Andrew Bowen is a participant in the AHEH project and one of two Fine Art graduates from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) to have won places on the Artists Benevolent Fund’s Step Change Fellowship Programme. The programme provides sponsorship funding to help graduates who have experienced disadvantages through social, economic or cultural circumstances to help to launch, sustain and develop their careers as fully committed artists.
We asked Andrew what this opportunity means to him and how his involvement with the AHEH project has contributed to his success.
Can you introduce yourself and provide a brief summary of your practice and interests?
Hello, my name is Andrew Bowen. I’m a recent graduate of UWTSD’s Fine Art: Studio, Site and Context Undergraduate program and currently a Fellow of the same institution in association with Artists Benevolent Fund. My practice consists of many mediums, with an emphasis on the three dimensional and an underlying post-pop aesthetic. I’m currently interested Welsh culture, both historical and contemporary, and am working towards a body of work in response to this avenue of thought.
Congratulations on securing a graduate fellowship at Swansea College of Art, UWTSD. What is the fellowship offering that you think will be of most value or help to you?
Thank you! I am beyond chuffed, [Eds. note: This is a Welsh colloquial term for very happy!] when I heard the news I was walking through Rhossilli Bay’s sunflower fields, it was the perfect pre-lockdown day. If you had asked me this question back in autumn I would have said Swansea Collage of Art’s fantastic facilities, the woodworking, metalworking, printmaking, life drawing, library access and (most specifically) the phenomenal ceramics facilities and generous studio space at my disposal, not to mention the help of some amazing technical staff. But, as is the situation with most people now that God has grounded us all for making a mess of the planet, post-lockdown 3.0 life gives new found value to the fellowship. It’s the financial aid that has helped the most, allowing me to only have to work part time while I conceptualise, make and create in my makeshift studio (the kitchen).
What are you hoping to achieve this year and how will the fellowship support you in this?
The creation of a unique artistic voice. Thought my undergraduate studies I bounced from subject to subject and medium to medium while my peers focused in on one area of expertise, be it their subject matter of their material of choice. I became a jack of all trades, attempting to respond to the zeitgeist of the moment in whatever medium I’m felt best represented the current concept I was undertaking. The result was a body of work that felt disconnected and disjointed, at the time I was happy with each new work as a standalone piece, but in reflection the collection of individual studies didn’t connect to create a whole. It’s as if a different artist had created each of the works. My hope is that, over the coming year, I can develop a consistency. One constant that interweaves and interconnects each new body of work. That interwoven tread is my home, Wales.
How has your experiences with the AHEH project influenced your ambitions?
I’m a citizen of this giant blue and green sphere called Earth, before my involvement in the project I didn’t quite realise that, I felt confined to my little corner of Wales. These experiences have allowed me to think grander in terms of scope, collaborative projects that are European wide, not confined to the geography of my current location. Rather than aspire to ‘make it’ as a welsh artist I am aspiring to make the rest of the world fall in love with Wales, through my art.
How do you think your involvement with the AHEH project has affected your confidence to take a chance on new opportunities?
It’s helped tremendously, prior to my experiences with the AHEH project an interview such as this would have left me trembling in my boots slippers, but after the experience of pitching a collaborative idea in front of fifty-plus academics, business leaders and peers from a variety of European countries its become exiting and fun. I am giving an artist talk with current fine art undergrads this week and I am more concerned with the state of my kitchen cupboards in the background of my webcam than of content and delivery! Most of all though, it has taught me the true benefits of collaboration, before I was a part of the project I was apprehensive at best when it came to working with others, now I can’t stop saying yes to those types of opportunities. I have numerous collaborations in the works, an element of my practise that I have only gained thanks to my experiences with the Arts and Humanities Enterprise Hub. It’s safe to say that the AHEH project has drastically changed the way in which I work, all for the better.
Where can we see more examples of your artworks and follow your progress?
On instagram, @andrew___bowen (that’s three underscores… its a popular name) is my personal account, @Daily___Triggers (another three underscores for consistency) is my visual research blog, and I’m curating an online gallery @wrestling_with_art in which I view professional wrestling through the lens of fine art. I’ll be honest with you though, I’m not one to overshare so don’t expect daily uploads! In this digital world its easy to think we have to be making finished articles on a daily/weekly basis like the brilliant artists we follow on our social media of choice, but the truth is these artists have studio assistants and social media staff that churn out content on a daily basis, if we try to match them our practice will suffer and in turn, so will we.
Thank you Andrew for your candid and inspiring responses to our Q&A.
We wish you every success in your artistic and professional career and look forward to following your artistic progression.