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Ainoa Burgos Gonzalez reflections on her first graduate year

27th Jan 2023

Brighton artist, Ainoa Burgos Gonzalez, winner of the Platform Graduate Award 2021, gives her reflections on her first graduate year.

 

Image Credit. Ainoa Burgos Gonzalez, Fjorgyn in the south down & Fjorgyn in the Woods, 2022

  • What was your greatest need as an artist after graduating?

My greatest need as an artist after graduating was to find a way to keep my practice active and remain in close touch with the art world. In other words, to keep my momentum going. For me it was important to have a space to work and to be able to financially afford the costs of creating, studying an MA and living. So, a big need was to find a job within the creative industries with the intention of being constantly involved in a diversity of art environments. 

  • Can you describe what you have been doing in the last year?

I have to say, the last year has been one of the busiest of my life… After graduating I started an MA in Photography at the University of Brighton and I started looking for a job that I could combine with my studies. There were months I was juggling between 4 jobs and the MA. It was tiring but, the truth is that all of them were art related. From creative workshops with children in impoverished areas, art events and tours, selling artwork in a small gallery and doing shifts as front of house. Happily, some months later I passed an open selection process for Operations Assistant role at Phoenix Art Space, where I am currently working. This has provided me some stability and a great environment of work. I feel very fortunate. 

On the other hand, I started developing a new body of work. As my last piece, The Solanum Tuberosum Banquet, this is also a research based artistic work. The new body of work in which I am currently working is called The Plastic Era as an Indicator of the Anthropocene. It looks into the use of plastics in our everyday lives, specially linked to agriculture, food consumption and the effects of plastics in soil’s health, while exploring Photography plasticity by the use of experimental darkroom techniques. The Plastic Era as an Indicator of the Anthropocene has different sections, In it is included a Sellotape wearable sculpture called Fjorgyn used as part of a performance shoot in the idyllic landscapes of the South Downs and shown as C-Type prints; The second part is an essay on Plastic, Landscape and the use of them to maintain social inequalities and colonialism. The essay became a big motor of the project. Currently, I am working on the third part of this project which consists n a series of Colour Photograms called Optograms of the Earth. The photograms are made with plastic waste gathered along smallholding agricultural areas in the UK during Photographic Research Field Trips. I am hoping to have this last part of the work finished by July, when I’ll have an exhibition with my MA colleagues.   

As I said before, it has been a very busy and productive year… 

 

Image Credit. Ainoa Burgos Gonzalez, Optograms of the Earth 3 & 4, 2022

 

  • Who did you talk to in the mentoring year, who else supported you? 

I was very lucky with my mentoring scheme, I had Eduardo Padilha as a main mentor. He put lots of effort to catch up with me and follow my processes, which I am sure it wasn’t the easiest… We had some zoom meetings and phone calls, we visited some exhibitions together like Hew Lock Procession. It was a brilliant experience as he is very generous and knowledgeable. I also found that we had lots of things in common and this made the communication very easy. I am so grateful to have meet a beautiful person. 

I also had the opportunity of having a mentoring session with Helen Cammock, where I had the freedom of expressing and talking about my artistic concerns, show her my work and discuss about it. 

In addition, I encounter a great support of my lecturers and technicians at uni, where plenty of conversations happen in the everyday. Also, I found a great support from my colleagues at Phoenix Art Space. 

Of course, my friends and family. Even when they are not all close in physical distance they are always here to support me and to encourage me. 

In short, I feel that I found lots of support along the last year and I feel immensely thankful.

 

  • Were there any unexpected discoveries?

I found out that it is possible. I do not know how unexpected it was but definitely it wasn’t the most expected. There is more works in the art industry than we think. It doesn’t mean that is easy but at least, is doable. 

It has been great to see that contrary to what “they” say out there, the arts are a very supportive industries where people truly help each other. If that is the environment you are looking for. 

Artistically, I found myself immersed in film photography and colour darkroom exploring the possibilities of working with light and colour. 

  • What advice do you have for artists starting out?

Just keep swimming…

  • What are you hoping to do next?

First, I need to finish the MA, in the meantime I want to focus on enjoying it as much as possible and take from this time as much as possible. 

I am looking forward to being more proactive regarding exhibitions and move my artworks to new locations and audiences. 

I also want to remain part of the university’s ‘knitting’ as I love education and research spaces, I would like to be a lecturer and I am starting to think about expanding my current research into a PhD and would like to find funding for this. 

Something important I have learned during this last year is that whatever happens I want to be within the art environment working with people with whom I share principles of art and life. And I think this is the most important part.

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