Alumni in Focus

Claire Bruce

Claire Bruce

In February 2004, Facebook launched for people to share their narratives of the day. But over at Gray’s School of Art, plans were in motion for another portfolio of stories to be shared.

Claire Bruce (Design and Craft, Class of 2004) pulled together a collection of stories about people and characters as part of her Gray’s Degree Show exhibition. She designed and illustrated two books about OCD and beards which were displayed alongside large-scale drawings of people who looked like their pets. 

With an exhibition filled with stories for the public to explore and dissect, hearing observations of those who stopped by was a real highlight for her. And, led onto more ideas for future stories.

She shared: “The buzz around the Art School was brilliant and hearing funny, interesting, positive comments about my work was just amazing. It was the first time I’d ever really shown anything in public, or that anyone had seen any of my work outside of a sketchbook, which was both terrifying and exciting.

“I was chuffed with my final mark and couldn’t believe people would be coming to see my work. I felt a whole host of emotions on the run up to opening night - nervous, excited, overwhelmed! But the biggest thing was that I was looking forward to celebrating an amazing four years with friends and classmates.”

Gray’s Degree Show not only marks the closing of the student experience but a chance to bring together the graduating year, wider student body, staff and the local creative community to celebrate the achievements of the year. For Claire, the week offered her the chance to have conversations with other artists, organisations and potential freelance clients - but her biggest takeaway was the building of confidence. 

Claire explained: “The main thing I was proud of was having a bit of confidence to put myself out there, talk about my work and having the feeling that anything was possible. 

“Our year went on to exhibit work down at New Blood in London and I was selected for a portfolio review which really helped with taking my work forward. Seeing all the other work on display and being in the London environment was also really inspiring.”

With eyes on the future, Claire went on to work in various roles in retail, hospitality and vintage shops alongside her freelance design work. She worked with Grampian Hospitals Art Trust – a charity focused on activating creative projects for the wellbeing of people visiting, working or supported by the services within hospitals and healthcare.

“Working for Grampian Hospitals Arts Trust as its Arts Administrator was a great opportunity for me and totally set me up for where I am now. 

“Shortly after, I met my friend and colleague, Sally Reaper, who I’ve been working collaboratively with for the past 17 years running SMART Art Agency. We’ve worked with some amazing artists and organisations, locally and across the UK and produced art spaces, exhibitions, events, design markets and festivals. Looking back, the skills I learnt throughout my time at Gray’s were easily transferred into my future roles in design, production and arts facilitation.

“I continue to work with Sally today in my current role as Producer & Designer with the brilliant Look Again team at Gray’s – so things have gone full circle!”
To keep up to date with the latest activity from Look Again, visit its website to find out what events and initiatives are on the horizon.

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