Congratulations to the host of Academy alumni who were selected for his year’s ING Discerning Eye Exhibiiton.

Alumni from our Fine Art Programme and now tutors at the Academy Lynne Abrahamson and Gail Seres-Woolfson were selected and so too was fellow gradudate Sarah Barker Brown. Contemporary Portraiture graduate Helen Stone,  and Certificate graduate Christine Duffin both also had work accepted.

The exhibition will run at the Mall Galleries from the 14th November until the 24th November 2019.


FD Fine Art (Contemporary Portraiture) Student Ruth Swain is currently exhibiting three works at two exhibitions across the country: Snoggin (pictured) is on show at the Oxford Art Society Open Exhibition until the 27th October, ‘Just Checking’ and ‘Given the Finger’ will both be at the RWA Annual Open Exhibition until 1st December 2019.


 From an early age I have been fascinated by 3D forms and how different materials and processes can affect my perception and engagement with them. In the 1990s, I started to explore my own creativity and loved the process of making sculptures. After a life-changing experience, it became to clear to me that I wanted to develop my artistic side and be challenged to explore my practice.

Finding a course that focuses on the actual making of sculptures is very difficult these days, so discovering the Academy was very exciting. The Sculpture foundation degree offers so many opportunities to explore a wide range of skills, processes and media through the Elective Skills Workshops and Studio Practice. The course is really well structured with close teaching and personalised feedback by experienced and practising artists. I believe that the focus on preparing students for future work is unique to the Academy and essential in anyones development as a working sculptor. The Professional Development module is a fascinating part of the course, introducing you to sections of the creative industries and hearing from artists about how to develop a career.

Having input from others, including students, has challenged my thinking and offered me new ways of seeing and doing things; it is always done in an incredibly supportive way. It is interesting to hear how my work is perceived and has made me reflect on what I am trying to achieve and the concepts that I am working with. I am developing a language to discuss, explain and critically assess my work, which is invaluable in order to grow and develop as an artist.

I have also become interested in understanding how my work fits in to current sculpture practice and how to make it relevant to audiences of today and the future. Tutors have an incredible knowledge of other artists and it has been fantastic to re-discover artists and be introduced to so many new ones. I am looking at art in an entirely different way now and enjoying the research that comes with the advice.

My expectations of the course were surpassed within the first few months and I still cannot believe how rapidly my practice and thinking has developed. It has opened my eyes to different ways of thinking and interpreting my ideas, and I have started using materials I never thought I would. I wanted my work to become less figurative but am surprised how quickly I have done that and with a confidence I did not know I had. I could have not done all these things without the insights and support offered by the Academy.

 Having started the course for personal reasons, my confidence is growing exponentially and I am now starting to believe that I could become a practising sculptor!

We had a talk from video, sculpture and installation artist Robin Tarbet at the Academy this week. He shared some really interesting insights into his career as an artist with AAL students.

Having grown up in rural Wiltshire, Robin was inspired by natural landscapes and open spaces from a young age. He then went on to study printmaking at Norwich College of Art and Design. During his university explorations, he started to develop ideas around the notion of an illusion. The ambiguity of technological objects’ inner workings really interested him; he noticed how often we don’t know how the devices we use actually work. He began creating sculptures and installations which created an illusion of their inner workings.

Robin’s practice changed when he moved to London; he was influenced the by large scale infrastructure that surrounded him. He said “the aesthetic of my work is based on in-between places, places between the city and the countryside.” Robin found a lot of great imagery in places and objects that have a solely functional (and often industrial) purpose.

A lot of his practice involves low-fi video and photography. The featured photograph is a product of one of his installations, through which he took photos with a camera attached to a moving model train! He is drawn to the “painterly quality” of the burred, low-fi image.

He talked to students about the shift from art student to artist, reminding everyone that once you leave university you don’t necessarily have access to facilities and expensive tools (such as a printing press). He works around this by being incredibly resourceful, often using recycled objects and kit that he could “get from a toy shop.” Robin still uses all of the skills he learned at art school to “pay the rent!”

Thank you to Robin for joining us today and giving our students a really interesting perspective on life as an artist in the real world.