Helen is a self-employed visual artist but also has paid employment elsewhere to subsidise her income...
I completed a foundation diploma in art and design at Leeds College of Art and Design. I then studied for a BA (Hons) degree in Fine Art: Environmental Art and Sculpture at Glasgow School of Art.
After graduating I embarked on a full-time, six-month voluntary internship at Glasgow Sculpture Studios. This was a great way to meet new people, learn new skills and it was through this that I met AHM, a collaborative group of artists who I went on to assist with their research residency.
At the time of the internship, I worked in the evenings and weekends at Glasgow Concert Halls, and have kept this job ever since.
After completing my internship, I saw a painting and printmaking administrator position advertised at Glasgow School of Art, and knew that I had the suitable skills and expertise to do the job well. I was successful in securing this position and I still work there to help fund my practice.
Since graduating I have continued to make my own artwork, and have been involved in numerous exhibitions. At first I had to make my artwork in the flat I was living in, and that meant using my bedroom as a studio. Knowing the high demand for studio space, as a student I put my name on various studio waiting lists. When I was working towards an exhibition at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh, I hired a project space at Glasgow Sculpture Studios. This enabled me to make my large-scale work, test out installation possibilities, and keep everything safe. After the exhibition, I sublet a studio for a few months. A studio-share then became available with another artist whom I knew, and we shared a studio for over a year. I relocated to my current studio, which I have to myself, at the end of last year, and love having my own studio space.
Although it is not necessary to have a fine art degree to be an artist, I think that my degree equipped me with some conceptual and practical skills that have elevated my practice, and I certainly produce better work now as a result.
I work in my studio in the afternoons and will spend as much time there as possible. I usually leave at about 7:45pm and go home to cook and catch up on work emails. I'll also do other computer work such as updating my blog (Helen Shaddock Blog ) and website (Helen Shaddock ), writing funding applications, applying for exhibitions and so on.
My mornings are spent in my role at Glasgow School of Arts where I work with the staff and students, assisting them with timetabling, tutorials, artist talks and booking studios. I'm also an organiser of the Glasgow International Artists Bookfair and I often meet with the other organiser to work on the catalogue, website or promotional material.
Over the years my artwork has become more ambitious and I have embraced working with new materials and processes. I have exhibited in solo exhibitions as well as group shows.
I have also taken on more responsibility in my other jobs, and built up a reputation as an art event organiser/project manager. I would like to be involved in more project management of arts events and continue to exhibit nationally and internationally.
I am currently researching different fine art postgraduate courses, with the hope of starting a Masters in Fine Art in the near future.
I enjoy the varied nature of the work that I do, and that every day brings something new. The people that I meet through my work are very interesting, and I like visiting different spaces and hearing what other people are doing.
In order to afford to rent my studio and make my artwork I need to have various other jobs, and it is difficult to juggle everything. I am constantly having to think about finances and do not live a luxurious lifestyle at all.
I would warn people that being an artist is in no way easy. I would encourage students and graduates to volunteer with different art organisations and try to get any experience in the field.
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