As part of Visual Arts Plymouth‘s 2017-2018 talent development programme, VAP has been matching early career artists, creative practitioners and arts professionals with mentors (more established artists and professionals in the region) through the Plymouth Platform scheme.
I have been told by some very wise people that you don’t fully realise what you have learnt from doing something until some time after it. Well, it’s been a year since I was part of Plymouth Platform and I’ve had some time to reflect on it. I was mentored by Sophie Mellor (Close and Remote) and one of the invaluable things I realised from being mentored is the importance and joy in hanging out and talking with someone who has been there and done it.
It is this time spent chatting in which conceptual and practical problems get thrashed out, ideas take root, and confidence gets boosted.
Sophie introduced me to a more playful approach to making work, which then gave me the confidence to use a new medium for my Plymouth Platform project. I felt fully supported and encouraged by her to take risks with my project, write funding bids, pay myself, and work with a team of people. I learnt the importance of good project management and how to make work with other people. All of this has seeped into the work I have made since Plymouth Platform and I find myself feeling clear in my practice about what I want and how I will make it happen.
Recently I have been thinking about how Plymouth Platform has been a defining point in the last four years since I graduated.
Through mentorship and funding the programme gave me the support to make a new idea happen and I made an ambitious moving image project. From that I realised how much I enjoy working with moving image and other people, so I have continued doing it.
Now I am moving to Glasgow to start an MLitt in Photography and Moving Image. I think being part of Plymouth Platform has made that happen.
Notes from mentoring session (abridged) – 6 February 2017
…So first PLAY! (ie trip to the beach to smash stones etc) and filling up your studio with notes and ideas…
thoughts on future working:
- get paid
- you don’t have to do it all yourself (hire in people with specific skills)
- skilling up – follow what interests you not what you think you should learn
- show outside the south west
- find a paid residency
- someone to write about your work
- Grants for Arts application
- make a piece of work that can travel elsewhere
Looking back on the notes Rosie and I made, there was only one word written in capital letters, and that was PLAY. And top of the list we made for future working was ‘get paid’. Pretty much to the two most important elements of our time together.
It was a challenging and joyous experience. Challenging for me in the role of mentor to gauge when to butt in and when to step back. How to be critically supportive without straying into being overly directive. And joyous for the pleasure of talking and engaging in Rosie’s practice, sharing ‘eureka’ moments, rambling over rocks and exploring precarious histories.
It was a privilege to watch Rosie develop her ideas and confidence and create a very absorbing and successful artwork.
And we both got paid.
And we did smash stones on the beach.
Plymouth Platform is designed & coordinated by Visual Arts Plymouth, informed by previous mentoring schemes run by VASW, a-n (review bursaries) and Hand in Glove (Bristol) and is supported financially through Horizon – a collaborative two year programme of visual contemporary arts, funded through Arts Council England’s Ambition for Excellence fund and supported by Plymouth Culture.