Plymouth College of Art Class of 2021: Traditional artistry reimagined



Plymouth College of Art’s BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing & Printmaking and BA (Hons) Fine Art courses embrace both contemporary and traditional techniques, allowing students to develop a distinct creative voice and encouraging them to be ambitious, self directed and critically engaged thinkers, practitioners and artists.

This year, the Class of 2021 have celebrated their accomplishments as graduates at their

Here we’ve showcased some of the excellence and innovation from this year’s incredible cohort by selecting a hand-picked few who have shown their passion, energy and appetite for success throughout the duration of their degree studies.

Philip Battley – BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing & Printmaking

Award-winning artist Philip Battley was born in Plymouth, where he still lives and works. A former scaffolder, Philip began studying at Plymouth College of Art part-time in 2015. In 2019 he won the prestigious Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize, which saw his work touring the UK. In the same year he also won the Pegasus Award for ‘Best Work on Paper’ at the South West Academy of Fine & Applied Arts Open 2019.

Phillip Battley PDP Summer Show 2021-238

Philip’s practice, which at times borders on photorealism, traverses the parameters of painting, drawing and printmaking, creating paths and allowing him to approach his subjects in various mediums.

Philip said, “My work to some extent involves delving into social, political, and economic tensions that exist beneath life’s surface. I express what I want to say on these issues in my own way, subsuming information from varying sources and then coming to a conclusion through imagery.”

Phillip Battley PDP Summer Show 2021-227

Phillip has exhibited work in London, Leicester, Salisbury and across the South West of England. In addition to acting as Chairman and Programme Secretary for Plymouth Arts Club, Philip has worked on a variety of external projects during his time at Plymouth College of Art, from set design and production for Port Eliot Festival and acting as Artist In Residence at Plymouth School of Creative Arts to collaborating on the city-wide visual arts project, We The People Are The Work.

Emily J Willow – BA (Hons) Fine Art

Emily J Willow is an artist, writer and political activist. Her autobiographical and polemic artwork explores the convergence of visual and written artforms through a variety of media including printing, pastiche and prose. Her exploration into immersive and multi-disciplinary storytelling is inspired by the transformative intertextuality of fandom. Emily’s primary motive is to deliver social commentary through the veil of narrative fiction. Inspired by authors such as Margaret Atwood, Suzanne Collins and Ursula K. Le Guin, Emily combines both the contents and medium of the novel to entertain, teach and protest.

E.J Willow Fine Art Summer Show 2021-135

‘She Means Everything to Me’ takes the form of a novel and visual collage. The pieces of work come together to tell a story of two girls who learned to understand themselves through their understanding of one another.

Emily said,

“The inspiration for the project came from both a quote from Lily Van Der Stokker, whose work encompasses something she calls ‘non-shouting feminism’, and comments from my tutors that my polemic artworks were, at times, too obvious. My intention became the burying of political activism behind the veil of narrative fiction, with the intention of protesting injustices through the voices and experiences of others.”

E.J Willow Fine Art Summer Show 2021-132

On graduating, Emily intends to study an MA in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway University in London, while continuing to work on her contemporary fantasy novel, Ruptured Covenant. Beyond that, her plans are to work in publishing until being able to sustain herself as a full time artist and novelist.

Jo Hooper – BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing & Printmaking

Jo Hooper’s painting practice explores memory, liminal space and the artist’s embodied response to walking within the landscape.

Jo said, “I am particularly intrigued by the in-between states of twilight and dawn and am constantly lured by the emotive power of the interaction of colour. I use colour both instinctively and deliberately by working from memory and by viscerally responding to emerging forms on the canvas. I dissolve and layer paint to both reveal and conceal new patterns and colours and to play with light, translucence and luminosity.

Jo Hooper PDP Summer Show 2021-221

Seeking to represent a sense of something ‘other’ in her work within the picture plane; a feeling of the genius loci of liminal space, Jo purposefully plays with the space between figuration and abstraction to explore an uncertain narrative within an uncanny sense of place.

Jo Hooper PDP Summer Show 2021-77

Jo has exhibited in New York, USA, and Plymouth, UK. During her time at Plymouth College of Art, Jo has worked as a set painter at Port Eliot Festival, in addition to contributing to Plymouth Art Weekender, the Atlantic Project, and city-wide visual arts project, We The People Are The Work.

Ruth Brown – BA (Hons) Fine Art

Ruth Brown is an artist based in Plymouth, with the fundamental concept at the heart of her practice based upon the preservation of memories, both individually and collectively. The process of making is an important and cathartic experience, often a catalyst for her use of material processes and installation. She works within a wide range of media, such as textiles, photographs and performances to share her voice through the use of everyday objects, which are of personal significance. Her work delves into her own past, often focusing on loss as a narrative. The use of art as therapy is a core part of Ruth’s work.

