St Helen's artist in residence
Painter and scultor William Cotterill shared his experience and skills with students as our artist in residence 2018-19.
My practice is rooted in object making and exists between painting and sculpture. It explores the anxiety and excitement of being overwhelmed by information, the idea of breakdowns and disrupted narratives, and how matter can express the over-complicated and transitory. In an age of dislocation, attempts to grip hold of a sense of certainty feel vital but almost impossible.
I see the work as a physical manifestation of these struggles: the twisting together and metabolising of different stimuli from art history, popular culture and everyday life. Oil paint and left-over junk from society form a language of stuttering processes. Through layering and concealing, objects are worked on simultaneously, feeding each other in a holistic approach to making that has no hierarchy of materials. I use paint both for its ability to form illusions and as another sculptural medium that can be dug into, carved, woven and excavated.
The fragmented, dislocated forms that emerge could give rise to accidental new narratives. However, their inherent brokenness and ambiguity defies any solid conclusions. I am interested in the feeling of this confusion and uncertainty as a specific, textural place to exist in and to explore.
Working with students
During the year that William Cotterill was artist in residence at St Helen’s he contributed to the Art Department’s work in many different ways. Teaching A-level students studying Fine Art, running a highly successful weekly club for students and staff, workshops for GCSE and Lower Sixth art students as well as giving a highly successful talk on his work and practice as an artist to the whole school.