Monday, 24 March 2014

Past School Work Experience at Blott

As Director of Blott Artist Studios, artist Corrine Streetly has spent many years spreading the word about art and artists in Blackpool, and encouraging young talents to become involved in the art and culture scene.  As we approach this year's annual Blott exhibition, we have been reflecting on past members and volunteers.  

Natalie Percival and Becky Davies tell us here what it was like for them as school work experience girls at Blott Artist Studios.  

Becky Davies confessed that at sixteen she wasn't really interested in any of the numerous businesses connected with her school for work experience, and veered more towards something artistic - the path she was hoping to follow at college and university after sitting her art GCSE later that year.  As her mother had connections with Blott Art Studio, this seemed an obvious choice for a creative young girl.  

Working at Blott gave Becky the unique opportunity to talk to a range of artists, discover what inspired them and how they actually produced their work. She enjoyed learning about different methods and was even treated to a few lessons on drawing techniques.  She immersed herself in the art and says she loved to hear the stories behind the images and objects that she was selling.  Becky explained that she learned how to communicate properly with potential customers and basics such as how to use a Mac properly.  Whilst she was there Jenny Bennet, a previous Blott artist, made a paper dress which Becky was thrilled to model.
Becky Davies, modelling the paper dress

Finally, Becky told us the time spent at Blott was a wonderful learning opportunity, a great training ground, which subsequently helped her get jobs, college and eventually university placements.

Natalie Percival at Blott
Natalie Percival, featured right, says she really wished for a placement at Blott due to her love of art and design. She wanted to be in a creative environment, and she wasn't disappointed as it turned out to be exactly that. Natalie loved the fact that she was welcomed into the studio and was "immediately surrounded by creative minds and brilliant artists." She thoroughly enjoyed her time at Blott, which gave her some exciting ideas for an artistic future. Having completed her placement, she was sure that she wanted to continue with the creative arts and so went on to complete a National Diploma in Art & Design. 

Natalie's oil painting from her time at Blott
Natalie told me, "During my work placement at Blott Artist Studios, as well as working in the gallery and speaking to visitors, I was given an introduction to oil painting with Corrine Streetly. Having never worked with oil paint before I found it very useful to learn from such an experienced artist, and I learned many useful tips and tricks that I still use today. Overall it was a brilliant experience and I really enjoyed it. It also helped me to make the decision about studying in the creative arts. I am currently in my first year of a BA Illustration course at Blackpool & the Fylde College, and also volunteer at Blott each Saturday. I am looking forward to meeting more of the artists involved with the studios at the exhibition in the near future!"

Natalie says she felt volunteering in the gallery would be a further opportunity to be in an ever changing creative workspace and to meet like minded people.  As a bonus, she would also be giving back to the community in a way that is personal to her.

Regrettably, Blott Artist Studios is no longer able to offer school placements for work experience, due to logistics and the demands of administration within the collective.  Opening times are now subject to the availability of Blott's volunteers.  

However, on a more postive note there are other opportunities available in the local Blackpool arts scene. But for Becky and Natalie it seems their placements were an excellent grounding in art and design and set them off on creative paths that may well eventually lead to bigger and better artistic achievements. Both girls had nothing but praise for Corrine and the Studio and look back on their time there with a great deal of fondness and gratitude.