Before joining the RCA, Elly Glossop graduated from the Royal Danish Design School on the tiny island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea. She was recently a recipient of the Charlotte Fraser Prize.
When did you first hear about the RCA, and why did you decide to study here?
The RCA's reputation and connections are international. A lot of the tutors are professional artists and having one-on-one tutorials with them meant a lot to me when I was looking for places to study. The RCA is the stamp of approval in a lot of ways. I'm from Australia, and had lived in Denmark for ten years, but being here really allows you to understand the reputation of the College. Being taught by people like Felicity Aylieff and Steve Brown, and having this connection to people who are at the top of their game is amazing. And also being able to just go to places like the V&A and work with collections like theirs – you don't get that at other schools.
Can you describe what it’s like studying at the RCA?
We're all there, all the time. People are very driven. The Ceramics & Glass Programme is structured so that we have three projects in the first year, unlike other MAs where you just work on your one piece. For me, when you're working with a material, learning new techniques is always a good thing. And having experts teaching you specialist materials from the ground up. It's been really busy and you're always pushed with regular deadlines. I find that’s a great way to work.
Have you been set any particular briefs / projects that you've really enjoyed working on?
We had a project where we went to the V&A's ceramics collection and chose a piece made before 1950, and had to make a contemporary interpretation. That left us with a lot of freedom: we could do anything, any expression, any technique. I took it as a technical challenge, as I'd never worked with plaster before, and I was able to experiment. Things really snowballed from there. I was awarded the Charlotte Fraser Prize, and through that I was asked to meet Prince Charles. Through meeting Prince Charles, I met a collector who has just bought my entire Work-in-progress Show. So it can all be traced back to this one brief.
How has your work or thinking developed while you have been at the RCA?
It's been expansive. I had been living and working on this remote island, so coming to London and the RCA has helped to open up and evolve my practice. It's going in different directions than I imagined, and I've been forced to try new things. Each project is open to different approaches and techniques, and we're encouraged to experiment.
What is the mixture of students like, and what are the benefits of being in an international community?
Our Programme has 28 people this year, and about half are international students from across Asia. We've got a really great group of people. Everyone is so supportive and it's been really interesting to see how other people work. Everyone is driven and it's been such a great environment to work in. People are technically gifted in a lot of different ways, and are open and willing to help others. For a Programme that has as much contact time as we do, it's great to be surrounded by such supportive people.
What have you found most rewarding about your time at the RCA?
Just being given opportunities, and the recognition my work has received. I always appreciate being asked to do new things, and then to have the work I've put in be acknowledged has been really rewarding. It's been a confirmation for me that I'm doing the right thing, that I'm doing what I'm supposed to and I just have to keep doing it.
Have you faced any particular challenges while you have been here?
The workload, especially for the first year, is really heavy. The number of projects combined with the School-wide Critical & Historical Studies series, and the various technical workshops – it's full on. It's been a challenge for everyone. I wanted it to be full on, and challenging, and I wanted to push myself, but it's surpassed my expectations.
What are your plans for this year, and what do you intend to do after you graduate?
In the short-term, surviving and writing my dissertation. But, in the long-term, I want to continue to make work and, hopefully, a living as an artist. I hope things continue as they have been going, and I can keep the momentum I've gained so far.
What advice do you have for a student applying?
Be prepared to work. Research the Programme and the tutors. Be prepared for a full on but amazing experience.
"It's been a confirmation for me that I'm doing the right thing, that I'm doing what I'm supposed to and I just have to keep doing it."