Rebecca Key - winner of the Public vote 2012

The 2011-2012 scheme at University of Chester was Rebecca's second time on AA2A, having completed her first at Liverpool Community College in 2006. In her work Rebecca uses the placement of objects to examine the relationship between the artist and the gallery space, exploring the mythology that surrounds the creative process, within the institution, and other specific sites. She uses set dressing techniques to transform galleries into places associated with the creative process, so previous installations include: an arts admin office, a group of artist studios, a fake exhibition ready to be hung, and a whole exhibition by fictitious artists.

Rebecca studied Drawing and Painting as an undergraduate at Edinburgh College of Art and gained a MFA in Sculpture there in 2001. After working as an Art Director for the film and television industry Rebecca gained a PGCE from the University of Central Lancashire in 2006 and an M.Res from Liverpool John Moores University in 2008.

After that I went on residencies to New York and Iceland, and had a show in Washington DC I was still transforming spaces focussed on the artistic process. I then began to wonder about the way artists view their work and workspaces and whether this starts in their first studio spaces at college or university. So I thought about the AA2A program and that it would be perfect for this research so following on from the work I did at the FE Liverpool Community College, when I realised that I was eligible to apply again I went for Chester University this also turned out to be the first year they were running the scheme.

Rebeccas Project
During her AA2A placement at Chester Rebecca made six photography works, two large scale 'Drawings', many collaborative diagrams with students, a limited edition artists book and two workbooks.

I talked with the students about their studios and also knowing that Id never see their home workspaces, I got them to describe them while we both blindly drew diagrams of them, then we compared them at the end. We were able to see how my personal frame of reference - say how I might imagine a fireplace in their house as the one I have in mine - how this influenced what I drew and this in turn, also depended on how detailed their description was.

I documented the final year undergrads studio spaces as they changed throughout the year, and also the artists on our scheme. I didnt tell anyone unless they asked me what I was doing none of the artists actually did, and then when I presented the photos the end of the year for the group show, one or two became a bit self conscious and said if they had known I was taking the photos, they would have made more of an effort Im not sure what that meant maybe replacing heat magazine with frieze magazine? Who knows.

Contact with students
During the scheme Rebecca contributed to Making it out there AA2As graduate pack.
Im very interested in what extent the awareness of audience affects the way both students and artists dress their workspaces. Most of the students said that what I was doing made them re-evaluate how they think about their studios and inevitably we would end up critiquing their work that was on display. I got to know the 4th years and most of the 3rd years during my project. Many of them were surprised to find out that you can work lots of part time jobs and still carry on your artwork, and that your paid work can filter into your artwork and vice versa, rather than working in a completely unrelated field. I was self-employed working several jobs for years, so in that respect, having someone to chat to about life after art school, whos working as a practicing artist and who isnt a tutor, can be really beneficial especially for colleges who want to promote the new employability agenda.

With that in mind I wanted to help with the graduate pack too. When I was finishing college, I was once told by a practicing artist friend that for every twenty applications you put in, you get roughly one. So that made me never give up trying. The Arts Council have funded many of my projects now, sending me across the world and for that Im really, really grateful. On leaving the safety of the art school environment, which can sometimes be quite insular and competitive, I just wanted to say to students who were leaving to try and let that go, do their own thing and just keep applying for things and to keep on working as thats really the most important thing.

How AA2A has furthered Rebeccas career
The two research projects I have done have greatly influenced future work. They don't stand alone as AA2A projects, they are just a natural progression of my practice. I have previously used my research towards gaining GFTA funding, and this research project at Chester is a significant development in working towards my residency in Chiang Mai, Thailand at the end of the year.

Rebecca says of AA2A
The scheme at Chester was very good. Really flexible too as I have some health issues which need consideration, I also had an op which knocked me for six so I couldn't come in for a term, but they were very good about it. And the staff and technicians have been amazingly helpful. And I've made friends I'll certainly be keeping in contact with. Ive also learnt to use new computer programs and made a limited edition artists book. The outcomes have formed a really logical progression in my work and the AA2A artists from Chester have exhibited together in Sheffield and Wrexham since.

Id like to thank both Chester University and Artists Access to Art colleges for offering me such a great platform for research and productivity over the last twelve months.. and lets hope in another few years Ill be able to apply again!

More about Rebecca (including more image albums) available on our AA2A Dotbiz networking site.

Selected Exhibitions

  • 'Garage' (with Melodien), Edinburgh Arts Festival, Edinburgh - 2012

  • 'Here/There/Everywhere', Contemporary Art Space Chester, AA2A Scheme, Chester - 2012

  • 'Here/There/Everywhere', Regeneration Through the Arts, Huttons Buildings, Sheffield - 2012

  • 'Island', Eastern Michigan University Gallery and CAVE Gallery,
    Detroit, USA - 2010

  • 'The Superior Council of Higher Beings Presents...'Centre for Icelandic Art, Reykjavk, Iceland - 2010

  • 'Counterfeit', SIM Residency, Korplfsstair, Iceland - 2010

  • 'Archetype', Transformer Gallery, Washington DC, USA - 2010

  • 'Workspaces: AA2A: 2011/12'

    'Students: AA2A: 2011/12'

    'Students: AA2A: 2011/12'

    'Students: AA2A: 2011/12'

    'Students: AA2A: 2011/12'