Jackson Mann is a third year BA Illustration student at Camberwell. He took over our blog during the Undergraduate Summer Show to talk about his practice, the summer show and what lies ahead for him.
The best thing about Camberwell is probably the freedom they give you to really explore what you want to explore. It took me quite a long time to figure this out, but I was making the wrong work for the wrong reasons. Once I realised I could make essentially whatever I wanted to I was far happier and my practice grew and developed far quicker. My work revolves around making; it all focuses on creating beautiful objects (mainly furniture) that at their core serve a purpose, and that reflect their context whether it be through material or the processes used to make them.
Currently I’m working on a couple of big projects:
The first is a set of practical/sculptural pieces of furniture which are rooted in the buildings at Camberwell. There’s this amazing contrast between the utilitarian, functional aesthetic of the 70’s building and the extravagant, over-the-top vibe of the Victorian building. I wanted to build on this as a sort of celebration of my time here, whilst referencing my love of architecture. The shapes and materials I used all allude to the two buildings in one way or another, whether that’s the arch (a callback to the main entrance and ground floor windows of the Victorian building) or the concrete ‘cushions’ of the armchair which relate to the concrete, brutalist exterior of the newer block.
The second big project is two sets of furniture for BA Illustrations upcoming internal and external exhibitions. I’m working on the exhibition furniture for the Illustration show and the shop furniture, which will be shared with BA Graphics and 3D Design. This is really good fun because it’s testing a lot more than just my making skills, it all comes down to organisation and managing which is pretty exciting. Add to that the fact that we’ll hopefully have a really great set of practical but handsome show furniture and it’s shaping up to be a great piece of work.
For the near future, I have a couple of fun collaborative projects planned, and there are a few competitions I’m considering entering. Mainly though my plans are just to apply to all the internships/artists I possibly can and hope someone takes the bait.
Finally, if you’re looking to study at Camberwell, the single most important thing you can do is take part in as much as possible – I don’t mean just workshops either. Some of the most valuable skills I’ve picked up over the last year have been from taking small leadership roles or volunteering to take on larger projects etc. Skills like delegating, managing and organisation will stick with you forever and transition well into any field, whether you stay with the arts or not. Most of your fellow students won’t do this which will be annoying, infuriating even – especially when you want to rely on them – but all that means is that there’s more opportunity for you to get more and more experience.
Aside from that, just make sure you stay true to your practice, don’t let other people’s expectations define your work, make what you want to make, what interests you and you’ll be far happier and excited to go in university everyday!