talent nurtured at art school can blossom into professional success? It’s something that
those taking part in this year’s Spring Fling mentoring programme have been discussing.
Many careers have ladders. These allow the up-and-coming to develop skills, knowledge,
experience and qualifications they need, enabling them to pass from academic
institutions into professional practice. Art graduates often have a different experience.
Some struggle for years to gain a slender foothold, others end up in jobs which make
only limited use of their abilities and a fair few abandon their dreams altogether.
Indeed 23-year-old 3D artist Holly Clothier, who was awarded one of the two places
on this year’s mentoring scheme, told us that her search for appropriate work after
graduating from Loughborough University was disheartening. Eventually she put
everything up in the attic and thought “well, that’s it over”.
|Work by Holly Clothier|
The mentoring has restored Holly’s hope. She has been working with sculptor Lucianne
Lasalle who has helped her develop the kind of business and networking skills that are
essential for a self-employed artist. Both Holly and Lucianne believe that mentoring of
this kind should be widely available to art and craft graduates to help them set up in
business after their university degrees.
|Fragmented Venus by Lucianne Lasalle|
Lucianne describes the graduates as “fledgling birds” which have to be encouraged or
they may fall from the nest and never fly. A bit of support from fellow artists who know
the ropes can make all the difference, allowing Scotland to maximise the economic,
cultural and social benefits that artists can provide.
Visual and mixed media artist Denise Zygadlo, who started her career at Courthaulds,
has been working with 24-year-old Laura Perry who trained in textile design at Glasgow
School of Art. Denise firmly believes that mentoring can make a difference as graduates
struggle to adapt to a new world which is very different from anything they experienced
|Work by Denise Zygadlo|
A major attraction of our mentoring programme is the chance to take part in Spring
Fling – Scotland’s premier open studios visual art and craft event. One of Denise’s
objectives has been to ensure that Laura is ready to take advantage of this opportunity
to showcase her work in front of a wide audience. It’s very practical stuff – for example
what products are likely to sell and how to price them.
Laura, who will use Spring Fling to show a range of printed silk scarves, and other items,
created with bold geometric designs and unpredictable colours, has learned a huge
amount from Denise. She says the ideas, perspectives and experience that an established
artist, with experience in a similar field, can pass on is invaluable.
The Spring Fling mentoring programme, which is funded by The Dumfries and Galloway
LEADER Programme and The Holywood Trust, is now in its second year and is open
to new graduates with close links to Dumfries and Galloway. Thanks to the Holywood
Trust we also have the support to run it again in 2014 and 2015.
That’s excellent news for those who get places, but there is clearly a demand for
mentoring to be available to many others as well. And our experience is that there is
no shortage of established artists who have already blazed the trail, who are only too
delighted to smooth the path for the next generation.
To find out more about our mentors and graduates visit the Spring Fling website at