From the beginning you could tell that Abi was a lovely person who was completely dedicated to her craft. She graduated from a Fine Art degree specialising in sculpture from Central St Martins in 2008 and since then has worked in London and Luton and exhibited work all over the country.
Rather than give us an overview of what she does, Abi showed us how she got to where she did and some tips on working in the Arts.
Abi was extremely lucky in the fact that she did well from her degree show, selling a video to a collector and making a lot of connections. However she did stress that part time jobs are necessary to pay the bills and that her jobs did actually help her. She told us that she worked as an private art tutor but was also working as a receptionist at an autistic school which gave her a lot of skills that may not have been learnt otherwise such as admin and people skills. She also said that sometimes we can work for nothing just to be ‘in the field’ and it can actually burn out our creativeness and stop us from creating work in our free time.
Another thing that I found with Abi was the amount of exhibitions that she’d been in which was a crazy amount but she stated that most of her exhibitions came from the same sort of people and they all just lead on to bigger and better things which is something we’ve been told before. A lot of her early exhibitions were from colleagues from University and other peers which then led on to her meeting more people.
When she moved to Luton Abi found that she was starting at square one, so she met with the Luton Arts Officer who told her about lots of opportunities and exhibition spaces in the area. It was from this that she held her first residency and this would be one of many. This gave her a group of likeminded people that would then go on and meet every month to discuss ideas. Although not meeting anymore, she stated that this was still an amazing opportunity and that she is still in contact with all of the people from this residency.
Something that was really refreshing to hear was Abi say that not every opportunity was a good opportunity. This was a reasonably new thing to hear from an Industry Friday talk as usually most people say to take every opportunity that comes up however she did admit that you have to fully weigh up the situation and see if it is a good portrayal of your work. She did also say that sometimes the smaller things will lead on to bigger things so not to always look at it closed minded.
But, alongside all of this she made it clear that we should always show ourselves professionally and take ourselves seriously no matter how ‘silly’ we feel. She gave a story about her degree show and putting up work with a small spirit level and one of her lecturers coming over and telling her to take herself seriously and that is something that I will definitely take forward with me.