Continuing with our Life at Chelsea interview series as we approach the MA Summer Show, opening Friday 7 September, we talk to Will Coups & Matt Weir currently studying MA Fine Art (MAFA). 

“We started this course working on our individual practices not knowing each other. We decided to focus our time on our collaborative project WILMA that came out of meeting each other in the first week. We now work on this full time, something that could not have happened if we had both not got a place on MA Fine Art. 

“We designed and built a new bar and gallery space for our MA Summer Show, drawing together the main areas of our research from across the year into one event, including exchange, exhibition, and bar service. We are working with companies such as Toast and Old Blue Lasand are exhibiting artworks of graduating students from other London art schools with the aim of creating a wider network of emerging artists beyond Chelsea. 

“What we’ve learnt about the bar is that it is a very easy platform to explore a range of ideas. We have looked into subjects ranging from data collection and artistic business models to vending machines and German hunting lodges. WILMA has the ability to transform herself in response to each show that we are part of. 

“The studio space at Chelsea has been really important in terms of how we developed the bar. Each week students have curated shows in the MAFA gallery attached to our studios. We run the bar at most of these events, working with other artists to either show their work on the bar, such as Pixy Liao and Amy Robson, or working on a joint concept around exchange with Weichung Lu where she asked ‘What is the elephant in the room?’ as ‘payment’ for a drink. 

“Much of the work we have done this year has involved collaborating with people from within and outside of Chelsea. Sponsorship has been key to helping us make the bar a reality for larger events and we have worked with some fantastic companies including Portobello Brewery, Jagermeister, and Vice’s Old Blue Last.  

For our MA Summer Show we have invited some of these companies back. Jagermeister and Old Blue Last will both be supplying drinks, alongside new collaborators such as Toast, who are really helping us to bring the show together. 

“We are very keen to continue with WILMA after graduating and we already have a couple of shows lined up to keep the momentum of this year going.  

“We were lucky to have the opportunity through Chelsea to travel to ASP Katowice, Poland as part of a MAFA residency through the course. This was a great experience for us and was the first opportunity to put on a bar in an international environment. Whilst there we were asked to be part of a show at Kronika Gallery, Bytom running a mocktail bar at the private view. We have kept in contact with them and they have offered us to come back for a residency after finishing the course.  

“London is a fantastic place to live and study, there’s so much going on all the time. Art wise it has been very interesting to go out and explore all the galleries by going to openings in the evening after college, you get to meet people from all over, who work in the arts and it’s a great way to build up a network.  

“Other students have made our time at Chelsea so valuable. Alongside working with people from our course, we have run bars for shows by students on other courses. We’ve built a close relationship with Chelsea’s Graduate Diploma Fine Art course, having them take over the bar for their course Interim Show, trialling our flatpack bar at their offsite show, and in exchange they helped us out by staffing the four bars we put on for our MAFA Interim Shows. 

“We’d recommend those thinking of studying on MA Fine Art, to go for it! It’s an intense and yet fantastic course and can really change your outlook on how you operate your practice. It will push you and the more you put into it the more you will get out of it. 

“Our experience of Chelsea in three words? Intense, expanding and rewarding” 

 See more on the Wilma Presents Instagram  

Explore work by more students at ChelseaDegreeShow.com 

Find out more about this year’s MA Summer Show open 7 – 13 September 

Find out more about MA Fine Art