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Close-up of an abstract, colourful painting.

Clare Guest – "It’s about being in the moment of the making"

With a move to Bournemouth and with my children grown up, I decided to take the plunge to do what I enjoy the most: pursuing a career in art a little more seriously.


I’ve always been creative, and although I chose a career as a hairdresser when I left school and not a career as an artist, I’ve always been drawn back to it, from crafting at home to taking short courses.

With AUB being so close, I had no excuse. It seemed like the perfect opportunity and the right time, so with some encouragement from friends and family five years ago, I began my creative journey with the Foundation course and I haven’t looked back since. Being a mature student, I was slightly apprehensive at first, but soon felt welcome and part of a great community at AUB.

On BA (Hons) Fine Art, I chose the sculpture pathway because of my passion of working with materials. Having the studio space to work and experimenting with such a wide variety of materials – from clay, plaster, and resin – I was in my element. Although we had lockdowns during second year, a trip to Venice in first year and our final shows were very memorable.

MA Painting is predominantly practical-based and self-led, which really appealed to me, as I could experiment new techniques. It’s led by excellent tutors and visiting tutors, all of whom give you the encouragement and the insightful knowledge you need to develop your practice, with regular tutorials, critiques, workshops and lectures.

My work is process-led. It’s about being in the moment of the making, influenced by the capabilities of the materials. The paint takes me on a journey across the canvas. My abstract style explores colour, spontaneity, and gesture, where forms slowly evolve, often leading to surprising results.

The ever-changing landscape is also an inspiration, with a residential trip to Eggardon Hill and a day visit to the Duropolis archaeological site with Bournemouth University (both in Dorset) influencing my work, especially with initial sketches. I also take inspiration from many artists, more recently the abstract women artists from the 1950s and '60s, as well as contemporary artists such as Pam Evelyn.

Being given our own studio space in Bournemouth town centre, away from campus, was a bonus. It made me feel much more independent, enabled me to focus on what I wanted, and gave me the opportunity to make larger pieces. The studios are a great environment to be in – to be with like-minded students and to give each other feedback, but also to push yourself, to come out of your comfort zone sometimes.

The most rewarding part was working together towards curating our own exhibitions. This was not only a great experience, but it helps to prepare you on your next artistic journey on a more professional level once you leave.

My advice to students would be to fully embrace everything on offer to you and to make good use of the studio space, which is a valuable asset to the course.

Something to think about

If you liked this post you might be interested in MA Painting