Reflections on Platform Graduate Award 2018 by Annie Le Santo

The Platform Graduate Award is an annual region-wide project created to support new graduate talent across the south east of England. The initiative supports emerging artists to develop their practice, offering the unique opportunity to hold a solo exhibition and work with professionals in the art field.

Oxford Brookes University graduate, Annie Le Santo held a solo exhibition at Modern Art Oxford this September as part of Platform. In her blog post, Le Santo reflects on how being in Platform has helped her identify new connections between her art practice and personal history.

Around this time last year, I had just started my final year of university studying Fine Art. I arrived back to a white studio space with an empty table and unadorned walls. I had seven or so months stretched ahead of me. At the end of this, the most important event of the three year course awaited – the degree show.

I tried to start the year without hesitation, trying to use the absence of ideas to my advantage. In unknown territory, after previously making work that grew from an initial concept, the thought of starting without the safety blanket of a plan felt unnerving. Despite this, without any preconceived thoughts, I got hold of some clay and began to make.

I quickly began constructing hollow vessels by coiling strips of soft clay into rounded shapes. They were misshapen, uneven and distant from any form of artisan pottery. Far from it, they became seashells to listen to, bone-like containers, pockets of space and holders of emptiness. They became tools to hold fabric, to contain liquid, to pour liquid, to play with, to experiment and ultimately they became acoustic chambers. In this newfound way of working, I let the making do the thinking for me.

Fast forward to May 2018 and my work had developed into a resolved piece consisting of a number of different elements, all of which focused on the materiality of the making. Examining the human processes regarding loss and change, the pieces all held a soft kind of rawness in physical texture and in construction. ‘Latent’ examines the sense of absence, with an abstract reference to the emergency stretcher bed. The fabric bows as though encumbered by a body and the metal handles jar outwards at hip height, inviting themselves to be lifted. Absence, loss and the sense of being a bystander in the aftermath of change are all things which then became the themes of this work. These only became readable in my own consciousness in the final months of making. Through my work with materials physically, seeds were sown amongst my thoughts and I began to make connections to my personal history.

Annie Le Santo, Latent, 2018. Image courtesy the artist.

Upon reflection, I do not think I would have made the connections to these unconscious threads without being selected for the Platform Award. To be asked to show the work again for the exhibition at Modern Art Oxford was a major opportunity. The work felt at home in Modern Art Oxford. It granted me time to reconsider curatorial aspects in a new space but also the reasons why I had created this work in the first place. As a result I feel a greater understanding of my methodology, more connected emotionally to the work and myself as an artist.

Words by Annie Le Santo, artist and Platform Graduate Award 2018 participant. Annie graduated with a BA in Fine Art Oxford at Brookes University this year.

The exhibition, Lying in Wait by Annie Le Santo took place at Modern Art Oxford between 19 – 30 September

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