Thursday the 30th of June was a crazy day for me.
I wasn't only graduating from the Arts University Bournemouth with a First Class Honours Degree that afternoon, but immediately afterwards I was heading to London for the Creative Conscience Awards 2016.
I'd been informed I was a finalist in May, and initially I thought I wouldn't be able to attend the awards event because it clashed with my graduation. But after talking with my tutors, I realised it was too good an opportunity to let pass by. So unfortunately I missed out on the champagne and the typical beach photos I'd seen all over the Facebook pages of previous Bournemouth graduates, and I got the four o'clock train to Bournemouth Waterloo with the other finalists.
The Creative Conscience Awards were held at Unilever House, London, with great views of the Shard and the Thames. I was so happy to win the Bronze Award in the Illustration & Animation category, for my mindfulness book, whilst my fellow course mate Rachel Hughes (http://www.rhillustration.co.uk) won the Gold Award for her animation depicting animal neglect and abuse.
The evening was a great opportunity to meet fellow illustrators and creatives, from all across the UK. What's great about the Creative Conscience awards is that the work submitted always has an intention, and an aim to inspire a change in the world - for whatever cause. I love seeing people who are inspired and interested by something, and I found recently that I work best when I feel driven by something I am personally passionate about.
I am excited to carry on making work, and I have big plans in regards to my mindfulness project and it's future. I want to continue making books about subjects I am passionate about, whether that is personal happiness and mental wellbeing, or even branching out into other subjects I believe in.
My work on the Creative Conscience Awards' winners section: https://www.creative-conscience.org.uk/winners/catherine-hood/
On Thursday the 16th of June, it was time for the private view of the Arts University Bournemouth's Summer Shows.
I was excited and - if I'm being honest - a little nervous.
The years I've spent at University have definitely been some of the most challenging years of my life. A lot of tears can be shed in four years, and I definitely felt like I'd hit rock bottom at least twice. Sounds overdramatic, but my work and the quality of it has always been so important to me. I'm a perfectionist, with unrealistic expectations of myself, and it was whilst I was at University that I realised how difficult this was making my life. Eventually I learnt to let go and enjoy University. I learnt how to allow myself to be happy and content, which is where I believe the success of my final year came from.
So I was worried; worried and excited to see the culmination of three year's hard work. I felt a lot of pressure, especially since I'd brought my family with me to see it.
But when I found the new drawing studio where the illustration summer show was being held, I realised I needn't have worried.
My work had been printed out HUGE.
The whole book I'd created for my Major Project 'Lonely Men I Met on Tinder' had been printed out and had been draped across one of many giant wooden structures, which filled the new drawing studio. It was a shock to see three month's worth of work blown up so big, for everyone to see, and I felt a little overwhelmed. After four years, I should be used to seeing people looking at, and critiquing, my work, but seeing my illustrations out in the open like this, with strangers reading the intimate stories these men had shared with me, seeing them interpreting my own interpretations of the text...
I needed a drink. Quickly.
Here's an overwhelmed - slightly tipsy - me for scale.
It was great seeing my work in this size. I'd been told initially by a visiting tutor to create my book small, handheld, like a novelty book you'd give a friend as a christmas present. My audience was adults, so a small book would be more fitting. I'd found that advice a little restrictive and disappointing. I love picture books, and would have loved to have made this project into a giant, tactile, beautiful object, which could be gathered around and interacted with - a picture book for adults, perhaps.
Seeing my work like this gave me an idea of what I could achieve, of what I could do next. I was so pleased my tutors were happy enough with my work to display it like this, and it gave me confidence for the upcoming results day.
The exhibition was definitely a celebration of the Illustration course as a whole. It looked great and worked well. Utilising the awkward space was definitely going to be a challenge, but the terrarium theme fitted in with the circular walls and large skylight of the new drawing studio, with the addition of leafy plants making it seem almost as if we were standing inside a terrarium. The style of the wooden structures added to the terrarium theme, and it was definitely an aesthetically pleasing exhibition.
Below are a selection of photos taken from the event:
Clockwise from top left
Rosan Magar (on board)
Georgie Sturge (behind Rosan)
A selection of zines: Laura Girling, Valeria Vasilijeva, Adam Wickens, Annie Bushnell, Geo Dench (amongst others)
Martine Loubser (to the left)
Nina Lewis and Kathryn Burton (to the right)
Rory Kennedy (to the left)
Meg James (on board)
Sam Scales (on board)