Head: Mr Phillip Stapleton
I am Joe, West Buckland School’s current Artist in Residence. I recently graduated from the world famous Ruskin School of Art, which is the art school at the University of Oxford. There, I mainly made sculptures, using a range of materials and processes. Formally, these sculptures referenced furniture and animal hutches, informed by wider interests in sentimentality, pet keeping, dream houses and make-believe.
West Buckland is one of only a few schools to have an Artist in Residence, a progressive step, which enables me, as with previous AinRs, to pass on some of my knowledge of being a working artist, as well as my experience of studying art.
The position of Artist in Residence includes having my own studio space in the Art department which is bright and spacious, within the spectacular 150 Building, with views over the surrounding Devon landscape. Since starting at West Buckland, I have been making the most of the space and working on a series of larger sculptures. Access to the department’s facilities has allowed me to be ambitious and introduce new processes into my practice. Specific time is set aside during the school day for me to do my own work and I have full access to my studio on evenings and weekends. As I live on site, I find I spend a lot of my free time in my studio.
When I am not working in my studio, I am busy elsewhere in the Art department. I help out with GCSE and A-Level lessons and run specific programmes for short-term students. Recently, I have been working 1-on-1 with students who want to try out specific materials or processes like casting and ceramics, perfecting techniques and encouraging them to experiment.
Outside of lessons, I assist with technical jobs like installing exhibitions. I run two Junior Art Clubs a week, one after school and one at lunchtime. Two evenings a week, I open the Art Department for prep so boarders who are studying Art can come and make use of the facilities. I also run another Art Club for boarders as one of their evening activities. On some weekends, I help out with boarding more generally, accompanying groups on trips and helping with activities.
This role is unique, varied and hands on and I feel very lucky to be doing this. I enjoy spending time with students, sharing insight into my work and discussing and helping them with their own ideas. I am excited to continue working with them for the rest of the academic year and seeing how far their art develops over time. I’d like to think that I can influence their development and this will give me enormous pleasure.
I also feel extremely lucky to be given the time and space to develop my own work. I am finding being part of such a lively and productive environment to be very rewarding and am grateful to the great team that I’m working with.
This is an example of some of my previous work, based on domestic settings and the magic that household objects can imbue.