Graduate Residents reflect on their time at KARST

Mitzi Dabrowski and Ashanti Hare (left to right) have come to the end of their graduate residency at KARST. We asked them to reflect on their experience having a studio at KARST and presenting the work they developed over the residency in their Test Space – Recorded Offerings.


How has having a studio at KARST changed how you work as an artist?

Mitzi Dabrowski: Having a studio at KARST has given me a bridge between graduating and the rest of my career as an artist by giving me that allocated space to continue pushing my practice and maintain a constant thread of making work. It has also given me the chance to adjust my practice to my new surroundings of Plymouth, which is something I intend to involve in my work whenever I move. It allowed me to translate my experiences of music venues in the city, therefore creating a new body of work that I can compare to my past projects with music venues in Bath and Bristol.

Ashanti Hare: Having a studio at KARST has given me the space to explore the way I think and approach making work in a new way. It has been a freeing experience in that I have been able to focus on specific areas of interest and research while also honing new skills that I previously had little time for. It has also broadened my creative network and put me in contact with some great artists/creatives that I look forward to working with in the future.


How was your experience of Test Space?

MD: Being able to use the Test Space at KARST provided a space to experiment with making large scale works as well as play with the positioning of my work in such a blank space. Working alongside the other graduate resident Ashanti was also such a positive experience where we could learn more about each other’s practice, while also curating together and finding harmonies in the way we both approach research through mark-making. Having the chance to take the eclectic collection of works I created throughout the residency and show them outside of the studio also encourage me to bounce ideas and concepts off of those that came to see the Test Space, and gain inspiration that is fuelling my last few weeks at KARST following the Test Space, as well as after I leave.

AH: Having a Test Space allowed me to think about how I see and interact with white spaces. Going forward I will think about how to incorporate space in the creation of work rather than it be just a place to show things; this is something I started to implement during the residency with the filming of a performance. This gave a new context and dimension to the work which was interesting. I’m an avid supporter of Test Space.


What is next for your practice?

MD: The next stage of my practice is pursuing my study of crowds at gigs and specific music venues, while also incorporating more of my expressive paintings into the forefront of my practice, as my time at KARST reunited my love for more expressive, personal paintings that have more references to my personal life. I will be moving back to Hertfordshire and therefore adjust my research into my experience of gigs there, while also continuing to look for opportunities to make large scale sculpture experiments and engage with studio spaces and galleries there.

AH: The residency reawakened my interest in ceremonial garments and ritual and how this is expressed across multiple cultures as a form of celebration. Furthering my research into these rich cultural histories, traditions and rituals through costume and performance feels like a natural progression within my practice. I’m in the process of creating a series of costumes that will be part of a performance film around decolonising history and rooting it magick.


What piece of advice would you give to the next set of KARST Graduate Residents?

MD: My advice for future KARST graduate residents is to say yes to opportunities and make the most of your time at KARST, particularly if you (like me) are living in Plymouth for the duration of the residency. Taking part in a studio crit with Than Hussein Clark from BAS9 in November gave me the chance to discuss my new works and ideas and really shaped how I thought about my practice and what a finished piece of work is. Involve your work or research with the culture of Plymouth, and pursue any experiments you can only do with a designated studio space. There is such a large community of creative people in the area so don’t be afraid to collaborate and get in touch with others. P.S. give yourself days off from going to the studio and working too.

AH: Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to think about the end result of the residency. Use this time to have fun with what you’re creating and follow your heart. There aren’t any rules and that can be kind of scary as a recent graduate but if you approach it with playfulness and curiosity then it will be very rewarding. My advice is to play!