In 1990, the Aberdonian graduated with a BA (Hons) in Three Dimensional Design, specialising in Jewellery, before venturing down a different route and embarking on a three-decade long career as a Police Officer.
Retiring in 2022, Gill had spent the previous three years developing small sculptural pieces to build up her portfolio for applying for the MA Art & Design course which began in the September of her retirement year.
Now settled back into life at Gray’s, how did she find the reintegration back into higher education?
“Almost everyone else on the course had recently graduated so I did feel I was ‘behind’ so to speak. Formal art education had changed a bit in the 32 years since I left, and I hadn’t been on the Fine Art pathway previously either.
“I think I had to step back and understand how contemporary art is about exploring a theme or issue that might be important to you, or of particular interest, which is quite different from responding to a design brief.
“Doing the course on a full-time basis has meant I’ve completely immersed myself in it and it has allowed me to appraise contemporary art differently; I’ve gone from just wanting to make bigger versions of ideas already formed to being open to new perspectives.
“Sometimes it's as simple as a couple of suggestions from a lecturer to make you really step back, evaluate and move forward, better.”
“I’ve changed direction considerably although I’ve kept some of the ideas I had before coming on the course, I’ve just developed them differently.
Gill’s final project, which will be on display during the Gray’s Master’s Degree Show, explores a range of themes.
“From the broad theme of place, time and memory, I’ve been looking at the ageing or degradation of materials in the built-environment, like geology, but of buildings and infrastructure. Connected to the theme I’m using materials used in the construction setting, such as mortar and rebar.
“Although I work in 3D and forms are the most important aspect, most of my research has been photography-based which has really developed my interest in surface texture and colour.”
Second time round, Gill has again enjoyed her time at Gray’s School of Art and is looking forward to another new adventure very soon as the family move south to London.
“I feel that in terms of developing I’ve come far in a short but very concentrated timescale which I wouldn’t have done so just working at home, in isolation. I’ve also met some fantastic people and developed some friendships that will hopefully last long after the course is finished.
“Finding studio space there [in London] is not easy and is costly, but I intend to carry on making work and seeking opportunities to exhibit. One of the biggest challenges facing artists nowadays, in common with everyone else, is working sustainably, particularly finding more environmentally friendly alternatives to some of the materials we use.
“I’m looking forward to this new chapter but will be sad to leave Gray’s. I waited so long for the opportunity to return and I’m so glad I did.”
Image credit: Nicole Paterson, Photographic Technician at Gray's School of Art.