Fine art friends win prestigious British Council Fellowships for world-famous Venice Biennale

Fine art friends win prestigious British Council Fellowships for world-famous Venice Biennale

Best friends Aimee McCallum and Lauren Wilson will spend a month immersed in and working at the world-famous Venice Biennale when it takes place later this year.

For the two fine art students have been awarded Venice Fellowships by the British Council.

The Scottish pair, who are in their third and final year of their BA (Hons) Fine Art degree course at the University of Cumbria’s Institute of the Arts, have been successful in their applications to secure the fellowships to attend the biennale.

The rigorous and competitive application process includes a formal interview with British Council representatives in London.

The Venice Biennale regularly attracts 500,000 visitors. Held in one of the world’s most romantic and architecturally important cities, the biennale has a history stretching back more than 120 years and is recognised as one of the world’s most important and prestigious cultural and artistic events.

Aimee and Lauren, who share a house in Stanwix, Carlisle close to the Institute of the Arts campus in the city’s Brampton Road, are among some 60 young artists from across the UK awarded 2019 fellowships.

Fellows will share their time between invigilating the British Pavilion exhibition at the Venice Biennale and conducting independent research as part of their month-long residences.

Their research will be guided by the focus of the biennale and the British exhibition, which this year will feature the work of Glasgow-based artist Cathy Wilkes and will run from 11 May until 24 November

Lauren, 24, and Aimee, who is 22, are learning more about the roles and duties they will have while in Venice.

The pair first met five years ago when they began a foundation art and design course at Edinburgh College’s Granton campus.

Sculptor Lauren, from Galashiels in the Scottish Borders, plans to head out to Venice in early June, part way through her own final end-of-year exhibition at university. Aimee, from Edinburgh, intends to travel to Venice in July.

“Where I come from there are not lots of fine art exhibitions to go to and so I explained in my application that I would like to give something back that would help benefit other creatives in my local community. It would be nice to go back and put on an exhibition and workshops,” said Lauren, who wants to develop a career as a curator in a gallery or museum after she graduates.

Aimee said: “I want to open a performance and creative exhibition space with my friend Page Hardie eventually. This experience is going to help me; I will learn and be inspired so much about the possibilities of what we can do.”

She added: “It is going to be an amazing experience living and working in Venice. The stewarding at the British Pavilion will come with a high level of responsibility and will give us great opportunities to engage with so many people and visitors from across the world. It is also going to be wonderful opportunity to learn more about Cathy Wilkes and her work.”

Jane Topping, programme leader for the BA (Hons) Fine Art course at the University of Cumbria, said: “The fine art team is delighted that Aimee and Lauren have both won this genuinely life-changing opportunity – a month of living, working and making art at the Venice Biennale 2019.

“The competition was stiff, but the qualities of these students quite clearly stood out from the crowd.

“Aimee and Lauren are already developing dynamic professional practices in performance and sculpture, and have lots of ideas about how to develop art work in collaboration with the other Venice Fellows.

“Aimee and Lauren are intelligent and resourceful emerging artists, who will be wonderful ambassadors for the fine art programme at the University of Cumbria Institute of the Arts.”

A campus tour of the University’s Brampton Road campus is taking place on Wednesday, 20 March 2019. Visitors have the opportunity to look around the facilities and speak to current students about their experiences at the University of Cumbria. Book your place online.

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. A charity, it works with over 100 countries in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society.