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Fine Art alumnae awarded with new painting fellowship to develop their practice

Fine Art alumnae awarded with new painting fellowship to develop their practice

The prestigious 2024 Freelands Studio Fellowship presents three Manchester School of Art alumnae talents

22 February 2024

Tia Taylor Berry, Rachel Wharton, and Lou Blakeway, will receive mentoring and studio space at a host university and a grant of £24,000.

The Freelands Studio Fellowship offers a significant opportunity for those who are early in their career. It provides an environment in which an artist and art students can build a symbiotic relationship within the studio. The Fellowship provides all Fellows with significant career-enhancing opportunities. They receive access to a studio at a host university, mentoring sessions with a member of teaching staff and a grant. They also benefit from developing their teaching practice by leading tutorials and lectures. 

Manchester School of Art will welcome Freelands Studio Fellow Pippa El-Kadhi Brown. Pippa studied for her undergraduate degree at the University of Brighton before completing a Masters in Painting at the Royal College of Art in 2022. 

Upon completion of their Fellowship, each artist will exhibit the work they have developed in a solo exhibition.  

Dr Alison Slater, Head of Department of Art and Performance said: “As we welcome our 2024 Freelands Studio Fellow, we are delighted to see three of our alumnae taking up the six available Freelands Studio Fellowships in 2024. It’s fantastic to see the Department of Art and Performance and Manchester School of Art represented so comprehensively across the network of six universities involved."

“The School of Art has a rich commitment to mentoring painting at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels within our Fine Art offer and we maintain support for our students' practices as graduates beyond the institution through our connections and opportunities in the field, such as the annual Freelands Studio Fellowship."

“Congratulations to Manchester School of Art alumnae Tia Taylor Berry, Rachel Wharton, and Lou Blakeway on their successful applications and we look forward to following their practice and professional developments this year.” 

To exist in spaces of Magick. 400X250cm. Tia Taylor Berry.
To exist in spaces of Magick. 400X250cm. Tia Taylor Berry.

Tia Taylor Berry graduated from the Manchester Art School in 2021 and has continued her rich explorations in the notion of spiritual space. She defines this as a space that exists beyond one's perceptual awareness and is concerned with notions of magic and something other. Tia will be hosted by Gray’s School of Art, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen this year. 

 “For me, the Freelands Fellowship means the precious gift of time and knowledge. The time I’m given with this Fellowship means I can deepen my commitment to developing my artistic practice as well as expanding my understanding of the role of the artist within the arts sector and educational institutions."

“The Fellowship has given me the ability to access technical workshops, studio space and mentorship to realise my artistic ambitions and to create artworks that I have been unable to develop due to lack of space, resources, and technical support. During the time I will spend at Grays School of Art as the Freelands Fellow I will focus on the production of multiple large-scale wall paintings, interventions and on the creation of my own abstract artist tarot deck ‘Chromatic visions’.” 

Pigeon, 2022.100x100cm, Oil on calico. Rachel Wharton
Pigeon, 2022.100x100cm, Oil on calico. Rachel Wharton

Since graduating from the Manchester School of Art in 2021, Rachel Wharton’s work looks at the figuration of the landscape and how it can direct openings of space within painting. Her Freelands Fellowship at Belfast School of Art, Ulster University provides her the opportunity to live and work in a new location offering fresh creative encounters:

“There is a different feel to every art institute, whether it is its size, the research pursued by its staff, or its geographical location. Ulster University School of Art is in a very modern building and from the 7th floor you have panoramic views across the city out to the mountains. Paradoxically, you are rooted and detached. Place, infrastructure, and concepts of landscape have always been a focus of mine. With the support of my mentors Dougal McKenzie and Louise Wallace, I want to understand how my research and my work can become more intertwined, especially with the prospect of a solo show at the end of the residency. I want the show and the work to feel like I have done justice to the place I will have called home for the year.” 

Rape in Culture, 2023. Oil on canvas, 80x130cm. Lou Blakeway
Rape in Culture, 2023. Oil on canvas, 80x130cm. Lou Blakeway

2023 Manchester School of Art graduate, Lou Blakeway's work has developed with a focus on contemporary and historical ideas of womanhood. She centres her explorations around themes of motherhood, and how societal and political constraints dictate how women ought to behave. Her year hosted by the School of Art and Media, University of Brighton will give her an opportunity to explore these areas of research more critically and in greater depth. 

“I’m excited by the chance to have in-depth conversations and debates about the current issues in painting, having a critical understanding of practice will bring validity and ambition to my work."

 “I would like to thank the Freelands Foundation for this huge opportunity. To have freedom, both financial and time, is critical. It is an honour to be supported by a Foundation that also recognises the career difficulties faced by artists who are mothers, I am keenly engaged in their current research in this area.” 

Find out more about the Freelands Fellowship and this year’s artists here: