Laura Skehan current recipient of Graduate Award in Partnership with Block T

The Fingal Arts Office with Block T graduate award residency provides emerging artist just out of college with a studio space for a year. I found this space absolutely necessary to developing my practice further. Leaving the security net of college can be a daunting experience, but with the space in Block T, I felt at ease with the transition from the college studio to the professional studio.

I was in a position that I could work in a playful and experimental manner. I could work with materials and in media I hadn’t work with in some time, such as clay and paint. With the shortage of studio spaces in Dublin City, it is absolutely crucial for any emerging artist to have a studio that gives them the freedom to experiment and develop their work materially and thematically.
The duration of the residency was essential. A shorter period of time- although in some cases necessary for other residencies - would have been quite an intense working situation. The year gave me time to read, research and reflect on why I was making art. Instead of making work under pressure to meet a deadline, I could adapt my work schedule to suit me and had the time to consider open calls, to take part in workshops and to discuss my work with other artists. I could take on site visits and engage with exhibitions, events and talks that were ongoing in Dublin without feeling like I was taking away from the time it takes to produce work.
Having a studio space supported by Fingal County Council provided me with the confidence to begin inviting curators to visit my studio. Forming working relationships with curators is crucial to the development of my practice, and having a space to invite others in the industry is essential in any stage of an artist’s career.  I believe the curatorial advice I received allowed me to begin critically thinking about my practice and the methods of research I was undertaking. 
Block T is a wonderful space because of the community of artists and creative people who share the building. I found the spirit and energy of the space to be quite similar to college. The open plan area and communal workspace is beneficial to all, as we share ideas and insightful conversations to help one another. I found this was a huge positive to being a member at Block T.
I have also used the communal space to host meetings with the artist collective I am working with on a number of projects. I was also provided with an insight into how artist run spaces and creative projects operate, which I hope to use in the future.