Emily Hett and Grace Stones un­veiled as ABF Fel­lows...

Loughborough Echo - - SHEPSHED SCENE - DAVID GODSALL david.godsall@reach­plc.com

FINE Art grad­u­ates Emily Hett and Grace Stones have been an­nounced as the new ABF Step Change Fel­lows at Lough­bor­ough Univer­sity for 20192020. The ABF (es­tab­lished as the Artists’ Benev­o­lent Fund over 200 years ago) Step Change Pro­gramme has been de­signed to sup­port emerg­ing and tal­ented artists so that they can de­velop their prac­tice within the guid­ing en­vi­ron­ment of an art school or col­lege. ABF co­or­di­na­tor, Tessa Jack­son OBE, said: “ABF’s part­ner­ship with Lough­bor­ough Univer­sity pro­vides grad­u­ates with a stipend, fa­cil­i­ties and men­tor­ing in or­der that they can re­ally es­tab­lish their cre­ative ca­reers.” The Fel­lows are based in the Fine Art Pro­gramme in the School of De­sign and Cre­ative Arts. They have stu­dio space, ac­cess to work­shops and the teach­ing and learn­ing pro­gramme. They are also em­bed­ded within, and ac­tive con­trib­u­tors to, de­vel­op­ing the stu­dio cul­ture in Fine Art. This in­cludes sup­port­ing un­der­grad­u­ates through peer-to-peer learn­ing in group tu­to­ri­als and by shar­ing their ex­pe­ri­ences in more in­for­mal con­texts. Emily said: “I am very ex­cited to be re­turn­ing to Lough­bor­ough Univer­sity to work along­side stu­dents, tech­ni­cians and staff within the fine art stu­dio set­ting. “The sup­port from both the ABF and Lough­bor­ough will al­low me to fo­cus solely on es­tab­lish­ing a pro­fes­sional prac­tice and en­able me to con­tinue to push the bound­aries of my sculp­tural work by ex­plor­ing dif­fer­ent meth­ods and ma­te­ri­als.” Grace added: “I have been try­ing to jug­gle part-time jobs, ap­ply­ing for ex­hi­bi­tions, vol­un­teer­ing and mak­ing art­work. This op­por­tu­nity has en­abled me to be­lieve in my­self again. “I am hon­oured, proud and so ex­cited for the year ahead. I hope I can help other stu­dents to see the im­por­tance of stu­dio cul­ture, so they can use it to their full po­ten­tial.” Dr An­toinette Burchill, a univer­sity teacher in fine art and the ABF Step Change pro­gramme man­ager for Lough­bor­ough Univer­sity said: “Emily and Grace are both ris­ing to the chal­lenge of de­vel­op­ing their pro­fes­sional art prac­tices through this Fel­low­ship. Both Fel­lows are si­mul­ta­ne­ously lean­ing into the joy of mak­ing whilst con­fronting the dif­fi­cul­ties they en­counter by es­ca­lat­ing their ideas and am­bi­tions. I have no doubt that this will be a trans­for­ma­tional year for them.” Di­rec­tor of un­der­grad­u­ate stud­ies within the school, Dr Deb­o­rah Harty said: “The char­ac­ter­is­tics the Fel­lows demon­strate: de­ter­mi­na­tion, op­ti­mism and re­silience are help­ing Fine Art un­der­grad­u­ates com­pre­hend their stud­ies with a new per­spec­tive and fo­cus on their pro­fes­sional prac­tice, which will be so im­por­tant to them as they grad­u­ate.” Fol­low the Fel­lows’ jour­ney on In­sta­gram and Twit­ter us­ing the hash­tag #ABFStepCha­ngeLboro. ABF’s Step Change Pro­gramme, first es­tab­lished in 2017, iden­ti­fied a need for emerg­ing artists to have greater sup­port fol­low­ing art school. The part­ner­ship be­tween Lough­bor­ough Univer­sity and ABF has grown out of post-doc­toral re­search by Dr An­toinette Burchill in her AHRC Cre­ative Econ­omy En­gage­ment Fel­low­ship at The CAMEo Re­search In­sti­tute, Univer­sity of Le­ices­ter, in part­ner­ship with Con­tem­po­rary Visual Arts Net­work East Mid­lands (CVAN EM) dur­ing 2019. The project, It Takes A Re­gion To Raise An Artist in­ves­ti­gated the East Mid­lands’ visual arts cre­ative econ­omy and its cul­tural in­fra­struc­ture. This new re­search iden­ti­fied a re­gional lack in cre­ative in­dus­tries sup­port for 18 to 34-year-old visual arts prac­ti­tion­ers. ABF’s Step Change Pro­gramme helps to re­dress this gap in sup­port for Lough­bor­ough grad­u­ates.

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