20th Century British & Contemporary Art
Castlegate House Gallery

Jessica Pigott

31st July, 2014

The first time I realised it could be achievable to be an artist, was watching my dad when I was young. He had a studio and worked from home, so I would always watch him work. I was very fortunate to have that first hand experience, to see how he dealt with that practical day to day life. Looking back now, those experiences were a huge encouragement for my own development as an artist. Wimbledon College of Art also encouraged students in becoming an artist full-time. It was, in some ways, still a concept that a lot of us considered unrealistic. At college, I constantly questioned my loyalty to the subject, my passion and drive. I knew I was someone who could do art, but I never felt like an artist. I wasn’t someone who always read about other artists, I didn’t know all the contemporary artists by name and I couldn’t talk about their styles with ease. I was someone who had been doing it all my life, but pretty quietly. And I felt that I lacked the intensity. It took a while but gradually I started to consider myself as an artist. It was uncomfortable at first, but I realised I didn’t have to smoke, dress in black, stay up all night, sketch all the time or think big thoughts. As soon as I put it out there, people started to believe it and then I started to believe it as well.

Since leaving university, I have continued to make work. Although without a suitable studio space, I’ve produced mainly drawings and small oil sketches. Without the space to be able to paint large scale works on canvas, I have been able to refocus a little bit on my work and how I collect and build up imagery to work from. These preliminary sketches and small studies are important for me; they allow me to go through this very active thought process, defining ideas, marks and colours before I scale it up or take the idea further. The pace at which I make these works has increased; out of both motivation and necessity. My degree show at Wimbledon provided me with a kind of ‘verification’ of my work and an encouragement that gave me this need to make more and make more, to keep going because there was somebody who liked it.

Currently, I am in the process of looking for a studio in London – self contained, natural light, heating, wifi-accessible, transport links, amenities, and the list goes on. There are hundreds of buildings, companies, artist cooperatives and friendly creative communities that provide these kinds of work spaces. I have viewed a few studios now across London, and had to turn them down due to expensive rent or availability dates. It’s a lot like looking for a house - a nice house, which you don’t have to share with twelve other people. The experience of being in a shared studio and having lots of people around you all the time is a novelty that wears off after college. I have always preferred to work alone, with my own space, although not in isolation. It is always reassuring to be able to experience your own solitude with the privilege of knowing there are people around you can talk to, if you wanted to.

In the meantime, while I search for a studio, I’m working whenever I can, taking the time to readdress the work I am, and want to be making.