Karolina Lebek, from her new series Resistance to Erasure. Photo courtesy of the artist

The years after finishing university are often challenging, especially today when recent graduates often have severe financial burdens and yet still need to develop their artistic practice. Frame and Reference asked some of those selected last year about their experiences since graduating and the benefits of having been part of Platform 2012, the inaugural year of the programme.

The Platform Award aims to highlight the wealth of talent emerging from the region’s Higher Education Institutions and provides that much needed helping hand to artists embarking upon their professional careers. Now in its second year, Platform 2013 is an initiative of CVAN South East with four participating galleries: Aspex, Portsmouth; Modern Art Oxford; MK Gallery, Milton Keynes and Turner Contemporary, Margate. The winner of the Platform Award is a £2,500 bursary and a 12-month bespoke programme of professional development. Last year’s winner Joella Wheatley will be featured next week on Frame and Reference ahead of the announcement on 7 November at Turner Contemporary.

Click on the thumbnail images above to see the full version of the image with the artist’s name

1) Can you comment on your experience of PLATFORM 2012?
2) What have you been doing since then? (exhibitions/workshops/travelling/working/studying/planning to study)
3) What have been/are the main challenges for you in developing your work and artistic practice (inc professional development) since graduating
4) What kind of support, advice and guidance in the visual arts do you think would be most helpful for those selected for Platform?

Naomi Eaton-Baudains
Platform was an opportunity to further my work, and enabled me to work with a professional team from an initial sketch until completion.

Since being shortlisted for Platform, I have worked on a commission for Guy Hollaway Architects and Stephen Webster. Alongside the commission, I was artist-in-residence for the year in the sculpture department at Christ Church University. Recently I received an Interegg Scholarship to study for an MA in Sculpture and Installation at the University of Creative Arts.

Studio space is a priority and during my stint as artist-in-residence I had the use of a section of the sculpture studio. In art there is no set pathway but I’ve learnt to grab opportunities with both hands. Being thrown into major projects is a steep learning curve but this enabled me to develop skills, and to work with clients, new materials and new environments.

Jack Eden
Platform was a great way to continue momentum straight after my degree show, and helped me keep making work after graduating. Since then I have taken the year to keep making work and exhibiting, including shows with OVADA, Oxford and Fermyn Woods Contemporary Art, Northampton.

After graduating, the main problem of making art has been the resources: both in terms of a time and place to work and also developing ideas without the coaching from tutors and friends you grow used to at art school. A greater focus on future projects would help Platform to be more of a spring-board for future career development

Lucy Garnett
It was an interesting experience to see how an art gallery prepares for an exhibition. I particularly valued working as part of a team instead of on my own for college assessment purposes.

I relocated to Seattle in July 2012, so I have been working on establishing new links with people in the art world in the region such as artists and curators. I have been researching contemporary American artists, particularly those working in Fiber Arts. I am in the planning stages of a new project. Emigrating to the States has been a great challenge to me. I have also been hindered by a neurological condition that affected my hands, arm and shoulders, stemming from the neck which required a spinal operation.

It would be helpful to have some guidance on how to make initial contact with art galleries in the future and more information on exhibiting work in different locations.

Alana Francis
For me taking part in Platform has played a key role in the start of my progression as a practising artist and was a wonderful experience to have been a part of.

The experience of the group show at Modern Art Oxford and working closely with the team involved with Platform helped me build a very strong application for post graduate courses and gain further confidence in discussing my practice for the interviews. I will be starting at the Royal Academy in October and I have also been part of a couple of exhibitions in London.

One of the key challenges I have faced continuing my artistic practice and developing work after graduating is the maintenance of a support network. Whilst in education you are part of a strong body of students, all making and developing their thought processes together. Once leaving this environment it can feel quite isolating at first, and the ability to adapt to working alone for long periods of time without guidance, and learning to trust my own judgment has been key. However, I have maintained contact with a number of my old peers, and continue to put myself in environments where I can meet new people to discuss work and ideas with. I have also had to develop the skills to discuss my practice with those outside of an educational environment; learning to adapt my discourse to no longer one of tutor and student.

I think that advice on affordable studio spaces would be extremely well received as it is hard to find these opportunities without initial guidance. Also advice on applying to internship schemes at galleries and opportunities to work as an artist assistant, it can be quite difficult to find information about these subjects.

Karolina Lebek
Having my work selected, viewed, and reviewed by industry’s professionals as part of the Platform process proved to be a confidence boost and an invaluable lesson at the same time. At this point of my career, I cannot express fully how significant a change this was and how very determined I felt.

Since taking part in Platform, I have been constantly working on improving my set of skills and expanding my portfolio of work. Having been approached by a London gallery LILK following my show at Milton Keynes Gallery, I am now one of their represented artists and have shown in a number of ‘pop-up’ shows.

Currently I am looking for a studio space and I’m also gathering funds and preparing myself for studying an MA in fine art, possibly in London. Thanks to Platform 2012 I met Marion Piper, also shortlisted for the Platform award, who I will soon collaborate with. I’m really looking forward to it as I find Marion’s work connects to mine in many ways.

The main challenges I’ve come across since graduating are financial limitations. Not being surrounded by creatives and having lost the constant access to high-end equipment and resources was tough at the beginning. I think that most valuable advice would be around finding employment and ways to support yourself and your practice. Opportunities that allow emerging artists to develop further and search for new directions is what most of us need.
www.karolinalebek.com

Marion Piper
The experience of preparing two proposals as part of the Milton Keynes Gallery Platform process was invaluable. Having the opportunity to make work for the solo show at MKG was fantastic motivation. I still feel very supported by my growing connection with the gallery and their interest and encouragement.

I have also become aware of the relationship between the organisations in the South East network and their individual aims which has lead to my feeling a part of a ‘regional’ group. Living in High Wycombe I saw myself as being outside of the London region but not connected particularly to one, that has changed for me. Linking in with Frame and Reference has also helped this sense of context.

I am delighted to have met Karolina Lebek through the Platform award process and we have begun working on a collaborative project that will include a postal exchange of material between us that will act as a stimulus/response to new work, I am very excited about this. This year I have been included in a number of group shows and take an active role in organizing artist led projects.

On the evening of the announcement of the Platform award, Jenny Brown of the China Shop Gallery said during the panel discussion that she only considered artists for her gallery after they have been out of university for two years, and then she wanted to see what they had been doing during that time. This was helpful as it focused me to view this period as important and to build a good ‘record’ of practice activity, for now and for the long term.
www.marionpiper.com
@marionpiper

Eaton-Baudains has this advice for recent graduates:
Grab all opportunities with gusto
Keep your practice alive and growing
Have a studio where you can further your work perhaps in a collaborative setting
Never underestimate the importance of a web presence



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