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Student Spotlight: Amy Gration

Friday 04 November 2016
Words Spindle

Amy Gration is a student at Falmouth University, where she is in her final year studying Contemporary Crafts. She creates a wide range of artworks, from ceramics to illustrations to textiles, as well as working with glass and wood. She will normally use multiple materials per project, combining them where she can. Amy’s work is highly imaginative, and each piece she makes is completely different and one of a kind. Fascinated by her many skills and talent at using a wide range of materials to create art, we asked Amy to spill the beans on her course, her projects, and what art and making means to her.

Tell us about your course, Contemporary Crafts?

Not having many similar courses around the UK makes this particular course unique. Unique for its location, strategy, its sense of broadness, and not to mention the range of fabulous characters and friends made. Our main material source that we work with are wood, glass and ceramics but we are encouraged to use other materials such as plaster, metals, resins, jesmonite, and silicone to achieve forms we wish to create. Contemporary crafts are for those with minds that thrive to work hands on, to be creative in their own individual way. There are never two works the same and the inspirations that become catalysts to our work can vary from very deep and emotional to as random as you like, ranging from functional to aesthetic objects too.

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Falmouth University is closing your course despite its long tradition at the university – what do you think about this?

First of all, I feel very privileged and lucky to be a part of the final year. I also feel very sad that others will not experience the opportunity to expand their creativity like I feel I have from the incredible help from tutors and technicians (which seem to give more attention and dedicated time to the students than most other courses). Finally, I’m disappointed, after trying our upmost to make our course recognised by protesting, there was still no effort by the university to consider the fact that they should reconsider. It is confusing to see the ‘No.1 Arts University’ slowly getting rid of arts based courses, even Theatre.

What’s been the most valuable thing you’ve learnt on your course?

It has taught to believe in my individually and to never be afraid or hold back on asking others for advice or opinions, as those are key to you and your skills growing.

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What does art mean to you, and what makes you want to create?

Art is something that I started doing very early as a young child. I was quite a curious character and found myself rummaging through one of our cupboards in our old house, and whilst doing so I found an old folder full of intricate drawings, later realising that they were my mothers. I think the thing that struck me was the fact that art, illustration, and painting have so much energy behind it. It’s very much an imprint made by someone, someone just as alive as you. And the things that person has made are powerful enough to change the way you think or feel. Or in my case, the very thing that started my love to be creative.

I’d say it’s the things that I’ve experienced and continue to experience in my life that make me want to make. Like Shakespeare and his passion to write. I see art as therapy, like how dreams are essentially your brain processing all that you’ve seen within a day or a week. Making gives me a chance to have my own imprint on the world and at the same time share it with people. When I make something I’m usually drawn to deep emotional concepts. The most important part when finally showing work to others is the potential for them to relate or be inspired by it, whether it brings them comfort, gives them the urge to create, or even just spark any feeling, bad or good. Essentially the idea is to spread the feeling of consciousness. If my work is successful in any of those ways then I’m a happy bunny.

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What projects have you completed on your degree?

Two projects were to create a lathed and slip casted cruet (salt and pepper shakers), and an abstract glass casted creature. We have also completed many collaborations in second year, as well as so far in third year, where we are given briefs to create works for a specific location. It’s important that we go to that place as much as we can until we form our own interpretation of it. The places we’ve worked with include the National Trust’s Trelissick Gardens, the Heseltine Gallery in Truro and the Tropical Pressure Festival. I’ve also created a drawing of dancing lemurs in a collaboration with the bioscience students at Exeter University to advertise and raising money for their trip to Madagascar.

Do you have a favourite project or piece that you’ve created?

I’d say it was one of the first projects that we had in first year, which was a very simple brief that asked us to make a cruet set (salt and pepper shakers). We were set a challenge to only use the lathe as a way of making the form. Something which started out as a cylinder block of plaster become a set of bowing profiled faces. What makes its my favourite was the fact that I was told that over all my design would be hard to achieve and almost not possible by my tutors. Even though I was told that, I knew what I wanted to do and how I was going to do it; I was ready for any drawbacks and went ahead with the idea anyway.

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What are you currently working on in your final year of university?

Currently we are working on a project with Truro Cathedral, and the pieces made are a reflection of what we’ve learnt or seen at the cathedral and will be start to be exhibited there on the 1st Feb 2017, so if anyone is in that area at the time we courage you to come along! My particular piece is inspired by the memorial space dedicated to remembrance of the children that have sadly passed away. I had found a comforting poem called ‘A Child Loaned’ by Edgar A. Guest, written for the mourning parents of those children. I want to create a piece from core casted glass that captures the strong bound relationship between a parent and a child by using forms of hands, specific colour and shape. As you walk around the spectacular build you can see the importance of using colour and shape to draw the eye and exaggerate meaning.

Also I’m writing my dissertation, which is based on the Craftivism movement and asks questions about the impact it has made, the issues it has faced, and whether or not it is still relevant as a political and social tool. The last ever project on the course is usually a brief that is entirely set by us as individuals; it serves as a summary of what we’ve learnt during the course, especially the techniques and skills gained over the three-year period. The style that I’ve gained will definitely come through in my final show, but I’m uncertain yet as to what that maybe be.

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You make a wide range of artwork, from illustrations to ceramics – do you have a favourite form?

I usually try and work with multiple materials during one project, but I’m most comfortable working with glass, ceramics and soft materials, for example knit. Although, which material to use is always a decision made after the design process, as the material has the potential to show particular meanings or feelings. For example, glass is hard and sometimes difficult to see through, but is also fragile and cold. I’ve always had an obsession with heads and hands mostly, especially illustrating them. But I’m also drawn to exploring figurative forms, usually distorting them or changing the way they look physically to try and interpret emotion. I’m also fascinated with how different minds dream; I’m always trying to decipher what my own dreams mean, and I’ve done projects in the past inspired by dreams in college.

Do you have a dream project for the future?

I plan to go on and do an apprenticeship in ceramics after uni, and to incorporate textile and my illustrations in any way that I can. The dream for the future is to work self-employed, to be an owner of a multimedia shop that sells handmade ceramics and textile pieces, and has a place that people can eat and drink, and also join in making their own ceramic trinkets and objects that they can treasure, knowing that they made it themselves.

Check out more of Amy’s artwork on her tumblr and pinterest.