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UoN MA Professional Development Residency Award at NN Project Space

09/06/2022 - 11/06/2022

Between 9th and 11th June 2022, we will be welcoming University of Northampton MA Fine Art students as part of the Professional Development Residency Award at NN.

The residency is the culmination of research by a group of 6 artists into their own creative practice and exploring ways of sharing their work with audiences.

NN PDRA provides the MA students with their first opportunity to exhibit as a group, the professional space to test the studio practice alongside their peers, and a time to pause and reflect to review the progression of their practices so far. 

Image: Clockwise from top left: Marigold Short, Matthew Beesley, Samantha Ellis, Sarah Watts.

About the artists

Matthew Beesley

Matthew Beesley studied Fine Art Painting and Printing at Northampton and Byam Shaw Schools of Art (1976-1979) and later embarked on an apprenticeship in stone masonry, stone carving and letter-cutting in the UK and Germany (Cologne Cathedral 1980-1983), eventually becoming a master letter-cutter in stone. Upon returning to UK, he founded and taught pottery and ceramics to blind/purblind people for several years, voluntarily (Northampton Centre for the Blind). During this period, he was commissioned to paint a large fresco inside the linear accelerator treatment room in the Radiotherapy Department, Northampton General Hospital. His artistic pursuits have remained a fundamental activity throughout this whole period, with four one-man exhibitions and multiple group shows intermittently. 

Esther Ross

Esther Ross is a twenty-eight-year-old self-taught artist from Northamptonshire. Having previously studied a degree in history she has moved on to painting portraits of local people, suffering various different mental health challenges alongside her regular work as a courier. She has exhibited with the Institute of Mental Health in Nottingham for their ‘Traumascapes, landscapes of the interior’ exhibition as well as at various galleries around Northamptonshire, including the Heseltine Gallery, gaining the award of ‘Commended Artist’ for her large-scale abstract work ‘Alive’. She is currently working towards teaching in the arts.

Samantha Ellis

Samantha Ellis is a 25 year old MA Fine Art student whose practice is mainly concerned around painting. Throughout her short but continuing artist career she has focused on painting landscapes in and around her environment and most recently moved into the realm of cloudscapes and the nothingness of outer space. She has continued to paint throughout all times in her life as she is currently in her first and final year of her MA and working for the local theatre, Royal and Derngate in Northampton. 

Throughout her time on her various art degrees, Samantha has curated and been a part of a number of exhibitions including ‘Cloud 9 and everything else’ A solo exhibition and talk with the Royal Meteorological Society at the Royal Statistical Society in London of 2019. A degree show group exhibition at the University of Northampton, Avenue Campus in 2019. Alongside this, Samantha exhibited in two smaller group exhibitions within her BA at the university and another in an external space alongside one previous show at the end of her foundation degree. 

Marigold Short

Marigold Short is a painter who also enjoys printmaking and working digitally. Artists who have influenced her work include the Fauvists, the Surrealists, the Abstract Expressionists and the graphic artist M.C. Escher. She studied Fine Art at the University of Northampton gaining a 1st class honours degree.

Sarah Watts

Sarah Watts is a Milton Keynes-based artist currently studying for a MA in Fine Art at Northampton University. She graduated from Gent College of Higher Education (University of Wales) in 1989 with a BA Hon Degree in Fine Art. Sarah went on to study for a post-graduate diploma in Arts Administration, and worked at ICA, Chisenhale Gallery and the Lisson Gallery. Since returning to Milton Keynes, Sarah has supported herself by working as a freelance artist, including leading drawing workshops in schools, teaching life drawing, community art classes, and creating carnival costumes, whilst raising her family. In 2011, she co-founded The Drawing Machine, a drawing project to encourage and engage the community in drawing, and to promote the annual Big Draw, with events across Milton Keynes. In 2017, as BLC Artist, Sarah worked in partnership with MK Gallery City Club artists, local schools and community groups to raise awareness of the new community orchard and to engage the local community in the project. In 2019 was awarded MK Community Foundation Visual Arts Bursary, became an Associate Artist with Milton Keynes Gallery, exhibited in the M Calling Exhibition, and at the MG Project Space, and led community workshops at the Festival of Creative Urban Living. Sarah continues to work with Milton Keynes Arts for Health, and Milton Keynes Arts Centre.

Martyn Steele

Martyn Steele studied Fine-Art Sculpture at Loughborough University, graduating with a Second Class Honours, Upper Division, Degree in 2002. Martyn lives on a narrowboat on the River Nene and works mainly from his studio workshop at Upper Harlestone in Northamptonshire. He also uses the family blacksmith forge in Newtondale, North Yorkshire.

His work is minimalist. He explores the fluidity of water and the effect it has on its surroundings. The strength and resilience of water are portrayed through his manipulation and combination of materials: wood, stone and steel.


About the Professional Development Residency Awards

The Professional Development Residency Awards is a joint partnership between NN Contemporary Art and the University of Northampton. Both organisations are passionately committed to making Northampton a culturally rich place in which to live, study, and visit. Their common objectives are creative research in art and design, public and community engagement, local growth and regeneration and skills development, enterprise, and employment. The new PDRA initiative is the latest scheme to emerge from the partnership and is intended to support emergent artists with a focus on providing skills and networks to enhance employability in the region.

The PDRA award is aimed at participants who are seeking to develop careers in the cultural sector and offers recipients valuable experience in working with NN Contemporary Art, which is an Arts Council England (ACE) accredited National Portfolio Organisation (NPO). Award winners have the opportunity to work with NN professionals to showcase their work to audiences to receive feedback on their practice and gain mentoring toward future career aspirations.

Throughout their residencies, the awarded students have the opportunity to provide engagement with the team of Curators and Education specialists, work and experiment in the project space as well as exhibit their work during public-facing events. The awardees will be given marketing support and provided equipment and technical support.

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