John Morrison - winner of the Student vote 2009
AA2A are delighted to profile John Morrison, winner of the Student vote for 2008-09. He completed his AA2A scheme at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan). As a result of being voted the students choice we invited John to London to present his work and talk about his AA2A experience at our annual briefing day for AA2A Colleges at the Wellcome Institute.
He summed up what AA2A meant to him .
AA2A has given me a great deal of confidence, has opened up lots of exhibiting opportunities and has allowed me time and access to excellent printmaking facilities. The chance to network with the other AA2A artists was invaluable and I have gained so much from the experience that I have recommended it to several of my artist friends as a great way to develop their work. Winning the student choice award was a fantastic opportunity to share my experience of AA2A and I had a wonderful day at the Wellcome Institute.
John felt that AA2A offered the flexibility that full scale residencies cant accommodate. I would have liked to have started the MA course in Fine Art Studio Practice but could not get the funding this year and the AA2A scheme proved to be the ideal alternative. In fact, it has done me a great favour, by giving me a clear focus for the kind of work I will be researching when I do get the chance to start the MA. I have a much deeper knowledge of printmaking and have had the opportunity to work closely and make good friends with the students and staff on the MA courses in the Fine Art department."
John started the scheme having recently taken early retirement from his post as Head of the Art and Design Department in a large FE College in order to further his own practice. John has worked in art education for over twenty-five years since graduating from Gloucester College of Art, where he studied Fine Art. He continues teaching and mentoring others. I have recently been working at Runshaw Sixth Form College as a mentor for a newly qualified art teacher. I previously worked there as a temporary acting Head of Visual Arts and as an Art Consultant for the Fine Art courses. They have also offered me work running Printmaking workshops later in the academic year.
Prior to applying for AA2A John had been participating in ArtLab (a weekly printmaking workshop) at UCLan. I was aware of the facilities in the Printmaking Department through the access to ArtLab and was able to become familiar with most of the processes in a limited way through this. Although John had seen an advert for AA2A in a-n magazine, he didnt spot the relevance of the scheme until staff at ArtLab encouraged him to apply. Sarah Robinson (RCA), who was one of the print technicians at the time, gave me a lot of encouragement to apply for AA2A and reassured me that it was not just for young graduates!
Contact with students
At interview John asked for a table to use as a base within the department, as he wanted to actively encourage interaction with students. John marked the desk area in the drawing studio with his name and the AA2A logo. He then put ongoing work up on the wall to create a dialogue. Staff regularly introduced John to student groups who came into the workshop. Students were also able to read more about his work and what he intended to do on the scheme on his profile page on AA2A.org. One of the things I found particularly helpful was working in a creative environment where I was able to discuss my work with technicians (who are all practicing artists), undergraduates and MA students. Education is always a two way process and I gained as much from the students as I gave out - perhaps more! Because I had a particular workspace where students could view my current work it was very easy to engage in a dialogue with them. They were particularly fascinated when I was using power tools to cut the surface of my plates.
Thanks to the generosity of UCLan John spent over 200 hours on AA2A and produced 30 works including prints, collagraphs, relief-prints, etchings, paintings, drawings and larger scale prints.
I had the opportunity to experiment with the laser cutting machine in the fashion department at UCLan and used this to develop a series of relief prints using lino and plywood. This was a great opportunity to use this technology and it has opened my eyes to the potential of using this approach to printmaking. I gave a lecture on my experience of AA2A at the end of the residency and regularly gave informal one to one tutorials with the fine art and illustration students on the BA courses.
I had lots of opportunities to discuss the practicalities of my project with the print technicians and was given the benefit of their knowledge throughout my time on the residency. I was normally in for three days a week and was given the freedom of the drawing studio where I was able to work on the larger scale that my work demanded. My work has always been about the natural landscape and has developed into a process of scanning the surface of the earth and exploring the 'insignificant' aspects of the land. I have been documenting specific locations in my recent work by daily recording the passage of time at particular ponds, dykes and marshland which are within easy reach of my studio. I hope to develop this work in a series of new prints using T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets as my inspiration.
Artists at UCLan exhibited work throughout the scheme in a very professional looking corridor exhibition which changed monthly to feature different artists ongoing work. As a result students, staff and visitors were able to see the work of AA2A artists throughout the scheme. This exhibition area was initiated by AA2A Coordinator, Jan Crane and arranged by the technician Tracey Hill. This was a good opportunity to review my work and proved to be a good talking point for students and ArtLab artists.
Collaboration with other AA2A artists
The AA2A artists formed a strong group at UCLan and were regularly in contact with each other and Pete Clarke, (Head of MA Fine Art courses and BA printmaking tutor) during their time on AA2A. The establishment of this group identity, early in the scheme was helped by each artist receiving the contact details of the others, in the AA2A introductory pack, which UCLan provided.
The group has an ongoing life after their AA2A experience, as they are continuing to work together and are planning to exhibit in 18 months time, at the Platform gallery in Clitheroe.
How AA2A has furthered Johns career
Johns time on the scheme has led to several exhibition opportunities including:
Triple Echo, a travelling print exhibition for staff and students of three universities in the North West
Group show at the PAD gallery in Preston, and an exhibition for all the AA2A artists 2008/09 in the PR1 gallery at the UCLan in September 2009.
Since his AA2A scheme John has been involved in collaborative work with poet Ron Scowcroft. They are working on a future publication of poems and prints and some of Johns recent work can be seen on his website under the images section: www.ronscowcroft.co.uk He has also been on solar plate workshops with the American printmaker, Dan Welden at the Bluecoat Print Studio in Liverpool and he intends to explore this method of printmaking more fully with a view to attending one of his study courses in Florence in 2011.
Thanks from AA2A
Our thanks to John and the whole AA2A team at UCLan for their commitment to the project. UCLan were the top scoring AA2A scheme in the country (according to the artists evaluation feedback) with a truly exceptional score. One of their students also won the prize draw for students who voted for their favourite artist - a winning team all round!