Q&A with Liberty Cheverall

August 3, 2021
11:59 am
Kitty Bew

Liberty Cheverall is the recipient of the 2021-22 Cass Art x Phoenix Art Space Studio Award and will enjoy a year of free studio space from September.

Find out more about Liberty and her practice below.

You are the winner of the 2020-21 Cass Art & Phoenix Studio Award! How do you feel about having your own dedicated studio space to work from?

LC: As someone who has just graduated through a pandemic, I am very aware of the importance a studio brings to my work. Having spent a lot of time working in the same environment I was living in was very difficult and unproductive. I feel incredibly grateful to have a creative space to work in without financial pressure, and the ability to dedicate thoughts and time to one area is something I will always need as an artist. Not only for my artistic progression, but also for my routine and mental health.

It really will help elevate and prioritise my work. Being around other creatives and having a space near other inspirational and talented artists is something that is really important to me and my critical art practice, especially as it often involves audience interactions. I would love to experiment with scale and having a space to do that is something which will allow me to explore and progress is exciting.

I am conscious of the struggles of post university employment, so to have this studio for free will grant me a step up in my career and another year to perfect and refine everything I make. So, I would like to say how truly thankful I am to Cass Art and Phoenix Art Space for this award.

Tell us a little about your practice.

LC: I am a multimedia artist who predominantly makes sculptures, installations and illustrations. Recently I have established a technique of tufting to create textile-based artworks, distinctively relating to everyday negative thoughts. I specifically identify how these reflections, can become larger issues when built up over time.

I focus on how these small issues can create such a significant impact on the general public’s mental health and what it is that influences these emotions. My most recent artwork Elsie’s Playhouse, uncovers underlying mental health issues in our society and advertises the impact of darkness and voids people feel when it all ‘gets too much’.

I often use contrasting materials to create meaning, and my artworks can combine found objects with newly created forms to reflect both familiarity and uncertainty. I also appreciate workshops as a way of gathering research, and to build a community within the works themselves.

How have you found your final year of Fine Art Sculpture at Brighton University?

LC: Difficult but rewarding. The start of the academic year was hard to process and making a decision whether to defer due to the pandemic or to see it through was something I considered greatly. Deciding to go ahead was the decision I made and I might not have won this award if I didn’t.

It started with an exhibition given to me through the Artists Open Houses Bursary and the Hannington Lane developments, which was continuously postponed and delayed. I was so conscious of how important this show was, but the experience proved my resilience and adaptability. Then to be in another national lockdown until March made studios inaccessible, and for me working from home was mind-numbing. Within that period, I had an unhealthy relationship with work and rest, which is why having a studio is so important to me.

Even with such a difficult year, I have been very vocal about mental health, not just my own but those around me, and I really don’t think I would have made the work I did without the struggles I and many others faced. I missed the social aspect of my final year of University, but I am proud to have made it through and am excited to meet amazing artists with this opportunity.

The Fine Art Sculpture course itself has been incredibly educational and the frequent group critiques and audience interaction that the course offered was really important. To have a course that open’s your mind on what a sculpture really is, was a part I loved. I had the freedom to experiment and question and understand what direction my practice was leading towards.

Having such a small class was one of the benefits to my university experience. It created intimate relationships with one another and more time with personal tutors. We had the studio space that allowed me to elevate and explore (most of my friends on other courses didn’t have) and incredible staff. I am so appreciative of my head of course Suzanne Hutchinson and my year tutor Ole Hagen for providing advice, feedback and motivation throughout this year. As well as a huge thank you to the technical staff, especially Helen Stewart. I am sad that the course won’t be around much longer as it is expanding to a less specialist fine art course, however with the same leaders and support, the course will always be great.

The thing that I can only assume every graduate of this year felt was the lack of closure. We were unable to have our in-person degree show, and as an artist who predominantly makes three dimensional/installation based artwork, an in-person viewing is the final presentation the work needs and more often than not, part of the work itself. However the ability to learn and produce work for an online exhibition is something I have never done before and allowed us to understand the importance of documentation.

The last year has been a rollercoaster, I am very proud of myself and everyone on my course for the work we have produced. I really think our year had an amazing group of talented artists, I can’t wait to see what we are all going to do next.

What are your creative plans / ambitions for the coming year?

LC: I want to create an identity and brand for my artwork. I want to make and not stop making. I want to learn how to work outside of university deadlines and instead make my own. I love workshops and making communities for myself and others too, I like using people to help with relevant research and that is something I will probably do forever. I want to exhibit – that is a priority this year. I don’t want the pressures of real life to stop me from making. Getting this award has really proven to me that you do not have to stop the art you love when university ends. I want to be honest with my artwork – as that is always what makes me produce my best – and I just want to keep going.

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