From education to employment

Plymouth College of Art awards Honorary Fellowships to Béla Tarr and Pablo Helguera

Principal Professor Paul Fieldsend-Danks addresses the graduates

Honours awarded at Graduation ceremony to leading international filmmaker and artist for their exceptional achievements in the creative arts (@plymouthart)

In a Graduation ceremony at Theatre Royal Plymouth, Plymouth College of Art has awarded Honorary Fellowships to the internationally-celebrated Hungarian filmmaker Béla Tarr, and to New York based artist, performer, author, and educator Pablo Helguera.

Plymouth College of Art awarded an Honorary Fellowship to Béla Tarr in recognition of his outstanding international contribution to film, pushing the boundaries of film-making and education in film, bridging the artistic practice in film, theatre and installation, and his commitment to the idea that human dignity builds a strong foundation for artistic expression.

Plymouth College of Art awarded an Honorary Fellowship to Pablo Helguera in recognition of his outstanding international contribution to the arts, education and public cultural life, through his extensive and far reaching work with installation, sculpture, photography, drawing, socially engaged art and performance.

Over 350 students graduated from a range of undergraduate and Masters-level creative qualifications at Plymouth College of Art, including BA (Hons) Film, BA (Hons) Fashion, BA (Hons) Interior Decoration, Design & Styling and MA Entrepreneurship for Creative Practice, in two ceremonies held at Theatre Royal Plymouth, one of which was attended by the Deputy Lord Mayor of Plymouth

Every year Plymouth College of Art awards Honorary Fellowships to recognise exceptional achievement in the creative arts, as well as recognising individuals that have achieved significant social change through the arts and culture. Both Béla Tarr and Pablo Helguera accepted their Honorary Fellowships remotely, sending video messages of advice and encouragement to the graduates.

Béla Tarr

Béla Tarr is a filmmaker known across the world for his rigorous and pure mastery of cinema. In 2019 the Berlinale Forum initiated the world-wide celebration of the 25th anniversary of his magnum-opus Sátántangó, which was chosen as one of the 50 greatest films of all time in the 2012 BFI Sight and Sound poll. 

Throughout his career, Béla has focused on watching and celebrating people, finding inspiration in illuminating the humanity that he sees. He began his career at sixteen as an amateur filmmaker, later becoming a student of the Academy of Theatre and Film (Színház- és Filmművészeti Egyetem) in Budapest. He became a member of the European Film Academy in 1997 and American Film Academy in 2018.  

He is President of the Hungarian Filmmakers’ Association, a member of the Széchenyi Academy of Letters and Arts, has been given the most prestigious Hungarian prize for artists, the Kossuth Prize, and the Hungarian prize for filmmakers, Balázs Béla Prize. He was named a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres and has been honoured with multiple national and international awards, honorary doctorates and lifetime achievement awards.

Chris Bailey, a Senior Lecturer in Plymouth College of Art’s School of Arts + Media, said:

“Béla Tarr’s work has long been an inspiration for staff and students alike who are keen to explore cinematic craft. Our recent BA (Hons) Film and Screen Arts students have drawn visual references from ‘The Turin Horse’ for their own work and Tarr’s films continue to play an important part in understanding human emotion, time and space. We are thrilled that he has accepted an Honorary Fellowship from Plymouth College of Art and look forward to continuing to inspire students with his work.”

Pablo Helguera

Born in Mexico City, Pablo Helguera is a New York-based artist working with installation, sculpture, photography, drawing, socially engaged art and performance. Helguera’s work focuses on a variety of topics, ranging from history, pedagogy, sociolinguistics, ethnography, memory and the absurd, in formats that include the lecture, museum display strategies, musical performances and written fiction.

His work as an educator has usually intersected his interest as an artist. This intersection is best exemplified in his project, “The School of Panamerican Unrest”, a nomadic think-tank that physically crossed the continent by car from Anchorage, Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. Covering almost 20,000 miles, it is considered one of the most extensive public art projects on record as well as a pioneering work for the new generation of artworks regarded under the area of socially engaged art.

In 2008 Helguera was awarded the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. In 2011 he was named winner of the International Award of Participatory Art of the Region Emilia-Romagna in Italy.

Helguera has worked since 1991 in a variety of contemporary art museums, including as Head of Public Programs at the education department of the Guggenheim Museum in New York (1998-2005). From 2007 to 2020, he was Director of Adult and Academic Programs at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. In 2010 he was appointed Pedagogical Curator of the 8th Mercosul Biennial in Porto Alegre, Brazil. He is currently Assistant Professor of Arts and Entrepreneurship at the College of Performing Arts at the New School in New York.

