Richard Evans worked for years in a creative job, turning the ancient swamp Kauri from his home in Ahipara into beautiful furniture. But it wasn’t until his family had grown up and he found himself ‘on freedom time’, that he seized the opportunity to take his art practice to the next level.
It was after Richard moved to Greymouth to study jade carving that a tutor suggested to him that he study at The Learning Connexion via distance delivery. Richard took up the suggestion and was accepted, on the basis of his art portfolio, straight into the Advanced Diploma with a scholarship.
“I’d never done any formal art as such, so right from the start it was pretty challenging," he says. "But having those life experiences and just being creative was a definite advantage.”
Studying via distance also proved a struggle for the first few months, but after discovering The Art Hotel in Westport, Richard gained a studio to work in and creative people to surround him, including graduates from The Learning Connexion. He duly moved there and became an artist in residence.
Much like the kauri in Ahipara, Richard found inspiration in the natural materials that came from his surroundings. Coal and quartz, mainstays of Westport’s mining industry, became raw black and white materials that Richard could manipulate with the knowledge he had from working with jade.
The concept of materiality instantly resonated with Richard. “As it turns out, I’m just such a material boy,” he says.
He crushed the coal and presented it on boards with lines of white quartz and even found a way to carve and polish coal into glossy pyramids, something he had no idea was even possible.
Learning the language of art was one of the greatest things Richard gained from his year at The Learning Connexion. “Sure, I’ve been creative all my life," he says, "but I’ve never had to do critique or anything like that.”
By the end of the programme he had a deep knowledge of concepts to guide his practice, and the ability to speak about his work confidently and astutely.
Since graduating, Richard has been hired as a high school art teacher and has created an exhibition of collaged works based on the work he did in ‘The Shifters’ module of his programme. He looks forward to re-exploring jade carving with his new outlook and believes he can apply what he’s learned to all media.
If you’d like to enquire about studying at The Learning Connexion School of Art and Creativity, call us on 0800 278 769, or email us at email@example.com.