Interview with Graduate Resident Artists, Sarah Hawkins and Kornelia Harris


Interview by Wil Law, Art House Volunteer, September 2014

Recent graduates, Kornelia Herms (Staffordshire University) and Sarah Hawkins (Leeds College of Art) were invited with Edward Grant (Leeds College of Art) to undertake a residency at The Art House during August 2014. They’ve just had the work they’ve created during the residency exhibited and now they’re ready to move on. Just before they left I spoke to Kornelia and Sarah about they’re experiences here and what they’re next step is.

What they expected from their time at The Art House

For both Kornelia and Sarah, The Art House was their first residency and they both came with not too many expectations and were open minded to the experience. They both wanted to use the residency to create new contacts and meet new people who would hopefully give them new ideas and pave the way for new opportunities.

Kornelia had sort of an idea of the art she wanted to create during the residency, continuing her paintings which work with layers. Specifically, she wanted to try working on unstretched canvas, but other than that was open to any inspiration the experience might bring.

“I came with an open mind, being keen to respond to an environment and area I am unfamiliar with”- Kornelia

Sarah had a loose idea of what she was going to work on during the residency, knowing that she wanted to use objects from the area that she could craft into sculptural artwork.

How they have both found their time at The Art House

Sarah expressed how the residency gave her freedom, and particularly enjoyed being away from a formal education environment, where she didn’t have to worry about grades, which can sometimes restrict creativity.

“It was nice to make for the sake of making, the relaxed nature of the residency really allowed me to do this”- Sarah

 Kornelia found the residency, her first time working away from home, very helpful. She stated that the experience it gave her of residency work was invaluable and particularly enjoyed being in Wakefield and traveling to the surrounding areas, where she had never been before. The Art House helped Kornelia get back into working and regularly creating art. 

“I had break between completing my degree and beginning the residency, and had got used to not painting regularly. The residency really got me back into the everyday working routine”- Kornelia

Both Kornelia and Sarah stated that they would definitely do more residencies, after having such a good experience at The Art House. It gave them the confidence to go about seeking new opportunities in the sector. They also mentioned how useful the mentoring from David and session from Leslie had been, giving them the practical information and skills that their experience of studying art at degree level had missed, such as how to approach commissions.  

What about Wakefield and how it inspired them?

“My sculptural work is absolutely dependent on Wakefield as every piece within the installation I created was either composed of an object found in the city or directly inspired by an object seen in the area.”-Sarah

Although all of Sarah’s work would be entirely unique to, and dependant on, the place it was created, whether Wakefield or not, she found being in a different city from where she is based particularly useful. She also mentioned how, unlike Leeds or Manchester, the smaller scale of Wakefield forced her to spend a lot of vital time within the studio, increasing her productivity.

Although, unlike Sarah, Kornelia’s work was not dependent on the city, she stated that Wakefield certainly influenced the paintings that she created, particularly the buildings. She experienced the city’s architecture, interpreted what it represented to her and then projected this into the art that she showcased at the exhibition.

What next?

The two both expressed an interest in doing more residencies, or even studying a Masters in the future, and now feel like they have the confidence to do this. Kornelia is returning to her rented studio space in Airspace gallery, Stoke, and plans to continue the type of art she has been working on at The Art House. She is also taking her exhibition work to Wirksworth Festival, an arts and architecture trail, next weekend. Sarah plans to continue making in the free, temporary studio space that she was awarded for 6 months in East Streets Arts, Leeds. She looks forward to doing more of the same and continuing making sculptures like the ones she crafted whilst at The Art House