Francesca Monticelli was announced as the winner of the Gallery Student Art Awards 2016, with a clean sweep of votes from the judging panel. Having just completed her Foundation year at Central St Martins we caught up with her to find out more about her work so far and what the future holds as she’s about to embark on her degree course at the prestigious university.
Congratulations on being this year’s Gallery Student Art Awards winner. Has it sunk in yet?
It hasn’t really sunk in, I still can’t believe it. I wasn’t expecting to win at all, but was just pleased to get as far as showing my work at CCA! It was a wonderful surprise to win, as the entries this year were so strong, and I have such admiration for my fellow artists and their incredible work on show.
Could you explain the process involved behind your winning work?
My work goes through many processes. I enjoy using myself in my art as an expression of self as art rather than just a creator. Performance is a key starting element, allowing me to become my work. It is soon no longer a performance but a way of doing, moving and living in that moment, in the space. This work involved painting my body and creating a costume of plastic bags, before taking a trip around the island to photo shoot in different locations such as the beach, sea, and the muddy woods. My work in the CCA derived from the photographs taken in the woods, where I also created an installation of myself and plastic bags spread across the trees. I then used these photos to create a digital collage, representing an idea based on fantasy, contaminating spaces and multiplying clones of new species or creatures. Parts of this collage are shown in my screen prints at the CCA, which are actually my first attempts at screen printing. I am also passionate about painting and used my abstract painting and a light projector to project my collage onto the painting, before photographically documenting the process.
And what inspired it?
I am fascinated by colour, light and space, and developed this with my interest in psychedelic patterns, fantasy, cell mutation and biological modification and cloning. My favourite artist Janaina Tschäpe, along with Rachel Maclean and Stephen Bush have inspired me to explore techniques such as performance and digital collage in my work.
You feature within the work which you entered in to the awards, is there anyone else you’d like to have a starring role in a future project?
I think I will continue to use myself, as this is an important part of my work, transforming myself into something else, I can become another. In a dream world, I would very much like to work with the artist Janaina Tschäpe, as I feel that we share similar ways of thinking, it would be an honour to have her star in my work. However, I think artist Rachel Maclean would be fun due to her costumes, characters and unique performance style. I feel I would also learn a great deal about filming from her if she had the starring role in my work.
You’ve just completed your foundation year at Central Saint Martins, for those who don’t know, what does that mean?
My Foundation Diploma in Art and Design was a one year course which allowed me to explore and experiment with a range of different areas in art from fashion, textiles, design to performance, to mention a few. I learned new skills, techniques and discovered new ways of working such as collaging, screen printing and used different technologies such as light and slide projectors, which are featured processes in my work.
As art has such a broad range of pathways, foundation is preparation for a more specialised degree course. It really allowed me to discover want I was best at and what aspect of art I enjoyed the most. Often students go into a foundation thinking that they will do a degree in one area of the arts and actually specialize in something different. I went into foundation thinking that I wouldn’t be interested in screen printing but it is a new found love. Foundation has certainly broadened my ideas and makes one view and think about the world in a very different way. It had certainly changed my perspective anyway. I look at things not as they physically stand but as their possibilities – the colours and patterns, how things are positioned and composed. Foundation is very intense, but so far it has been one of the most fun and expressive years of my education.
Now you’re moving on to your degree course, do you think your style of work is likely to change?
I am enjoying creating in this style of work – with many processes and with a variety of media. Of course my work will change as I explore new avenues, technologies and media. Also my interests may change as I develop as a person as well as an upcoming artist. Living most of the year in London, there is always something new to inspire me and drive different ideas, but this is what excites me! I can’t wait to see what the future holds and how I will develop. My work, currently at the CCA is certainly a very important foundation in which my ideas can grow.
How does an average day look for you?
In London, I start my day with yoga and going for a run, before visiting galleries and going to one of my favourite places – the studio at university! I spend so much time there, studying books, creating work and being with my friends. We are usually the last people to leave, the security guards always have to ask us to “Please go home!”. I come back to my halls and often continue working to the early hours of the next morning! I breathe, eat and sleep art!
Studying in London is a big change from being here in Jersey, what do you like most about living and studying in the city?
I have the best of both worlds, the crazy, chaotic London life and my little Jersey, which I am proud to call home! I feel really lucky to study in London, as there is always something to do and amazing opportunities to be had, such as helping out in London’s Fashion Week. I walk down the streets and feel buzzing with energy and inspiration, from the street art, the architecture, sights and the people. London is so culturally diverse. I have met many friends from all over the world, including China, Egypt, France, Abu Dhabi and of course London itself! What I like the most though is visiting the hundreds of art galleries, exhibitions and museums that London has to offer, and finding those art spaces that only a few people know exist – this is the real London, far away from the tourist hustle and bustle. Another incredible part of London is studying at Central Saint Martins, which has the most energetic vibe, with the awesome fashion styles, everyone fuelled with unique ideas and busily making art. I have to pinch myself every time I walk through the gates!
What do you miss most about Jersey when you’re not here?
I love the sea and the beach. If you can’t find me painting or making art then I will be in the water! I really miss scuba diving (not so fun in the Thames), the walks on the beach where I can think and watching the sun going down at St Ouens with my friends.
What made you enter the awards?
I entered the awards because I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to be a part of the creative community in Jersey, to meet new artists and to possibly experience showing my work in the CCA – now a dream come true. May I also say thank you to Gallery and the CCA for this amazing opportunity to show my work, is has been a wonderful experience and an honour to be the winner of the Gallery Student Art Awards 2016.