A year has passed since Sarah Emily Porter completed the Graduate Diploma in Fine Art at Chelsea. It’s been great to see how prolific and professional her practice has continued to be, with commissions, exhibitions and competition entries. Definitely one to watch!

What have you been up to since you graduated?

Since leaving Chelsea I’ve been really busy establishing my practice. I have a studio based in Leyton and from there I’ve been working on various pieces for commissions, exhibitions and competition entries.

Alongside my practice, I work four days a week as a Conference Producer to pay for the essentials. I worked in this area before coming to Chelsea to study Graduate Diploma in Fine Art.

The making of Euclid’s Railings in Leyton Studios by Sarah Porter

The making of Euclid’s Railings in Leyton Studios by Sarah Porter

Tell us about your practice, how has it developed since graduating?

At Chelsea what interested me most was the paint itself, not just as material but as the tool in which to create with. Since graduating I have explored and pushed my understanding of the medium creating larger and more experimental pieces.

I mainly use recycled household paint, sourced locally, and this brings with it an unknown element to my work where the paint may not behave how newly manufactured paint would.

While my work is meticulously planned it is also subject to the laws of gravity and the unpredictability and unforgiving nature of second-hand paint.

What are you currently working on?

I’m developing my spinning canvas technique to create larger and much more challenging, mathematical paintings. I am also experimenting with different paints as they all have different properties which can really change my painting process.

A three week painting performance in the window of GX Gallery. The final work was later sold as part of the Three100 Fundraiser for Second Floor Studios by Sarah Porter

A three week painting performance in the window of GX Gallery. The final work was later sold as part of the Three100 Fundraiser for Second Floor Studios by Sarah Porter

What have been your greatest achievements since graduating from Chelsea?

I recently completed a commission for the residents of Westminster Gardens on Marsham Street. Over 40 Chelsea BA, MA and recent graduates pitched to creatively improve the residents’ back staircase to their new roof terrace.

I proposed to cover the stair risers in coloured vinyl inspired by the British weather washing the colours out of the garden and down the stairs. I hoped this would encourage the residents to climb up to the roof terrace/garden.

As this was quite different from my previous work and potentially too contemporary for their tastes, I also proposed to make a more traditional painting inspired by the angles of their railings as you walk and up down the stairs. I was shocked when I heard back that they loved the work so much they wanted to pay more to commission both ideas!

I am also really proud to have sold some work for the Three100 fundraiser. Organised by Second Floor Studios, 100 artists were asked to sell 100 pieces of work to 100 buyers, with 75% of the profits going towards their campaign to create affordable studios for future generations.

As one of my greatest concerns when graduating, it’s great that I had the opportunity to give back and at the same time extend my network.

Runners and Risers, Vinyl on stairs, 2017. Made for the Westminster Garden’s Commission by Sarah Porter

Runners and Risers, Vinyl on stairs, 2017. Made for the Westminster Garden’s Commission by Sarah Porter

What are your future plans?

Leyton Studios are having an open studios event on 2 September, so I’m hoping to use this opportunity to engage the community by asking them to be part of a painting performance. I’m still working out all the details but I’m sure it will involve pouring paint and a spinning canvas!

Tell us about your time at Chelsea, what do you miss? What did you enjoy the most?

I miss being able to immerse myself in art every day. I’m lucky enough to have negotiated condensed hours for my day job. This gives me one day off a week, plus weekends to be in the studio or visit galleries, but the dream is to go back to painting five days a week.

I massively miss the workshop technicians too. They’re a font of knowledge and it’s so much harder to make projects a reality without their support, or Chelsea’s tools!

What is the most important thing you learned on the course?

Get involved, experiment and remember that your peers are your greatest asset. You never know when you’ll need an extra pair of hands, or know who is going to be promoting your work behind the scenes.

What advice would you give to our students who are about to graduate?

Keep making work, keep seeing other people’s work and look at all opportunities as practice and experience. If you’re interested in winning commissions, make sure you approach your practice like a business, be professional, do your research and be clear to the client about how the final work will be installed and what it will look like.

Read more about Graduate Diploma in Fine Art

Explore this year’s Graduate Diploma in Fine Art students’ work

See more work on Sarah Emily Porter’s website