AN award-winning former fine art student from The Northern School of Art’s Middlesbrough campus has seen his creativity flourish during the pandemic after being selected to be part of a prestigious network of sculptors.

Connor Shields, who studied on the School’s Extended Diploma Fine Art course at its FE base in Green Lane from 2013 to 15, has created a series of new work after being chosen to be part of the prestigious Sculpture Network 2020 at the start of the summer.

His works include ‘Manhandle’, 2020 (concrete block, steel grab handle, screws), ‘Stack’ and a currently untitled work the name of which will be announced on his website once titled.

The Sculpture Network, launched by Yorkshire Sculpture International to support artists and the development of their practice, provided four months’ support for a group of twenty-two Yorkshire-based artists working in sculpture.

Throughout the period, the artists attended fortnightly online meet-ups facilitated by an invited lead artist, curator, writer or researcher.

The focus was on caring for artists throughout the uncertain and immediate future, taking a holistic approach to how they could be supported in their practice as well as their well-being.

Connor, who is originally from Middlesbrough, said: “I was extremely grateful to have been selected to be part of Yorkshire Sculpture International’s Sculpture Network.

“As I recently moved to Leeds, this is a great networking opportunity for me to connect with other artists in Yorkshire with sculptural practices. It has also maintained some degree of structure in my life during the pandemic as I’m continuing to develop my practice.”

The winner of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s first ever Graduate Award and Residency in 2018, Connor is keen to encourage others who are considering studying a creative subject.

He said: “'Studying fine art completely changed my perception of what art can be.

“I wouldn’t be making the work I do today, and be able to engage with these opportunities, had I not studied the subject at a FE and HE level.”

Yorkshire Sculpture International is a unique collaboration between four of Yorkshire’s leading art institutions – the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds Art Gallery, The Hepworth Wakefield and Yorkshire Sculpture Park - who work together to promote sculpture in the region.

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