Fine Art graduates Emily Hett (2019) and Grace Stones (2018) have been announced as the new ABF Step Change Fellows at Loughborough University for 2019-2020.
The ABF (established as the Artists’ Benevolent Fund over 200 years ago) Step Change Programme has been designed to support emerging and talented artists so that they can develop their practice within the guiding environment of an art school or college.
ABF Coordinator, Tessa Jackson OBE, states: “ABF’s partnership with Loughborough University provides graduates with a stipend, facilities and mentoring in order that they can really establish their creative careers.”
The Fellows are based in the Fine Art Programme in the School of Design and Creative Arts. They have studio space, access to workshops and the teaching and learning programme. They are also embedded within, and active contributors to, developing the studio culture in Fine Art. This includes supporting undergraduates through peer-to-peer learning in group tutorials and by sharing their experiences in more informal contexts.
One of the fellows, Emily Hett, said of the news: “I am very excited to be returning to Loughborough University to work alongside students, technicians and staff within the fine art studio setting.”
“The support from both the ABF and Loughborough will allow me to focus solely on establishing a professional practice and enable me to continue to push the boundaries of my sculptural work by exploring different methods and materials.”
Grace Stones added: “I have been trying to juggle part time jobs, applying for exhibitions, volunteering and making art work. This opportunity has enabled me to believe in myself again.”
“I am honoured, proud and so excited for the year ahead. I hope I can help other students to see the importance of studio culture, so they can use it to their full potential.”
Dr Antoinette Burchill, a University Teacher in Fine Art and the ABF Step Change Programme Manager for Loughborough University commented: “Emily and Grace are both rising to the challenge of developing their professional art practices through this Fellowship. Both Fellows are simultaneously leaning into the joy of making whilst confronting the difficulties they encounter by escalating their ideas and ambitions. I have no doubt that this will be a transformational year for them.”
Director of Undergraduate Studies within the School, Dr Deborah Harty said: “The characteristics the Fellows demonstrate: determination, optimism and resilience are helping Fine Art undergraduates comprehend their studies with a new perspective and focus on their professional practice, which will be so important to them as they graduate.”
Follow the Fellows’ journey on Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #ABFStepChangeLboro and via their project blogs below:
ABF’s Step Change Programme, first established in 2017, identified a need for emerging artists to have greater support following art school. The partnership between Loughborough University and ABF has grown out of post-doctoral research by Dr Antoinette Burchill in her AHRC Creative Economy Engagement Fellowship at The CAMEo Research Institute, University of Leicester, in partnership with Contemporary Visual Arts Network East Midlands (CVAN EM) during 2019. The project, It Takes A Region To Raise An Artist investigated the East Midlands’ visual arts creative economy and its cultural infrastructure. This new research identified a regional lack in developmental/creative industries support for 18 to 34-year-old visual arts practitioners. ABF’s Step Change Programme helps to redress this gap in support for Loughborough graduates. Dr Burchill is also a Fine Art University Teacher at Loughborough University.