Student stories – Jane Murdock
OCA Enterprise Grant
In January 2022 I applied for an Enterprise Grant which was split between joining a local studios, and also publicity material as I was due to take part in British Quilt and Stitch Village in April 2022.
This was my first exhibition stand at a show such as this and a decision was subsequently made to include a range of marketable pieces of art and greetings cards: this was done in order to increase our potential audience and promote our artistic business meaning the grant was used solely for this purpose.
The weekend itself was a vast learning experience particularly as due to my fiancé being taken ill meant I did the first day solo. However, that first day also provided a major confidence boost as it forced me to talk about our artistic practice, work and the themes which had continued my work done at undergraduate level on the idealisation of the female body, which also relates to men and all genders.
The interest of the public was one of mixed views: the work shown using corset style carapaces on scaled-down mannequins and mask forms was not pretty but instead raw and forthright as I use fungal and decaying forms to depict the breaking down of the societal expectations on our figures and also the natural decay of age. Disparaging looks from those who walked by I/we rapidly learnt the exhibiting artists response of a polite smile; but these looks were equally balanced by being engaged in often fascinating and lively dialogue with an interested audience – not just with myself but also my fiancé who provided a differing perspective.
The grant, by enabling the partaking of this exhibition, has produced some long-term affects including personally increasing my confidence in exhibiting and engaging with an audience directly but also an understanding knowing that the subject matter is one that is of societal and cultural interest and needs to be continued. Suggestions of how to take this subject forward were forthcoming including that of doing talks: henceforth meaning as we continue to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic these ideas are being enacted upon within our artistic practice as a separate element to current ongoing academic study.
Currently, I am an OCA MA Fine Arts student with my studies continuing to encompass the fungal kingdom albeit as a primary focus rather than as a metaphor for socio-cultural issues. I am nearing the end of the second course at the time of writing during which theoretical and visual research has enabled the development of my artistic work into a multi-disciplinary and multi-sensory practice with a primary underlying narrative of and surrounding mycological awareness.