Gareth Kemp (Turps Correspondence Course 2014-17)

Gareth Kemp (Turps Correspondence Course 2014-17)

course FAQs

How is the course structured?
The course is designed and structured to be delivered online so that painters, based anywhere in the world and at any stage in their career, can participate and receive informed, critical feedback from a mentor who is practising painter selected by Turps. There are 5 upload deadlines spread across the year that you will upload images and a short statement that your mentor will review and write a written response. It is a very different type of feedback from the more conventional face-to-face tutorial conversations but we believe this is what makes the correspondence course such an appealing and sought after professional development course.  

Why is the course structure into 5 intervals across the year?
The course has been running since 2012 and the feedback that we have received from previous participants is that the structure of the 5 reviews throughout the year has worked very well for them, as it gives enough time between deadlines to digest the review and enough time to make either new work or significant changes to existing work.  By the end of the course you will have 5 essays about your work that you can revisit at any time which, we feel, is very unique to our course.

How long is the course?
The course is 1 year, running from October to September, but many participants choose to stay on for a subsequent year.

How long are the reviews by the mentors?
Reviews can vary in length as we concentrate on quality over quantity.  Each mentor also has their own unique writing style and approach to composing reviews, so we allow that voice to come through in their writing. While there is no minimum or maximum word count, most reviews are between 800-1500 words.

Who are the mentors?
The mentors are all practising artists at different stages of their careers, with their own interests in and ideas about painting.  For a list of current mentors see here

Can I select my mentor?
Mentors are allocated once the deadline for applications has passed. Due to the high numbers of participants, painters on the course cannot be guaranteed a mentor of their own choosing. Each mentor is allocated a specific and limited number of mentees. The mentor allocation is decided by Turps Directors and the Course Co-ordinator and based on multiple factors, such as the work and statement submitted in the application, what the painter is looking to get from the course, and what level they are currently at.

Will I only receive feedback from one mentor? 
No, you will be allocated a regular mentor who will work with you throughout the year.  They will write about your work for Reviews 1, 2, 4 and 5.  For Review 3, the mid-point of the course, you will be allocated a different mentor who will bring a different flavour and perspective to discussing your work.  This gives participants the opportunity to hear other opinions, and in some cases, mentors may disagree with or contradict each other.

Will I ever meet or speak to my mentor face to face?
The course is delivered online between artist and mentor, so there is no direct, face to face or instantaneous exchange.  Your mentor’s review will address any questions or issues you have raised in your statement, as well as offering a critical and measured evaluation of the work.  What we have found over the years the course has been running is that mentor interaction with the artists in this way allows them to be much more objective in their response.  They look at the work, the read the text and they respond directly to that.  The dialogues that we aim to encourage between participant and mentor are not necessarily conversational in the sense that you message back and forth, but to encourage an extended discussion that spans the year.  This allows the artist to absorb what the mentor is saying and to respond, not only in the next statement, but also through the work that is being produced. The conversation supports the studio practice, not the other way round.

How do I communicate with my mentor?
The process of communication is primarily through Private Views and through the Course Co-ordinator.  You upload your images and your text to the appropriate folder on your account by the deadline specified.  Your mentor will look through the material you have uploaded and write their review.  This review is then uploaded to your account by the delivery date which you can then access by signing in to your Private Views account.

What if I don’t understand something my mentor has written?
If you don’t understand a specific point or would like clarification on something your mentor has said you can email the Course Co-ordinator who will contact the mentor on your behalf.  There are several reasons for this process.  Firstly, it allows Turps to centrally monitor the exchanges between participant and mentor.  All the reviews that are submitted by the mentors are proofread and checked by one of the Turps management team before they are uploaded to a participant’s PrivateViews account.  We do this to make sure that a standard of quality that is expected of the mentors is being met and to ensure a level of consistency for the participants.  Secondly, the mentors are all practising artists with many other commitments, and so we also have to take the appropriate steps to ensure that they have sufficient time to write their reviews as well as having time between the review points. 

What if I disagree with what my mentor has said?
The structure of the correspondence course means that you, as a practising painter, can choose to disagree with the advice of your mentor. When you upload your statement you can raise any points from the previous review that you have found challenging and tell your mentor the reasons for this.   The mentor’s role is to advise, support and evaluate the work you present based on their judgement and direct you in a way that they think best serves you and the development of your work.  There may be stylistic differences between a painter and their mentor but the course is designed to challenge participants, so you may be given responses that contradict your own presuppositions about what the work is doing and where it should go.  What we suggest is that if you have an immediate response for your mentor after reading your review, you write it down so when it’s time for the next upload you can use those initial thoughts as a way of composing your next statement.  The ethos of Turps, across the art school, magazine and gallery, is a dialogue from painter to painter.  There is no hierarchy within Turps, so we actively encourage lively debate and critical discussion around an artist’s work.  

What are the fees?
The fees for 2019/20 are £1750.  Turps is not-for-profit organisation so all art school fees are directed back into funding the art school.

How do I apply?
Information on how to apply can be found here

Do I need to have a degree or relevant qualification?
No, Turps welcomes applications from artists of all levels and abilities. Some participants are successful working artists with BAs, MA/MFAs, PhDs, while others have no formal arts education and have been working in other careers. Please contact us if you are unsure if the course is right for you.

Is the course accredited?
No, Turps Art School is not an accredited institution.  We are an independent, not-for-profit organisation. The course fees go back into running the art school.

Can I apply for funding for this course?  Will I be eligible for student discount?
Yes, we are happy to support any application for funding.  Usually this will be a letter of support or a letter confirming that you have been accepted onto the course.  As Turps is unaccredited, you will not be classified as a student, so would not be eligible for any student discounts.

English is not my first language, can I still apply?
Yes, but all correspondence and reviews are in English.

Are there any exhibition opportunities offered?
No. This course is designed for artists based anywhere in the world, so each year we have a high number of artists participating in different parts of the world.  Turps does not have the resources to organise an exhibition that could accommodate showing the work of all participants.  However, in previous years, participants have organised their own shows independently of Turps and we encourage our painters to arrange studio visits, gallery visits and curate exhibitions.