Alumni Spotlight: Foundation Course - Mary Ramsden

Wednesday,20 July 2022 in  Courses, Spotlight, Students

Mary Ramsden is a British painter who lives and works in London and North Yorkshire. Ramsden studied the Foundation Course before going on to Edinburgh College of Art. She continued her education and graduated in 2013 from the three-year postgraduate art school at the Royal Academy of Arts, RA, in London.

How would you describe your work?

I make paintings that slip in and out of abstraction. This can create a complicated relationship with the work but ultimately i am interested in trying to find the right language for that particular problem or the best way of articulating the thing i want to see. It’s a lot about tearing down and building back up to discover a thing that surprises me. The parts are always moving until i can find a way to make sense of them.

What are you working towards at the moment?

I just finished a new series of paintings for a show with Wentrup gallery in Berlin. This was a development on from a series of paintings i made last year for Pilar Corrias gallery. They are strange things for me and take forever to make as the speeds of application vary a great deal across each canvas and for some reason these works were particular demanding. I spend a lot of time unpacking the histories of painting when producing work and holding all of those different approaches, trying to get them to talk to each other can be a lot. 

Can you tell us a little bit about how you work in the studio? How do you start off your day?

I start by sitting with all the errors of yesterday until i see a way to fix something. It’s not long before i’ll gauge if i will be proficient that day or just not. Sometimes things come off better for no real reason, it just can be a day for the right kind of decisions.

  

Have you discovered anything new recently that you are really enjoying?

My friend Gabriel Hartley recently moved to Japan and came back with a beautiful new series of paintings on show at Seventeen Gallery. There’s a big shift in the work and they look so fantastic. 

You studied at Leith School of Art on the Foundation Course. What do you think the value of doing a Foundation Course is?

I loved my foundation course because you are encouraged to play and fail and poke around looking for what makes sense for you.  An art practice can be refined too quickly and the freedom at this early stage is so important and generative for a student. It was also vital for me to me to learn how to really look at stuff and work out what it was i wanted to see and how best to interrogate that. 

What stands out in your memory about your time at Leith School of Art?

The people. Tutors and fellow students were like a family at that formative time when you don’t know what the hell you’re doing with work/ life. It was such a safe space to be vulnerable in. This encouraged the bravery that began to make things interesting. I liked the intimate scale of the place and the 9 to 5 of it stopped you getting too lost in your own head.  

What would you say to anyone who was thinking of applying to the Foundation Course?

Think about how you feel when you make stuff. I wouldn’t say choosing a career in art is easy and if you were praised for making the cat look like a cat that’s not really enough. If manifesting an idea as a painting/ drawing/ performance/ object is the only thing that makes sense to you then a foundation course is the best way to start figuring that out. 

  

To see more of Ramsden's work, head over to her instagram @maryjramsden

 

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