Ruth Brown Fine Art Summer Show 2021-14

‘Family Time’ is a table and installation; the name itself adds an extra dimension to the work, pointing the audience into the direction that the table is a metaphor for family. A rubberwood four seater table is wrapped in black wool, with hard darning, embroidery and stuffing spilling out, signifying secrets and suppressed feelings that come bubbling out and make gaping holes in the family who are trying to appear ‘normal’.

Ruth Brown Fine Art Summer Show 2021-105

Ruth Brown Fine Art Summer Show 2021-104

Ruth said,

“Reflecting back on my degree, it’s certainly been a life changing experience for me as a fine artist and as part of the wider college community. I embarked upon my degree with low self confidence and self esteem, and I would never have imagined being confident enough to achieve a degree. The staff at Plymouth College of Art have coached me and taught me how to be a fine artist in today’s world. As someone with mental health issues, I no longer feel defined by my illness – rather it has provided a cathartic process and a chance to show others how I see the world.”

While currently volunteering with local community interest company Cognitivity, an art group for people with mental health issues as well as taking part in a counselling placement for Plymouth based charity SALT, Ruth aims to study a Masters in Art Psychotherapy at South Wales University or Goldsmiths in 2022.

Martine McPherson – BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing & Printmaking

Cornish artist and printmaker Martine McPherson takes inspiration from the marine environment and coastline that surrounds her. Believing that art is a tool to engage conversation, connect people, inspire change and promote awareness, Martine is interested in the ways that the elements affect and alter the landscape and cause the change, often with devastating effects.

Martine McPherson PDP Summer Show 2021-28

Martine said,

“My work focuses on beauty and devastation, highlighting the symbiotic relationship between the natural and manmade world. Recent work explores the medium of monoprint, where the changes that happen between the plate and finished image are reflected in the immediacy of the monoprint, a metaphor and parody for change.”

Martine McPherson PDP Summer Show 2021-180

Martine has exhibited in Spain and across the South West of England, as well as participating twice in Tate Exchange, exhibiting at Tate Modern, London. She also contributed to ‘Art For Good…’, an art installation with artist Anthony Garratt, Newlyn School of Art and the National Trust, in which over one thousand artists painted at the same time on the coastal path at Sennen, Cornwall.

Lucie Smith – BA (Hons) Fine Art

Lucie Smith’s practice seeks to grasp the present whereabouts of her being through critical consideration of her experience of the world. By exploring the expansive realm of art process and medium, she attempts to unite past with present and unconscious with conscious. Notions of memory, trace, absence, separation and home are interwoven; alluding to a collective fluidity of the passage of time.

Lucie Smith Fine Art Summer Show 2021-85

Autobiographical and sometimes confessional, her practice is rooted within the concealed, allowing a process of analysing the internal to take the lead in obtaining narratives. Amongst fascination with the function of site and place within her practice, Lucie is also driven by the philosophical and psychoanalytical theories that underpin her ideas and practice, often utilising symbolic contexts in order to entwine thought, theory and material.

Lucie Smith Fine Art Summer Show 2021-82

‘Unearthed Encounters’ embodies the experience of memory and place through a process of materialising the uncanny. The installation, featuring a broken sink, overgrown windows and rotten wood, brings together fragmented verbal recollections from within Lucie’s family, alongside the remains of sentimental objects. It explores the frustration of the unspoken and the continuous process of being reuniting and dissociating with past memory; an inbetween of remembering and forgetting.

Lucie Smith Fine Art Summer Show 2021-185

After settling in Plymouth while studying at Plymouth College of Art, Lucie plans to stay in the city while gaining experience in both the freelance and educational sectors. Her eventual goal is to complete either an MA in Sculpture or MRes in Art Theory at the University of the Arts London, as well as a PGCE in Further Education.

Charlotte Day – BA (Hons) Fine Art

Charlotte Day uses a variety of processes, such as film, photography, sculpture and painting, with her artwork aiming to challenge and explore a broad spectrum of topics. She aims to use her practice as a means to raise awareness, challenge existing ideas and continuously educate herself, as well as others, on pressing issues.

‘88%’ sets out to explore the relationship between materialism and consumerism through the process of manipulating materials’ properties. Challenging the connotations behind ownership and authorship, she portrays the plastic world we reside in through her corruption of materials’ original form.

