Made in Arts London – Artist Interviews, Part 1: Esther Gabrielle Kersley; Melitta Nemeth; Rosie Haynes; & Szonja Czutor

The Net Gallery is thrilled to have been able to to collaborate with Arts SU – the students union for University of the Arts London (UAL) students – to capture the Made in Arts London 10th annual exhibition.

Held at London’s TM Lighting Gallery, The Iridescent Collection exhibition features work by over 40 new creatives, all of whom are current UAL students or recent graduates. Encompassing print, photography, illustration, fine art, sculpture, ceramics and fashion, the exhibition showcases the breadth of courses and disciplines followed by UAL students.

A virtual tour of the show is available to view now via The Net Gallery homepage.

Made in Arts London is a not-for-profit enterprise run by Arts SU with the aim of nurturing young talent throughout the early stages of their career. 

In this article, we talk to four artists who feature in the The Iridescent Collection exhibition to learn more about their work and recent experiences. Watch out for Part 2 coming soon, where we’ll talk to four more artists from the show.

Esther Gabrielle Kersley

Untitled 1 by Esther Gabrielle Kersley. Archival Silver Gelatin Print. Edition of 10 + 2 AP (signed and numbered). 50.8 x 40.6 cm (Unframed).

“The piece in the exhibition (Untitled 1) is from the series At Night The Salmon Move which explores our complicated relationship with the natural world. Focusing on texture, the image plays on ambiguity and distortion, concerns that run through my practice. I started making this work during the first lockdown in the UK in March 2020 and was fascinated by the strangely contradictory role nature was playing in the pandemic. Partly inspired by Simon Schama’s line – “Before it can ever by a repose for the senses, landscape is a work of the mind” – I became interested in the double-sided idea we have of nature: our desire to control, own and exploit it on the one hand, but also our wonder and veneration of it, on the other. Untitled 1 was made at Kew Gardens in London. Much of this series was made in botanical gardens and zoos, a symbol of colonialism and empire, they say so much about the West’s relationship to the natural world and the current climate crisis we face today.” Esther Gabrielle Kersley

Discussing the way the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted her understanding of our relationship with nature, Kersley says:

“The experience of the pandemic has had a considerable effect on me. Having lived in big cities my whole life, I was struck by how nature became a refuge and comfort for so many during the lockdowns. But while nature was a source of solace, I noticed it also had another, darker connection to the virus as leaders at the UN, the WHO and WWF International warned that pandemics such as coronavirus are the result of humanity’s destruction of nature: a manifestation of our dangerously unbalanced relationship with the natural world. For me, the pandemic shook not just the idea that we can contain, control and reshape nature as we please but it also revealed how bound up we are with all that is living on our planet. Nature also became a way through which I could express my emotions during this time. Looking back on the work now, I see it as a reflection of the separation, tension and anxiety that lingered over that time.”

You can learn more about Esther Gabrielle Kersley via her website and Instagram, and via the Made in Arts London website.

Melitta Nemeth

Witchcraft by Melitta Nemeth. Oil on canvas. 80 x 60 cm (Unframed).

“Drawing on archival photographs and personal experiences of otherness and misogyny, I examine how to reclaim the female figure. This piece was inspired by an early twentieth century photograph of a female bather and one of a Finnish woman telling the future with a mirror. My aim was to expose the way society demonizes women by attributing dark forces to them. The bodies become fragmented and the background disappears, this way the figures become like archetypes, free from exact time and space, delivering a universal message.” Melitta Nemeth

Explaining further about her understanding of witchcraft, Nemeth says:

“I see the idea of witchcraft as a symptom of misogyny. While calling someone a witch has always been a way of bullying and sometimes served as justification for violent acts, it also reflects a genuine belief that women have certain mysterious knowledge and power. I am interested in challenging the audience by depicting the female figure as a scary, superior force. My Night Bathers series that was exhibited at South London Gallery, continues this line of thought.”

Nemeth’s piece Night Bathers 3 is currently part of London Grads Now. 21 at London’s Saatchi Gallery.

You can learn more about Melitta Nemeth via her website and Instagram, and via the Made in Arts London website.

Rosie Haynes

Hold Me (1) by Rosie Haynes. Digital collage on Epson Semi Gloss. Edition of 5. 39 x 45 x 56 cm (not incl. white border). Unframed.

“For this exhibition, I chose to display my work Hold Me (1), which is a print made using digital collage. I made this series inspired by the high romanticism of the classic Hollywood era of the 1940s and 1950s, which dealt in this very beautiful and extreme but often very shallow and hollow notion of romance. I’m interested in how this relates to the extremes of femininity at the time, how performative it was. My practice as a whole explores the tension between being drawn to this hyper-femininity on one level but recognising its empty, problematic nature on another.” Rosie Haynes

Having graduated in 2020 with a BA in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins, Haynes says that the experience of beginning her career during the Covid-19 pandemic has been challenging:

“I’ve found it to be incredibly difficult, it was a tough time to graduate and I’m yet to hear word of a graduation ceremony let alone a degree show for my year, unfortunately. The feeling of going into the unknown, which is inevitable with a career in the arts, has only been amplified by the isolation of lockdown, and having to move from London back to my family home in the Midlands, which has made me feel at times cut off from the art world. Participating in Made in Arts London has helped in navigating that transition because it’s a great instance of bringing together a community of artists from diverse locations, and provides a platform to help us begin our careers. It’s opportunities like the current exhibition that are a great example of the platform Made in Arts London provides.” 

You can learn more about Rosie Haynes via her website and Instagram, and via the Made in Arts London website.

Szonja Czutor (SZUGAR)

Bloody Brexit by Szonja Czutor (SZUGAR). Acrylic on Canvas. 40 x 50 cm (unframed).

“My painting is called Bloody Brexit. First, I decided to leave the piece without comment because the title and the image tell everything that I feel about Brexit. But now, it is the time to talk and tell the pain that inspired me to make the piece. I have a fiancé. Someone I am trying to have babies with. A man, who lives 1400 miles away and cannot move to the UK. The love of my life, I see 3 times a year. Will they ever ease the rules, so I can keep living in the country I love the most? Together with the man, I love the most.” Szonja Czutor

Currently studying for a BA in Fashion Design and Development at London College of Fashion, Czutor explains:

“I have always used clothing as a way of expressing myself. Fashion is a form of art, garments are wearable masterpieces. My BA course lets me explore all areas in fashion. It lets me be creative, unique and experimental, as well as teaching me the most important business skills I need to be a successful professional and entrepreneur.” 

You can learn more about Szonja Czutor (SZUGAR) via their Instagram, and via the Made in Arts London website.

Article and interviews by Richard Unwin.

The virtual tour of the The Iridescent Collection exhibition is available to view, here.

Visit the Arts SU and Made in Arts London websites for more information.

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