Annette Warner, artist and Fine Art Graduate, Winchester School of Art reflects on her first professional opportunity as part of ‘Ripe Mangoes’, a graduate artists programme with Southampton-based ‘a space’ arts and setting up for life after uni.
I was over the moon to be picked for the new bunch of RIPE graduates, the ‘Ripe Mangoes’. A title I never thought I would be so happy to be given, allowing me and 13 other selected graduate artists from Winchester School of Art, part of University of Southampton and Solent University to exhibit our work (post-degree show) and engage in critical discussion together. I knew of this recently initiated opportunity established by ‘a space’ arts through my internship last year, working with them to plan the initial exhibition ‘Ripe Bananas’ (2018), which provided the first group of art graduates with this opportunity, and so I understood straight away the what experiences this opportunity would entail. Having worked last year, alongside the ‘Ripe Bananas’ artists in preparing the venue for their arrival, it felt surreal to step once more in the same space now as an artist in my own right.
Being ‘picked’ provided me with the invaluable opportunity to continue investigations within my art practice which might otherwise have come to a halt after ending my three-year degree course that had nurtured the growth of our work.
My practice has grown from this opportunity due to the nature of its site-specificity, depending and responding wholly on the space that it resides in and thus collaborates with. The setting of Alfred Arcade, once the epicentre of Southampton’s thriving antiques trade, was perfect; its rich history and unique location gave me inspiration for two weeks to test out ideas within the space. Throughout this time, I engaged in many ways to ‘activate’ and change the space, which was crucial in my considerations of continuing my practice past its previous academic setting! It’s a crucial time for everyone, having just finished our degrees, in choosing which path to venture down, and I found the support of having this space alongside advice from my peers really influential.
This opportunity has solidified my desire to continue working as an artist and further rooted my connections with the brilliant community of creatives residing in Southampton. Along with the ‘Excel’ internship I did with ‘a space’ arts provided by the University of Southampton, the experience has convinced me to stay and work as a young artist in the area, and introduced me to new artists who I have made plans to work with throughout the next year, many being new friends who are Solent graduates.
Having the help and experience of the ‘Ripe Bananas’ artists through our first ‘Ripe Mangoes’ exhibition was a real eye-opener as well. We got to understand first-hand the hardworking attitude of the artists successfully living and working in Southampton, which was encouraging in considering our own options post-graduation. It was welcome and a great relief to see graduated artists continue their work with enthusiasm, focusing on what they are passionate about whilst being just as engaged in supporting others around them. This community ethos is something to be treasured.
I can’t wait to see what the next bunch of ‘Ripe Mangoes’ have achieved when I visit the Arcade re-born for Ripe Mangoes #02 and look forward to seeing what unfolds next year, within this great environment.
Annette Warner is an artist living and working in Southampton.
Exhibition Opening Friday 16 August, 18:00, Saturday 17 – Sunday 18 August, 11:00 – 17:00
The Alfred Arcade, Old Northam Road, Southampton, SO14 0SN
Exhibiting artists: Jade Anthony & Sofia Popova, Ethan Edwards, Mel Fitch-Mitchell, Alexandra Sutherland, Ashleigh Turner.
Ripe Mangoes #01 ran 19 – 21 July 2019
Exhibiting artists: Annetter Warner, Imogen Marooney, Gwen Datyner, Samantha Newby, Mat Scott.
For information visit ‘a space’ arts
‘Ripe Mangoes’ by ‘a space’ arts was supported by Arts Council England, Solent University and University of Southampton.