Rachel’s enthusiasm for art is infectious. We flashback to our chat at the start of her Fine Art degree.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m from Potter’s Bar and lived in London growing up. I did fine art and health + social care at A Level. I was aiming to go into nursing more than art. But I ended up linking them because my teachers were saying, “You could do art therapy, teaching, anything you want after your degree.”
When did you realise you wanted to do something creative?
I went to my first exhibition or gallery when I was about 7. At 13 I started to do my own thing, I went to other exhibitions. I loved all the painting ones like the National Portrait Gallery. Because I didn’t actually know what performance art, film, was art at the time, I just skipped through the exhibitions without even knowing what the meanings of them were. I loved art at GCSE, more at A Level and I love it even more now. So it’s sort of been there from the beginning.
How would you describe your work?
I’m a very out there person, a lot of people would look at my work and think, oh, maybe not this isn’t for me. My art is very political – I love picking things that effect me and my family, things around me. There is not one piece of art that is not personally attached to myself.
Did you know from the start what kind of artist you wanted to be?
I never knew there was art or people who did art like I did when I was younger. It was only at A levels when I started writing down names because I’d need it for research work. We would look at the traditional painters – Van Gogh, Stanley Spencer, the Pre-Raphelites but people like that didn’t have so much meaning to their work.
“I started reading about people, like Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, but I was making the art before I heard about them.”
They do work that is so personal and they make it so people know it. Where I grew up, art was not a big thing in my school. But being strong enough to say that I am an artist, it doesn’t matter what my social class is, or what money is behind it, this is what I will do and I will take it from there.
What inspires you?
My schools didn’t do trips to galleries, so if your parents don’t take you, you’ve got to take yourself. Coming to uni and going into my first lecture, I was bombarded by these massive art movements – all the things that I thought were a bit weird, was art! I was never inspired by other artists but more by my home, where I was brought up and traditional London.
“Hospitals, as morbid as it might be, are an everyday influence.”
Short term, I know my work is going to move into sound, performance and installation. Long term, teaching as a base or art therapy – my family are not stable enough financially to be holding onto me. Even now, anything that gets me on that step-ladder, like a teaching assistant, I’d consider. The main thing right now is to become an established artist. And also having a back-up plan when you don’t get what you want.
Find out more about the course Rachel is studying: