areas to display my work for the degree show. This "pre fabricated", adaptable and changeable quality about my work actually made it harder for me to know how present my idea without sounding non committal or indecisive about what I wanted to put forward. Because I am building on the idea of my work being responsive to its surrounding environment I didn't want to sound as though the work came in one particular format but also didn't want to come across as though my idea was not developed enough to present coherently. I had to walk a thin line between these two ideas in order to sound confident and knowledgeable about my work and desired outcome while also referencing the responsive/adaptable qualities that allow for a certain amount of development "in situ".

Making potential visualisations for the work was really interesting and actually took several attempts - initially I simply took an image of the hangings and stretched and repeated it to cover the whole wall. It wasn't until after I had looked more closely at the competition specifications (i.e. wall height) that I realised the visualisation had inaccuracies - the hangings were considerably shorter than the wall and I had put them at almost full height, and the way I would hang them they would not look like a solid piece across the wall (also very similar to their current installation) but the works would overlap and be at different heights and have a much more interesting profile than the initial visualisation I put together. I also started to consider the way I have begun to look at the fabric as a sculptural element in the studio and how that could also be incorporated into the piece. This again felt like I had to many "it could look like this or this" and left my intention sounding undecided again.

Writing the proposal was a great way of putting down on paper the professional hanging methods I am intending to use for the degree show - sourcing where I may get these things from and a good costing practice. All things that as a pie in the sky - anything is possible student it is very easy to overlook or get caught out by at the last minute.

After completing the proposal I also realised how much more confident and coherent my statement about my work had become after a little more consideration and reworking which highlights to me how it should be an organic and adaptable document that grows with your practice and should be revisited often.

When I sent the submission off I was confident and proud about the ideas I had put forward, my main concern was that aesthetically it was quite similar to their current piece which could potentially work against my proposal. On a separate note after trying to contact someone at the company to get a current application form for the competition and the company being unaware of who was involved, and their social media not being particularly current did put a big question mark on the project for me as to how well organised the project was.

Unfortunately my submission was unsuccessful - however I received a very encouraging and complimentary email which felt more considered than a standard "send to all" response, and in no way made me feel disheartened about putting my work forward for future opportunities.

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