CLC Prize Winner at ARTiculation 2017

As many of you will already know, College participates in a national public speaking competition called ARTiculation. This is a great opportunity for young people who are passionate about art or writing to express their thoughts and share their ideas.

The best thing about this competition is that you do not have to do any subjects related to art and can just be interested! I did not take Art or History of Art at A Level, but have always loved art and debates about it have always interested me. After a long search and multiple visits to different art galleries, during a recent trip to New York, I finally settled on a minimalist sculpture by Richard Serra entitled Silence (For John Cage), 2015.

The sculpture, which made a huge impression on me, is a huge rectangular steel block. The sheer simplicity of the work made it difficult to write about, but this was also what made it so enjoyable! The competition encourages you to talk about a single piece of art or architecture that you have seen first-hand. This year, in the internal College heats, 14 girls across SFC gave presentations ranging from the Renaissance to Contemporary art. This year’s internal finalists were Rosalind Phillips, Hope Smith and myself. I was really surprised and happy that I managed to get through, but also quite terrified about the next stage of the competition.

The next step was the regional heats, which took place in the RWA in Bristol. Here only one representative from each school takes part. I spent a long time preparing and I recited my presentation to my friends many times in preparation. In Bristol, I was competing against eight other students, all of whom were in the year above me and often studied Art or History of Art at A Level. I was very surprised as all eight of the contestants chose quite contentious 20th or 21st century work, ranging from photography to sculpture and film. The works this year included: Fountain (Duchamp), Alice (Jan Svankmajer), Fulcrum (Jenny Saville), Aung San Suu Kyi Portrait (Red Hong Yi), Maman (Louise Bourgeois), and a Walker Evans Polaroid.

Everyone presented their piece for 10 minutes and was then questioned by two experienced judges - Alison Bevan, Director of the RWA, and artist Mariele Neudecker. I was absolutely terrified, but Miss Fisher and the other contestants were very supportive, which made a big difference. The results were once again quite unexpected. A student called Rose, who spoke with passion and interest about an avant-garde, nightmarish film called Alice, directed by Jan Svankmajer, was deserving of the first place. I came second overall and a student speaking about a portrait of Aung San Suu Kyi came third.

ARTiculation has been an incredible experience, which has encouraged me to delve deeper into art and art history by allowing me to express my passion and opinion, as well as greatly boosting my confidence in public speaking and responding quickly under the pressure of a Q&A. I had a great time and hugely recommend that anyone interested should participate.

Nina Butslova (SFC1)

(Photo credit: ARTiculation 2017 and The Roche Court Educational Trust)