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  • Lea Rose Kara

2018 PMSA Mentoring Experience

Having always been quite table-bound in school, I was keen to experiment with making sculptures, both large and small. In 2017, PMSA discovered me during my Foundation show at City and Guilds of London Art School and soon after offered me the amazing funded opportunity to be on their 2018 PMSA mentoring programme where I would be mentored by none other than the Vice President of Royal Society of Sculptors: Julian Wild- you can imagine my excitement!

Sculpture from my Foundation Show: Moment of Growth, mild steel, 180cm x109cm x 84cm, 2017. Currently exhibiting at The Sculpture Park in Farnham.

I was keen to learn about the alien world of public sculpture and really wanted to take the opportunity to gain as much experience and knowledge from Julian as I could. My mentorship consisted of several visits to his studio near London, accompanying him to meetings as well as having informalcatch ups to discuss our own projects.

Some of my favourite and most insightful mentorship moments were when I accompanied Julian to a business meeting and helped him construct a commissioned artwork in his studio.

Shadowing Julian in the meeting about an exhibit at a famous Flower Show, between him, a landscape designer and a floral designer, gave me an insight of what to expect and how to approach a collaboration project with other professionals. It was interesting to see the different aspects that had to be considered in order for the collaboration to be successful, such as solving the finances, managing time for the collaboration to occur, applying within set deadlines and organising the paper work. As a sculptor, Julian’s contribution was his knowledge of the materials and the possible sculpture he could create to highlight the garden’s design. One of the main things I took away from the meeting was the importance of clarifying your ideas and being confident about your practice. It is however, also important to be open to manipulating your concepts to fit the wider theme and being aware of others’ practices and their needs, as well as dedicating time to perfect the project and execute it to the highest level possible.

Equally, I really enjoyed helping Julian create his commissioned sculpture in his studio. Having never worked on such a complicated large sculpture before, it was interesting to see Julian’s approach to welding the three different sections together to create the illusion of bends and twists in the centre of the form. Capturing the making process through documentative form of photography and video is quite pertinent within my own practice and I love that myself and Julian had recorded the way we interacted with the piece, and its presence within his studio, in a short time-lapse film.

Part of my mentoring was watching Julian use different machines to smooth and polish the sculpture’s surface, which was required before the piece could be painted. All the joints had to be perfected to give the illusion that the geometric form consisted of a continuous piece of metal, rather than individual sections. Julian taught me how to use a sand-disk with a grinder to smooth out the welded seams in each joint. By using the machine I was able to understand the process Julian when through and the type of smooth finish he was looking for. It’s interesting because, by working with Julian and learning all of the techniques of how to create an immaculate surface, I had precisely realised the importance of texture within my own work and the significance of celebrating the processes I put the material through. 

Being mentored by someone is not about coming out the other end as a mini-version of them but about learning and understanding what works for your own practice and what is the next best step in your artistic journey. One thing however, that myself and Julian do share, is being a perfectionist and never taking “that’s not possible” for an answer!

I am incredibly grateful to PMSA for giving me this opportunity and to Julian Wild for being my 2018 mentor, it has truly been an invaluable experience. I have gained a lot of confidence thanks to the mentoring scheme and have already started working and being mentored by artists abroad. Last summer I was fully funded to live in Venice for a month and a half, where I organised to work with three amazing artists: Moulaye Niang (a glass artist), Matteo Lo Greco (a sculptor) and Roberto Mazzetto (a printmaker)!

All images are copyright and may not be used without the artist’s permission.


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