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Student Voices

Student Spotlight | Georgie Ralph

By UALHalls 16 Jan 2024

Meet Georgie, a first year Fine Art student at Chelsea.

Georgie is a first year fine art student at Chelsea College of Arts, she is from a seaside town in the South East of England. She wanted to move to London for a change of pace and environment as well as the greater connections and networking.

art and a window

What are you studying and what made you want to come to UAL?

I started my degree in fine art at Chelsea this year.

I chose to study at Chelsea because of the location and the course. I felt that the fine art course at Chelsea was well suited to my work due to the open and experimental nature of the course as well as the work produced by people already in the course. At Chelsea you don’t need to specialise and can continue to experiment unlike other courses that I had looked at. This is important to me as I still have many ideas that I want to try out, I don't have a very clear path for my practice yet.

I also chose UAL because of the location and the opportunities. In London there are a lot of galleries and opportunities to experience and make art compared to other places in the uk.

art paper

Why did you choose to study fine art?

I have had a lifelong interest in art, going to many galleries and drawing from a young age. I have consistently enjoyed making art for as long as I can remember. I studied it at GCSE, A Levels and continued my education in art by doing an art foundation before I continued to the fine art degree at UAL.

Art is a good way to express myself. I am quite a shy person and I find that I am able to express myself through art better than by talking. Art is a very important way of communicating issues and feelings, it can be used to shed light on political and social issues in a way that other media can’t. I often base my art off of personal experience.

I also enjoy art because of the process. A lot of my art is very process-driven, I often document the process of creation and choose my materials based on how their qualities will affect the process of creation.

a statue of a clay person

What mediums are you interested in?

I love to try out new materials and UAL has been a great place to do this. With the many facilities that are available at Chelsea, I have been able to try out processes that I had not tried before such as casting. I have been able to experiment more with materials that I love to use but haven’t been able to much in the past, specifically clay.

I love to use many different materials but most of the time I use acrylic paint and fabric along with other textiles materials like sewing or embroidery thread. I love the shapes and textures that can be made using fabric so I use them to add interest to my paintings rather than painting onto canvas, though I do this sometimes.

Who inspires you?

For traditional methods of painting, John Singer Sargeant is who I look to for inspiration. I love his use of bravura to create paintings that look realistic yet, when you are closer, the brushstrokes are visible. I find paintings more interesting when it is still clear that they are a painting, and not just a completely realistic depiction of the subject matter.

For my current work I have been drawing a lot of inspiration from Lee Bul and Sarah Lucas, both create work depicting or questioning the female body, how it is represented and expectations about it. They both use textile elements in their work. Bul, in her early work, created monstrous costumes with the intention of questioning pressures and restrictions placed on women and their bodies. Lucas creates interesting female figures out of tights and stuffing, using chairs as a kind of stand for them to rest on and intertwine with.

At Chelsea, it is really easy to find inspiration through talking to the people around you. There is a huge range of diverse people and ideas. I have found that conversations with tutors and other people on the course, as well as collaborative work, constantly sparks new and interesting ideas of how to progress my work.

embroidered art

What are you working on currently?

Currently, I am developing work based around body dysmorphia and questioning the position and power that beauty standards hold in society. I am specifically doing this by making work relating to the female figure, largely the figure in relation to body dysmorphia though I have been branching out recently.

In terms of materials, fabric and acrylic paint continues to make up a large amount of my work. However, I have been experimenting with clay sculpture a lot more than in the past and have made a collection of female figures representing the effects of body dysmorphia. I have found that clay is an interesting way to increase the amount of 3D pieces in my work, which is something that I am very interested in. I think this collection of clay sculptures is what I am most proud of making since being at Chelsea and I intend to continue to develop them.