Hyperreality and super gentrification in the midst of London
In the middle of January 2015 I left Bergen and Norway behind for five months at Camberwell College of Arts (CCW), which is a part of University of the Arts London. Here I study at BA Photography and since I’m mostly interested in that medium it sounded like a proof choice.
Text by Jonn Schlemayer
The education, both the practical and the theoretical part, is therefore much more directed towards photography, the possibilities are though enormous if I would like to work with; printmaking, 3D-Design or sculpture as they are all located under the same roof and some of the facilities at the other parts of UAL, such as CSM or LCC are also available. The attitude towards working with other medium is an option but the main focus still lies on photography.
The school has 1600 students and the University has a total of 26.000. The only flaw is the price of studying here which is around 110.000 NOK per year for an EU/ESS student (international students pay 190.000 NOK). But no worries, when on an exchange; Erasmus takes care of that and supports me with a grant as well. The cost of living is high just like home and you pay 7000 NOK per month for a tiny student room in a corridor (in Camberwell/Brixton) if you’re lucky and I’m more than lucky so to speak.
At first I took sojourn in Stockwell, here I lived more or less peacefully with a friend of a friends father. It was pretty nice to be close to Brixton and Peckham, which have, so far, suffered less of the outspread gentrification trend, which the city of London gladly (and quite long ago) joined in on... On the other hand it’s nice to get away from the place where I got trapped in the crossfire of a fight in a small store between gang members, armed with knifes and baseball bats and later with broken wine bottles as well. I came luckily unscathed out of it but one of the gang member’s car got all smashed up.
Rear of Camberwell
After returning from the Easter break I moved to a 3-room apartment in between Borouth and Bermondsey, where I now live by myself. Its located 10 minutes walk south of Tower Bridge (the most famous bridge of London). It’s 40 minutes by foot or 30 min by bus to the University so I tend to walk quite a lot every day (since I haven’t bought a bike... yet...).
I’ve worked quite a lot on my theoretical skills since the University provides excellent lectures, artist talks, one-to-one tutorials and weekly required art history classes and much more if I only had the time. There is much Bergen Academy of Art and Design could be inspired from; by this system, when it comes to the theoretical part.
Looking out through my window at home
If you are planning to apply, think about that the academic English can be very elitistic at times, the hierarchies are much more visible and one can feel the rank between student and professor. My studio space is cramped in an open-plan office but I got a permanent desk, which only some people seem to have!? The school's loan store is less good in terms of equipment and you have to do theoretical online courses + a test to loan some things, for example; the stepladder: with one step. And I failed on the first test, so be prepared to do “special tests” if you want to borrow things and if you wonder – I passed the second one! Woohoo!!! ;)
One positive part of studying here is of course the city of London; which features endless opportunities and possibilities both in terms of finding a cooperative studio space after graduation but also in terms of exhibition spaces (both commercial and open submission), the cost of material are quite lower here as well. I’ve seen a lot of exhibitions where I found more inspiration than I could ever hope for not only from the actual pieces and/or the statements but also from the process of talking with practitioners’, gallery owners and curators.
As an artist I’ve developed a new set of skills, by finding a more fitting way of working in a non-linear, non-project based form, because I never liked that something has to have a beginning and an end. I’ve contextualized more than ever and been effectively cutting down on time consuming work using more macros and templates than ever before. Some of the questions I ́ve been asking myself are: why do I make things complicated? Is it wrong to make it faster and easier? Does the result turns out flatter and less intellectual than before?