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Prize winning practice

Guest posts

Faculty: Arts, Humanities, Education and Social Sciences
School: Cambridge School of Art
Course: BA (Hons) Fine Art
Category: Art and design

13 January 2020

Ashleigh Robinson in grey and green summer dress holding the Supanee Gazeley prize

Winning the Supanee Gazeley prize was the biggest shock I’ve ever had. I still don’t think it’s really sunk in. It’s an amazing thing.

As the prize is just for Fine Art, it’s interesting to see how it gets judged, with everybody doing different things you can’t really judge against each other, so it’s like you’ve been picked out from a huge variety of different art styles.  Winning that prize, it makes you feel valued – seeing that other people understand and appreciate the work you’re doing.

When I was in school, I found people were less encouraged to take on subjects that seem to ‘get you nowhere’.  It’s all academic subjects, where more jobs are available, but on the degree we had to do a lot of presentations, and discussions, and learn to criticise constructively, which builds you as a person and gives you the confidence you need for your future.

The teaching style on the course is not what I expected – it’s so independent.  They let you run wild with your ideas, and what concepts you read into.  They just pull you in with advice and guide you.   They’ll be brutally honest if they need to be, and supportive even if the work isn’t their personal preference.

We had guest artists, like Reece Jones, come in once a week, who present what they have been doing in their practise, and how they got their opportunities, their journey, which inspires you to look at all the different options.

Cambridge is close to London, so it’s really accessible to get to art galleries for research and Cambridge has many of its own galleries too, so it’s a great place for inspiration when you get artists’ block.

Ashleigh Robinson standing in front of her hanging fabric work holding the Supanee Gazely prize,  with head of Cambridge School of Art Dr Harriet Riches.
Detail of Ashleigh Robinson's hanging fabric work in a gallery, with blue spotlight.

For my work I use found materials.  Materials that people wouldn’t usually use - like fabric, and paint on curtains.  They’re quite easy to find anywhere but I mainly get them from charity shops and there are a lot of those around ARU.

I’m hoping to go travelling now, before hopefully coming back to do a teaching degree.  I feel it’s important to go and visit other cultures.  It can influence me as a person and influence my practise as well.  I also want to get some teaching experience in countries where people need more support, like India.

I always wanted to be a teacher.  I’m hoping to teach Art in Secondary Schools.  I feel that art needs to be taught in a way that encourages people to choose it as a path to go down without it being underestimated, or undermined, because it’s really important.  Everybody’s brains work differently and people who can create artwork, or have that creativity and need to express it – it’s important for their well-being.  It’s the way that they’re wired.

Ashleigh Robinson, BA (Hons) Fine Art is the winner of the Supanee Gazeley Prize, 2019.

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Photos show details of Ashleigh Robinson's work and Ashleigh with Dr Harriet Riches, Head of Cambridge School of Art.


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