Stamps Artist in Residence: Paul Coldwell
As part of the Stamps School’s ongoing exploration of collaborative opportunities with University of the Arts London, UAL Professor Paul Coldwell was in residence at the Stamps School from October 24 - November 11, 2016. Annie Turpin (Stamps BFA ’18) reports on a presentation Coldwell gave to Stamps students on Thursday, October 27, 2016.
There was a comfortable, friendly feeling in the print studio as Stamps students gathered for a presentation by Paul Coldwell, author, printmaker, sculptor, researcher, and Professor of Art at University of the Arts London (UAL). With admiration, Professor Endi Poskovic introduced Paul both as his friend (the pair initially met serendipitously, on a train to Berlin), and his contemporary. Coldwell, a thoughtfully deliberate speaker, presented a slideshow of his work, primarily prints and sculptures, many of which are held in numerous public collections, including the Tate, Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A), British Museum, Arts Council of England, and the Musee d’art et d’histoire, Geneva.
A holistic look at Coldwell’s work reveals a conceptually rich, practice-based approach to research, resulting in work that takes a variety of physical forms. Deeply interconnected thematic threads link each piece. Whether it’s a print that references the heartbreaking story of a lost explorer, or a sculpture influenced by Sigmund Freud's coat, his work addresses presence, absence, and the relationship between the two. But above all, Paul’s collection of work shows him to be a deeply inquisitive individual, who uses his artistic practice to connect ideas and create meaning. An investigative curiosity vibrates from each piece.
Coldwell spoke generously about the inquiries and interests that drive his process. By assembling bits of information into a single composition, Coldwell prompts viewers to consider association and narrative. Imagine a print of a mountainous landscape with a drawing of a suitcase floating in the center. This sentiment of piecing objects and research together is present in many of Coldwell's projects, even when the works differ in their material form. He describes his dabbling in different media as "high risk" because of its surprise and spontaneity. We cannot predict the physical form that that his explorations will take, and he cannot predict the way we will respond. Coldwell reveres other artists who refuse to be categorized or married to a single focus, like Marcel Duchamp and Bob Dylan.
As a Stamps junior, I too involve myself equally in many practices — I consider myself an illustrator, printmaker, writer, and graphic designer. It was refreshing and a relief to engage with a working artist who is similarly discontent with focusing on one creative practice. During his short classroom talk, I felt an overwhelming sense of belonging. I felt almost fated to this moment and opportunity to connect with an artist whose path is so closely related to the one that I hope to pave myself.
Annie Turpin is junior in Stamps, pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a minor in writing. She is looking forward to studying graphic design abroad at Central Saint Martins next semester. Her work can be viewed at www.annieturpin.com.
Photograph of Paul Coldwell by Stamps Professor Endi Poskovic. Work by Paul Coldwell.