BlogInto Uni

Graduating with: Rory Sheridan

Rory’s back, and this time it’s as a graduate.

Last year, we spoke to Rory as a student at the beginning of his undergraduate journey. He’s back answering our questions and giving us an update on life at graduation.

 

About Me

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Rory and I’m a 21-year-old graduate of BA (Hons) Photography at London College of Communication (LCC). Photography was a subject I had a passion for at A level, so I just decided to go for it at university!

I’m a proud Londoner, living in Greenwich, South London all of my life. I’m a person who sometimes stammers, which affects my communication, but I try not to let it hold me back in doing what I want to do!

How would you describe yourself now as a creative?

I guess I’d say that I’m a visual artist. This means that I’m not limited in what artistic activity I like to do. I like to do a bit of everything, publishing, writing, animating, moving image, photography, curating and so on. I don’t want to limit my creativity.

My creativity now focuses on representing disability and day-to-day life challenges. I’m keen to tell stories, show things for how they actually are and begin educating people. I believe that art should represent and not be passive, so if my artwork can help to do this, that would be great.

Credit: Rory with his final year project, photographed by Ming Lu.
You’ve been such a wonderful Insights/ Outreach contributor and Ambassador! How have you found the experience?

Being an Outreach Ambassador has been such a rewarding experience! It was my first paid job! I’ve become incredibly invested in making sure that the students on the Insights course make and do the best work that they can. Supporting them to do so is such a rewarding feeling. It has helped me to learn different technical processes, learn how best to support students, meet the tutors on the programmes, work together with staff to find solutions to problems and work quickly on my feet.

Either personal or professional, was is the one most important thing that have you achieved from studying your course?

A degree is not what you initially think it is going to be at the start. There is a lot more than meets the eye so to speak. I thought I knew a lot about photography and even broader art history, but I didn’t. Make the most of your theory lectures. The most important thing is to be receptive to new information, which will allow you to be ambitious in your own work. Test, experiment and develop your practice during your course – it will only be rewarded.

Credit: Rory Sheridan. A carousel of screenshot stills taken from Rory’s Final Major Project.

My Work

Tell us about your FMP and any support you received in making this work.

My final major project was titled ‘The Open Mouth That Offers Up Nothing’. The project aims to display an underrepresented ‘disability’, stammering. Knowledge about it around the world is limited, which affects the mental health of people who stammer. My final major project aimed to reduce the fear of talking about stammering and show what it is like to be a person who stammers, physically and mentally. This installation shows the other side, which people may not be able to gather from just listening to someone who stammers.

The moving image installation has three television screens, alongside sound. All of the content of the piece comes from interviews with people who stammer, which I arranged. This meant that the piece was representational of their views and opinions, not only coming from me being the artist.

The work was ambitious, in its time taken to complete, but also in the resources required to pull it off. I was very taken aback to be awarded with a Hegarty Foundation Bursary. This funding helped me a huge amount in being able to hire the equipment I needed for the final exhibition to take place and look visually strong. It also supported me to buy personal equipment like software to aid my work from home. It also meant that I could give most of my time to the project without having to worry about working. The bursary was so helpful, taking one weight off my mind and allowing my focus to just be on my final project.

Credit: Rory Sheridan. Promotional material from, ‘The Open Mouth Which Offers Up Nothing’ symposium which coincided with Rory’s final project installation.
Any top tips?

Firstly, I would suggest to make the most of the specialist facilities available in your college or other colleges! Some techniques are very practical, old-school, but worth giving a try, because once you leave university, its generally much more expensive when you leave! I wish I’d screen printed and used letterpress more, for example.

“Secondly, I know it sounds cliché; make the most of all opportunities thrown at you.”

I’d suggest, trying to exhibit your work in a public gallery (even if it’s within university) before your final show. It is a steep learning curve, and helps you learn more technical skills as well as curation, presentation and collaboration with others, which is vital for work beyond university. These additional opportunities will make you realise that there’s lots of different segments which make up your degree and also the general art world. It’s a big, exciting place!

Finally, money. Of course, it’s a touchy subject, but make sure you’re fair to yourself and budget well. Find a part-time job, with good pay if you can, which means you can work a decent number of hours, without having to compromise your level of achievement on your degree. Your degree comes first always. I was lucky enough in my final year to be in receipt of a Hegarty Foundation Bursary, which I’d strongly encourage you apply for, this is an awesome means of financial support which means you can really put your foot on the gas and as I said before, be ambitious!

Credit: Rory with work from one of his past projects, photographed by Ming Lu.
What’s next?

I’d like to ideally be a freelance artist and photographer who is able to earn their income from their artwork, putting on exhibitions, events, talks and more.

To help make this happen, I’m going to form an artist collective with university peers – plus people who stammer who are also artistically inclined – to continue my work investigating connections between art and stammering and how to represent this. I would also like to set up and run my own artists’ exhibition space; we would put on new, leading, professional content which breaks new ground in the representation of disability and socially relevant issues. To learn about this, I’d like to work in curation, event management or an artist’s studio to learn about how I would go about this on my own.

 

Find out more about the course Rory graduated from:

BA (Hons) Photography