In the run up to our Undergraduate Show in June, we have been interviewing final year students preparing for their exhibition. Today, Sarah Froelich, BA Painting, talks to us about her final project and her experience at Camberwell.
Can you tell us about your final project?
I am currently working on a series of paintings which I have tentatively been calling ‘Synthesizer Frustration Portraits.’ They are depictions of synthesizers and other electronic musical equipment as animate characters to be negotiated with rather than empty objects to be used. It’s a very interesting project for me, because it manages to deal with my personal experience playing live experimental music to large (and often largely confused) audiences as well as engaging with my feelings about painting as a whole, which I view as a slightly more private -yet no less harrowing- preformative action.
What was your inspiration?
I take a great deal of inspiration from the excitement and terror of live performance. Because direct experience in the moment is by its very nature transitory, I had to find some way of working around those feelings: I began looking at the proxy which allows access to the aforementioned emotions, and in the case of a musician these gatekeepers would be one’s instruments. A reviewing of David Cronenberg’s 1991 adaptation of Naked Lunch really cinched the deal for me. In the film the typewriters which William S. Burroughs must use in order to write become monstrous animate agents with very distinct agendas of their own. This obviously cause a bit of friction, and ends up producing some very creative work-arounds.
What do you have left to do between now and the end of year exhibition?
Because of the way I work, I’m never really not working on something, but right now the main focus for the rest of the year is preparing the space and making the best curatorial decisions. Sometimes the most difficult choice is what not to show, but fortunately we have a bit of time to figure out the proper combinations and omissions.
What kind of things do you need to think about in preparing for an exhibition?
At this stage, the work is done (or at least halted for a moment) and the most important thing is presenting that work in the best possible way, so that you do the greatest justice to the work itself while at the same time not overtasking or insulting the viewer. Confidence and understatement are sometimes the most challenging things for me, but in exhibition they are the most important.
What are you hoping to do once you graduate?
I’ve accepted a place at Chelsea on their MA Fine Art program, so I know where I’ll be spending most of my time for the next 12 months. I’m also playing at the Wroclaw Industrial Festival in Poland this November, but other than that, it’s all up in the air at the moment.
Why Camberwell and what will you miss about it once you’ve left?
I chose Camberwell for so many reasons, but the main two have got to be the strength of its painting department as a whole, and the college’s over-all Punk Rock confidence. It has been a great three years, and I am going to miss absolutely everything, right down to forgetting my ID card and having to run back home really quickly so that I don’t miss anything. (Fortunately, I live across the street, so the whole running thing was never really that much of a problem.)
What advice would you pass on to a student about to start at Camberwell?
Make the most of it. The school provides a wealthy of talks, workshops, and events which strengthen the entire experience. You aren’t going to experience any of them if you don’t check your calender and get to the sign up sheet on time.
What pearls of wisdom from tutors or other students that you’ll take with you?
An overarching theme which keeps re-emerging in my tutorials is that it is alright if something you make in no way fufils your original intentions. If you were able to paint a picture which fully satisfied all of your desires and expectations then you wouldn’t have to paint again, you would just want to go home and take a nap, maybe watch The Voice. It is the mistakes you are fortunate enough to make on the way there which really enrich your practice.
I’ll leave you with Beckett: “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”