Charlotte Day Fine Art Summer Show 2021-53

The absence of naivety and ignorance creates an immersive harsh reality in efforts to raise questions and to generate conversations about mass production of single-use plastic and to confront you with the obvious damaging effect on the planet. By constructing a different perception of this material, it evolves the value of plastic.

Sarah King, Subject Leader for BA (Hons) Fine Art said,

“The lockdown turned Charlotte’s life around, it gave her space to realise what is vital to her. She became a different student, one who wanted to make a difference, who realised she had something to say and wanted to say this with a passion through her practice. The sophistication of the work has been achieved through hard work, failure, success and a sense of humour. Charlotte uses her practice as a means to raise awareness, challenge existing ideas and continuously educate herself, as well as others, on these pressing issues such as social injustices, social media, mental health, materialism and consumerism.”

Charlotte Day Fine Art Summer Show 2021-169

Charlotte was awarded the The Dean’s Award for 2021. The Dean’s Award recognises work of outstanding quality judged on the work exhibited as part of the Plymouth College of Art Summer Shows, and is selected for being Best in Show.

Yazmine Labban – BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing & Printmaking

Plymouth-based artist Yazmine Labban is a qualified counsellor who has worked for Barnardo’s Charity.

Yazmine said, “My work is a journey through memories, stories passed down to me from my relatives. I am inspired by local history and seek to find the hidden pieces of untold information. I came to Plymouth College of Art thinking that I would explore and learn through paint, but I find drawing to be the foundation, and route in, to both printing and painting.

Yazmine Labban PDP Summer Show 2021-62

“I am interested in using tactility, sightlines and senses, to create the atmosphere which flows through my work. When Federico Fellini said “all art is autobiographical”, he wasn’t wrong – I think to make art is to seek something from the soul, a language that we engage in with ourselves which has a ripple effect when it then resonates with others.”

Yazmine Labban PDP Summer Show 2021-12

During her time at Plymouth College of Art, Yazmine illustrated a children’s book for Shekinah, the South West based charity for people experiencing homelessness.

Ebony Jowitt – BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing & Printmaking

Specialising in painting and drawing, artist Ebony Jowitt comes from Barnsley, South Yorkshire. Colour plays an important role in Ebony’s work, often with a restricted palette and interrogation of contrasting colours, intended to break through harmony by forming a sense of unity through balance.

Ebony Jowitt PDP Summer Show 2021-119

Ebony said,

“My investigation starts with movement, predominantly outside of the home, within the rural environment. These walk-led paintings are an emotional understanding of the vast environments and how they are interpreted through limited memories. I paint in a way that allows the viewer to enter the walk with me, playing with the scale of my work to create an interactive world of colour and experience.

Ebony Jowitt PDP Summer Show 2021-123

“Through my repetitive walking, I question the space that I walk through as it in turn becomes a place. One that is frequently visited both physically and mentally throughout my painting process.”

Ebony’s work is on show for the rest of the summer at Barclays Bank in Plymouth City Centre as part of the IGNITE Festival of Creativity.

Alexandra Brown – BA (Hons) Fine Art

Alexandra Brown is a multidisciplinary artist on a mission from God with a penchant for theatrics, saunas and rock ‘n’ roll. Her process is a contemplation and celebration of the ethereal, manifesting in playful experimentation and attempts to map the metaphysical with childlike reverence. Brown’s practice includes, but is not bound to, drawing – both in virtual reality and more traditionally in this perceived actual reality, digital media, performance and interactive installations. Her current practice is an investigation into the nexus point between ancient eastern philosophy and contemporary quantum sciences, illustrating a fundamental interconnectedness of everything – a reality that is constantly moving, flowing and changing.

Alexandra Brown Fine Art Summer Show 2021-219

‘Impermanence’ is an exciting innovative digital installation with three miniature holographic figures circling their arms in an infinite loop. As described by artist and researcher Maud Craigie in her critical review of the BA (Hons) Fine Art Summer Show 2021, these figures are positioned in front of a gold curtain, with shallow trays of water refracting sound and rippling into the space. The size of the small figures in relation to us forces a shift in perspective – a sensation of viewing on a macro level.

Alexandra Brown Fine Art Summer Show 2021-223

Alexandra already has a busy schedule lined up after graduating. From July 16, she will be exhibiting for a month in Prime Cafe in Plymouth, followed by the ARTforFood charity exhibition at the Angel Gallery in Totnes from July 20 to 25 and in September, Alexandra will be C.A.M.P’s online Artist in Residence.

Read about artist and researcher Maud Craigie’s experience of the BA (Hons) Fine Art Summer Show 2021 on the Plymouth College of Art Journal.

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