Two Fine Art graduates from University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) Swansea College of Art have won places on the Artists Benevolent Fund’s Step Change Fellowship Programme. The programme provides sponsorship funding to help graduates who have experienced disadvantages through social, economic or cultural circumstances to help to launch, sustain and develop their careers as fully committed artists.
This is the first year UWTSD has taken part in the programme. It will work in partnership with the Artists Benevolent Fund to support Step Change Fellows Elisha Hughes and Andrew Bowen as they progress throughout the year. They will each receive £10,000 funding from the Artists Benevolent Fund and the university will provide them with studio space, mentoring, materials and access to workshops.
Elisha Hughes works in multiple media and is currently exploring the concept of time and documentation through her work. She is delighted to have won the fellowship, which will help her forge her career as an artist, and possibly progress into education.
“I couldn’t believe it when I found out I had been awarded the fellowship – I still think it hasn’t fully sunk in,” she says. “I am extremely thankful for the fellowship and to everyone who has supported me over the past few years. I plan to grab every possibility, collaborating, researching, curating exhibitions and using the facilities, but most importantly being in my studio space creating. I want to learn as much as possible, perhaps exploring further research and educational possibilities.
“I am from a Communities First area where there can be little opportunities, so I thought I’d enable these opportunities by focusing on my education. There can be a stigma around art and being from a communities first area, and I want to break down these barriers. I believe that anything is possible, it just takes commitment.”
For Andrew, who is pursuing sculptural practice alongside a newly discovered passion for community, collaboration and cultural heritage, the fellowship will provide multiple benefits, including access to essential facilities.
“To be selected was an incredibly proud moment,” he says “It’s a little overwhelming too, and makes me feel slightly nervous. To be selected ahead of some brilliant artists that had graduated in the class of COVID-19 comes with its own pressures, but I’m ecstatic about this opportunity and will be sure to make the most of it.
“The artistic facilities at UWTSD are phenomenal. From canvas making, and metal working to 3D printing and ceramics, it has invaluable resources for any aspiring artist. These invaluable commodities don’t stop there though: being able to tap into the brilliant minds of the onsite technicians can go a tremendous way in making or breaking a concept I had in mind. Then there is the studio space, the most generous I have ever had the privilege of practising in. To have twelve months in this incredible space, all while under the nurturing eye of an esteemed artist and mentor in Professor Sue Williams seems like a dream.”
Professor Sue Williams, Programme Manager of Fine Art: Studio Site & Context at UWTSD, is proud that Elisha and Andrew were selected for the fellowships.
“We were very impressed with the standard produced by their cohort, who had to work under very unusual circumstances due to COVID-19,” says Sue. “I’m delighted we will be able to help support Elisha and Andrew as they begin their careers. The fellowship is an opportunity for them to step up their knowledge and to form connections in the fine art world.
“Our Fine Art programme provides a direct connection between the international platforms of contemporary practice and the students dedicated studio space situated in our Dynevor building, at the heart of Swansea city centre. We support and enable students to leave with a broad skill set and the ability to make decisions with confidence into whatever art-related field they choose. As Fine Art staff, we are international practitioners therefore connected to a great many art-based networks which can often highlight opportunities for our students. These Fellowships are an example of this wider network that we as staff are involved in. With our full support I wish both Elisha and Andrew a great year ahead in creating a path towards their dreams.”
Professor Tim Davies, Senior Lecturer on the BA Fine Art Site, Studio and Context course at Swansea College of Art UWTSD, added: “The Fine Art staff at Swansea College of Art are pleased this year to collaborate for the first time with the Artists Benevolent Fund in supporting two recent graduates Elisha Hughes and Andrew Bowen. Each recipient receives a grant and a generous studio space in addition to having full access to our workshop facilities for twelve months.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for Elisha and Andrew to concentrate solely on developing their practice right at the start of their careers and right at the heart of Dynevor adding a further buzz to the creative pulse that pervades our building. We look forward to continuing this relationship with the Artists Benevolent Fund and are grateful of the recognition this initiative brings to the historical and growing cultural significance of Fine Art at Swansea.”