Dr Natalia Eernstman, Senior Lecturer on Plymouth College of Art’s MA Creative Education: Making Learning, said:

“Pablo’s entire oeuvre and especially his work in and with communities is of great relevance to the college and our student community. Many of our students are making work that engages a wide spectrum of non-artists in creative making and thinking. We praise Pablo’s progressive ideas around art making and education, and see his visions reflected in how we perceive the meaning of the arts and (arts) education in society. We are very excited that through this appointment, Pablo will be able to have a direct influence on the learning journeys of our students.”

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Honorary Fellows at Plymouth College of Art

Past recipients of Honorary Fellowships from the college include: Anne Barlow, Director of Tate St Ives; Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair of Arts Council England; Richard Deacon CBE, the leading British sculptor and Turner Prize winner; British designers and renowned advocates and campaigners for creative education and the creative industries, Sir John Sorrell CBE and Lady Frances Sorrell OBE; Mike Westbrook OBE, renowned musician; Clare Twomey, a leading British ceramics and performance artist; Suki Dhanda, photographer for The Guardian and Observer; Bernard Samuels, former Director of Plymouth Arts Centre; Creative Director of Pentland Brands, Katie Greenyer; independent cultural broker, Peter Jenkinson OBE; children’s artist David McKee; award-winning Creative Director Jo Arscott; Tim and Chris Britton of Forkbeard Fantasy; Dr Amila Ramović, a Curator, Art Producer and Professor at the Academy of Music and Academy of Film at the University of Sarajevo in Bosnia-Herzegovina; Ward Councillor for Burrator on West Devon Borough Council and former Plymouth College of Art Vice Principal  Tim Bolton; Co-Founder, Curator and Editor of Making Futures, Malcolm Ferris; painter Albert Irvin; Joanne Anning, CEO of Jeremiah’s Journey; Louise Tilbury, Plymouth School of Creative Arts Project Manager; Toby Gorniack, Founder of Street Factory; and French glass artist Antoine Leperlier.

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Notable graduating students

Gabe Monteiro, a Portuguese-British illustrator and artist based in Plymouth who is graduating from BA (Hons) Illustration with a First Class degree, was selected as the overall Plymouth College of Art winner of the annual Tate Christmas card commission and competition. His winning ‘Ugh’ design was joined by another of Gabe’s designs, ‘Paper Mistletoe’, which was also selected to go into production and has since sold out on the Tate website.

Textile designer and MA Textile Design graduate Becky Dodman Wainwright unveiled the culmination of her MA research project ‘Tasseography Textiles’ at Ocean Studios in May. Becky, who also lectures on BA (Hons) Textile Design at the college, presented the part-funded Arts Council England project which analysed tea leaf readings of participants to create colour palettes and patterns for co-designed textile artworks. Last year Becky was selected by influential trend forecaster Li Edelkoort as one of 50 ‘top textile students from across the world’ in the international ‘Talking Textiles ‘Generation 2020’ Magazine’ as well as being shortlisted for ‘Making It’, a Devon Guild of Craftmen’s exhibition and development programme celebrating innovation, diversity and collaboration in craft and making in the South West.

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Becky Dodman-Wainwright

Emma Jane Flintham, a BA (Hons) Graphic Communication graduate, was shortlisted for the JDO RAW Award during her first year of study, going on to win the award in her second year with her chocolate creation ‘Algae Cacao’. Since then, Emma has gone on to win the South West Design & Digital Student Award, beating 164 other students to win £1000 in prize money for her concept for a new healthy drink. 

Ceri-Louise Prowse, who graduated from BA (Hons) Digital Media Production with a First Class honours, has been with the college since her time studying an Extended Diploma at the Plymouth College of Art Pre-Degree campus and participating in the 2017 – 2018 BFI Film Academy. Since then, Ceri has worked on directing collaborative movies such as zombie short NOT YOU TOO and contributed to Illuminate Festival 2019, Plymouth’s innovative annual light festival.

Ben Bavin, who graduated from BA (Hons) Ceramics & Glass, created a collection of glass cast 3D printed Venus de Milo statues that were featured by New Designers over the summer. His glitched copies of the famous statue illustrated Ben’s interest in theories around simulacra; creating objects that imitate or replace reality with distorted representations.

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