Arts Hub would like to welcome our new Starting Out columnist for 2005, Laureen Landsdown. Starting Out is the column where each year, an industry newcomer gets to share the highs and lows, joys and pitfalls of getting started in the arts. If you’re an established practitioner and can offer a helping hand or a word of encouragement at any time, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Laureen or to give her a boost with a ‘Your Say’.
Welcome to my first ‘Starting Out’ column. For those of you who don’t know me, which would be the majority, my name is Laureen Lansdown. I’m an emerging artist and I’ll be keeping you informed of my adventures and experiences in the art world month-by-month until the end of the year.
I thought I might start off by giving you some background information for those interested, I am recent graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts majoring in Drawing. Prior to this I completed a Diploma of Visual Arts at RMIT, I will be undertaking my Honours year at the VCA and I am glad to say, this is my final year of study for a long time.
I had my first solo show in 2001 and have participated in several group shows throughout Melbourne over the following years. I have received a small number of grants & awards; the Tania Brougham Award, The Friends of the VCA Grant and Development & Public Affairs Grant VCA. I have several works in private collections throughout Melbourne, Fiona Myer private collection, University of Melbourne, Tania Brougham and Felicity & Stuart Carter private collection. Last year I curated and coordinated Proud 2004, an annual exhibition held in the VCA Gallery supported by the VCA Student Union.
I have been actively involved with the VCASU, fighting the politics facing the state of higher education and the affects it will have on the VCA student body. I became a VCASU Council member last year, as the School of Art Representative and will be continuing with the role this year. Other than that, I have worked as a waitress, events assistant, envelope stuffer and now as a part time supervisor at an unnamed, but well known retail chain store for the past five years to support my arts education and practice.
So here is a brief summary of what is on my calendar for 2005. I’ll be undertaking (and graduating) from Honours and, once again, I’ll be part of the VCASU as School of Art Representative advocating on behalf of the students. In May my work will be going to Perth as part of an exhibition titled Hatched 2005, at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art, which is an exhibition housing the works of selected recent graduates from Fine Art Institutes all over Australia.
Then in June/July I’ll be venturing to Florence and Venice for the first time to see primarily the Venice Biennale and to explore the glorious museums and galleries within the provinces. On my travels I will also stop in Norway to document and research ‘the midnight sun’ in the northern region of Tromso for my art practice and honours project, which will be a surreal and amazing experience that I’m sure I’ll never forget. I also hope to make it to Oslo for some culture and further research.
In September Proud 2005 will have arrived, an exhibition I’m curating that showcases the talent of current VCA Art students. As coordinator/ curator I urge you all to check it out. It’s a great opportunity to see, on mass, the talent within the Art School, and to purchase some great artworks for reasonable prices. Oh, and let’s not forget applying for grants, scholarships and proposals for future exhibitions, which all comes hand-in-hand. So, it seems I will be extremely busy this year juggling a multitude of events and projects. You know what…if I really think about it, what I’ve learnt over the past five years of studying and exhibiting is that as an artist you need to be both multi-skilled and talented to survive out there in the real world. I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for learning the art of ‘multi skilling’-being able to juggle studies, actual paid work and my arts practice.
Most art students and emerging artists I know have been doing this from day one, juggling study and work (meaning actual paid work) to facilitate there profession because how else are we, as artists, supposed to survive? Once we graduate from Art School there is no guaranteed job placement or regular income as, say, a Law student may have once they graduate. I mean, if you are lucky enough to be signed, which, if you look at the percentage of artists likely to be signed by commercial galleries is quite low, but this just makes me love what I do even more. As artists, we need to apply our skills within other areas of the art world in order to facilitate our essential profession.
Yeah I may be poor for the rest of my life but I’ll be happily poor, if you know what I mean?
At present, I’m in the process of arranging or, should I say, applying for funding to support my research expedition to Venice and Norway. What I really need to do is to sell more work. Then I would be fine. At present, my part-time job barely gives me any work so, I really can’t put aside all that much money towards my trip.
Currently I have two artworks in the Linden Gallery Annual Post Cards Exhibition. So if you’re in Melbourne and want to check out what kind of work I do you’ll be able to see a very small selection of my practice. As I am yet to create a website showcasing my work, which I have a legitimate excuse for as I simply am not skilled in that area, but hope to be by the end of the year, I’ll keep you informed.
Well I hope that my columns may be of some interest for someone out there in the wide world of art.