City Lit Blog

Q&A with Keith Clapson - Foundation art and design diploma

Story added 13th Mar 2019

Ceramics, Keith Clapson 2019


With this year’s Foundation art and design exhibition opening later this month, we caught up with exhibiting student Keith Clapson to find out more about his work, experience of the course and plans for the future. CLFAD19100 - Art Foundation Show 2019 is taking place at The Menier Gallery from Wednesday 27 - Saturday 30 March 2019.

What inspired you to sign up to the City Lit Foundation art and design diploma?
I suffered with disabling OCD for 19 years, in 2017 I spent 4 months at The Bethlem Hospitals Anxiety Disorders Residential Unit (ADRU), this was for me a life changing experience, while there I took part in art classes within the Occupational Therapy departments, with their support I was encouraged to think about trying to further my study, together we found the foundation course at City Lit.  Initially I was turned down for Foundation as it was so soon after discharge from hospital, at the time I was disheartened, but in hindsight realise this was the right decision for me and shows how much the tutors really look after our well-being.  Instead I joined the weekly evening Portfolio Course as a taster, at the end of this I was immediately accepted for Foundation. 

What was your background prior to signing up to your course at City Lit?
I had no prior formal education background in art, at the age of 43 I had never sat an exam or even written an essay, I had not been in the education system since I was 15.  City Lit has been incredibly supportive and, they assessed I was dyslexic, something that had never been picked up before, I was offered weekly writing support sessions, which were useful and incredibly enlightening. 

Have you always had a passion for art and design, or is it something that has developed more recently?
I would say that I have always been artistic and had an appreciation for art, architecture, design, fashion and film, but the Foundation course has totally opened my eyes and brain to a while new world, and I adore it. To my complete surprise whilst on the Foundation course I have developed an absolute passion for ceramics.

Ahead of the forthcoming exhibition, can you tell us a little more about your final project and the influences behind it?
My initial thoughts and concept for this project developed in my mind during term 3, where I repeatedly cut my fingers while removing heavily glazed vessels from saggars, to continue working was an enormous personal achievement for me.  For this reason, my proposal is to have a selection of ceramic vessels displayed of a tactile nature with the possible working title “Please Do Touch”.  The aim of the project is for people visiting the show to touch, ‘contaminate my work’ with their hands.  This relates to and involves my recovery from OCD, the power of art and the usual inability to touch ceramic work in galleries.  I hope to invite current residents of the unit I was treated at to come to the show as part of their ongoing treatment and touch my work, bringing my story full circle, from illness, treatment and recovery, to hopefully inspiring and helping those still suffering through my art. 

How has the course transformed your approach to your work? Has it helped you with mapping out your future goals in any way?

My ceramic style has developed into a consistent process of glazes and colours, including; metals, burning copper through firing, thick gloopy glass and glaze, textures that are rough, smooth and shiny.  The Foundation course has changed my life for the better. 

What’s the dynamic like on the course?
It’s fantastic, we have formed a great bond, we support each other and enjoy spending time out of college with each other.  When have what’s app groups for support, advice and lots of laughs.  It has been amazing to spend time with such a hugely diverse group of students, the hugely broad range of ages makes this course exceptional to, to work with and learn from older and much younger than me is incredibly inspiring. 

What’s the best thing about studying at City Lit?
The tutors, the students, the whole course experience has been the second most life changing experience for me after recovery at Bethlem,  I cannot believe how lucky I have been to not only find my way through the disciplines and learn so much, but the expertise, knowledge and skills from the wonderful tutors, on top of that to have made new friends and be around an amazingly talented group of people in my foundation year, I have had so much laughter and fun that I wasn’t expecting.

Finally, have you got any exciting plans going forward?
I would like to build and develop my knowledge of the ceramic creative discipline, I feel that there is a world of creativity to discover of which I have only just touched the surface.  As a result, my aim is to apply for the 2-year City Lit foundation in ceramics course which starts later this year. 

Follow Keith on Instagram.

CLFAD19100 - Art Foundation Show 2019

A free exhibition, showcasing work by emerging artists, designers and makers as they conclude their year of intensive creative study on the City Lit Foundation Diploma in Art & Design

From drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture and ceramics, to textiles, animation, illustration and digital installation, the show will present an array of contemporary work that reflects each exhibitor’s individual interests, passions and creative concerns.

Wednesday 27 - 30 March 2019

Private view Wednesday 27 March, 18:00-20:30

Thursday 28 March, 11:00-18:00

Friday 29 March, 11:00-20:30

Saturday 30 March, 11:00-14:00

Menier Gallery, 51 Southwark Street, London, SE1 1RU