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We Are MA: Liam Ashley Clark, MA Fine Art

Liam Ashley Clark studied BA (Hons) Fine Art and MA Fine Art at Norwich University of the Arts. Liam is part of the TBA Collective and was shortlisted for the Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2019 and Saatchi Art Rising Stars 2019. We caught up with him to hear about his practice and why creativity should be fun. 

Can you tell me a bit about your practice?

My practice is mainly based within drawing, painting and photography, but I have also produced 3D works, collages, painted large-scale murals and make zines.

I’ve been largely influenced by the DIY cultures of skateboarding and punk music, but I also take influence from both historical and contemporary art practices.

My work often contains text and is generally colourful with an injection of humour. Recently my subject matter has become more directed towards specific political and social issues.

You studied BA (Hons) Fine Art at NUA- what drove you to return for MA Fine Art?

I graduated from my BA in 2012 and since then I’ve been making work alongside working full-time. I have constantly been showing work, and I made some good connections but wanted to return to do the MA as a way to really pursue a career within the arts.

I also wanted to use it as an opportunity to refine and work on my own practice. I think that by just working in a studio, mainly on my own, makes it easy to get stuck in patterns.

The MA gave me the chance to critique my work and ultimately improve it.

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Where are you happiest making your work?

I’m happiest working in my studio, with some music in the background.

I have had the same space for the past few years, in the city centre of Norwich. I always found it difficult to make work at home, so having a space that I can make a mess and have everything out during busy periods is really important. 

What inspires you about the creative community at NUA and in the region?

One of the things I really like about the creative community at NUA, especially at MA level, is that courses aren’t always separated. This makes it easy to network and collaborate with people across courses. I’m now part of a collective, called TBA, which consists of people from a few different courses working across multiple disciplines.

I think Norwich has a really great wider creative community too, it’s the main reason I stayed in the city after I graduated from my BA. The city is a great place for people to start projects, galleries, shops, brands, studios, etc.

“One of the most underrated aspects of being creative and involved in culture is that it’s fun. “

Why is creativity important?

For me creativity is hugely important for so many reasons. It offers an escape from the everyday, but conversely it offers a way to document and explore society and culture.

It’s a way to ask questions, to create debate and draw attention to subjects, and I think that one of the most underrated aspects of being creative and involved in culture is that it’s fun.

I think that we often see fun as something for children, or ‘having fun’ as less worthy of our time than other things, but I believe that it’s incredibly valuable and a more than acceptable reason to do anything.

When you reflect on your time at NUA, is there something that’s taken you on a particularly rewarding journey?

Definitely the most rewarding outcome is my inclusion in the Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2019, which I applied to following a group session on open submission opportunities. Being selected to such prestigious group has been really amazing, and has led to lots of great new doors opening for me. It’s because of my inclusion in the New Contemporaries that I was also selected for the Saatchi Art Rising Stars 2019 report, which has enabled me to sell more works, especially to the US.

Through the MA some friends and I formed the TBA Collective, which has also been really great, especially as a way to continue the momentum of showing works.

What would you say to someone considering MA study?

Going back to study at MA level after making work for a few years was really great because I was well aware of my practice and had some ideas of the areas I wanted to push. I think it’s good to have some sort of direction in mind for your work, but not be too fixed.

I also think its really important to plan how you will manage your time, especially if deciding between a full and part-time course. It’s easy to get lost in new ideas or new areas of research and you’ll need to leave time to produce the work and documentation.

See more of Liam’s work on his website or Instagram

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