Stour Valley Art Project
Student Apprenticeships and Bursaries
The student apprenticeship scheme is an annual opportunity for students on the Fine Art, Art and Architecture course at Kent Institute of Art and Design (KIAD) who have a special interest in sculpture, public art or ecological issues. Second Year students are invited to apply for an apprenticeship and must already have taken part in a two week project in Lyminge Forest, also owned by the Forest Commission, to give them experience of working in a woodland. They are not paid, and the amount of time they commit to the apprenticeship is dependent on their commitment and what they want to get out of the experience.
Tim Norris was one of two students selected in 1994 to work with Richard Harris, the first artist in residence in King’s Wood and one of this country's most experienced landscape artists. Tim was already interested in work for outdoor environments and had already gained permission to make work himself at King’s Wood. He was very keen to be involved in the apprenticeship scheme when the opportunity was offered and his application was accepted. He spent a large part of the summer term and the summer holidays working with Richard Harris and as a result had a rich and very memorable experience.
Tim had never met artists who work in this responsive way in a forest location and asked a lot of questions of Richard Harris. He gained an insight into how an artist works, both in a practical way and how to deal with politics and the necessary negotiations. He was able to observe Richard Harris's approach to his work and to finding his site, and to gain a sense of how Richard understands the relationship between the sculpture and the site. He learned the importance of having the positive and active support of the countryside agencies and officers, and how crucial the role of co-ordinator is. Most importantly, he learned that it is possible to make a living by being an artist.
This apprenticeship gave Tim Norris essential experience and understanding which he was able to apply to his own practice when he was awarded one of the student bursaries the following year. Three bursaries are offered annually, two for students on the BA Fine Art course and one for a student on the MA course. Students who have had experience of working with the Stour Valley Art Project are invited to submit proposals each year for a location near King’s Wood which is specified by the project. Tim applied with a proposal for two seats for the selected location that year, the North Downs Way which runs along the margins of King’s Wood. Bursary applicants' proposals are considered by a panel comprising Sandra Drew, tutors from KIAD and a representative of the selected location, in this case the North Downs Way Officer.
Tim Norris' Coppice Seat is just on the edge of King’s Wood. It is a cherry wood bench set within a hollow in the middle of a sweet chestnut stool. As the sweet chestnut has grown, the seat has become enclosed by greenery and during the summer months creates a private place. The second work is a seat cum observatory, on open downland on the North Downs Way. It is a conical pit carved out of the chalk approximately 8 feet deep and open to the sky, which is lined with stripped down chestnut poles and has a cherry wood seat. The visitor enters the space through a narrow 16 foot passage cut into the chalk and when seated can glimpse a sliver of the downs through the cleft.
Since graduating in 1995, Tim Norris has developed a full-time practice as an artist. He won a residency at Grizedale in 1996, a year after graduating, and is now extremely busy with several projects in hand at one time.
© Copyright Joanna Morland 2000