Hew Locke

BA(Hons) Fine Art 1985 - 1988

The College was a place where you could develop a way of working that would stand you in good stead for the future. At Falmouth I had the freedom to move between the disciplines of painting, printmaking and papier maché – and that’s basically what my art has become based around.

I was born in the UK, but grew up in Guyana, and was lured into studying in Cornwall by the image of a palm tree. It was painted as a sub-tropical paradise in Britain, and to me it seemed to be the closest thing to Guyana in the UK. The landscape and light certainly had some impact on my creativity, but it was being away from the distractions of London that was beneficial to me. It got me away from the hurly-burly and the chaos of everything else, and enabled me to develop my own personal way of working.

A lot of my work has had an aspect of migration in it, and I started making boats in Falmouth, associating with them ideas of travel and migration. I went out on a sailing boat and when I came back I started making a boat, and that was in my degree show. Several years later I was still making large boat-like objects, and even last year I turned a massive cardboard installation piece into a boat. This has come partly from growing up in Guyana, but distinctly from the experience of being at Falmouth.

I sold my degree show just months after graduating and this was a turning point in my career. It enabled me to move to London to do an MA in Sculpture, and after that it just moved from one thing to the next. But it all started in Falmouth.

It was really drummed into me that art was business. Inspirational speakers who came to the College made me realise that this was no wishy-washy career. I particularly remember a printmaker who stressed that art was a serious job, and that one day a week had to be dedicated to administration. And that has stuck with me to this day. Every Friday is my admin day, and that’s crucial to keeping my business going. Professional advice and guidance is even more crucial to students coming out into the tough climate of today’s art world.

My work is all about particular ideas of Britishness, which was something that I started examining in Falmouth. I still have good friends in Falmouth and good contacts from the fine art course, and there’s not one person I speak to who doesn’t see Falmouth as being a seminal experience in their lives. It is basically the most beautiful and unique college in Britain.