PhD student Veronica Kent

Q&A: Veronica Kent, artist and PhD student

In our guest post series, we invite alumni, staff and current students to reflect on their time with the VCA. This week we interview artist and PhD student Veronica Kent.

By Alix Bromley

About Veronica

Veronica Kent is a Melbourne-based artist with a practice incorporating photography, digital imaging, painting, drawing, video and performance. Kent’s works explore ideas of image, beauty, and intangible psychic energy, as they shift and change through time and space. A recurring theme across her work is the visual representation of invisible forces such as telepathy and love and her practice incorporates wide research and investigation into myriad periods of art history and visual culture.

Veronica is currently represented by Fehily Contemporary and is a studio artist at Gertrude Contemporary. She is undertaking a PhD at the Victorian College of the Arts, in collaboration with the School of Art and the Centre for Ideas. This July, she exhibits her latest work, The Telepathy Project, at the Margaret Lawrence Gallery.

Student Q&A

Tell us about the pathway you took to the VCA.

I came to VCA as a mature age student in my early 30s with two young children. At 30 I started a ceramics course at a TAFE in Lismore in Northern New South Wales and after one semester was enjoying it so much that I applied and was accepted into a Visual Art BA at Southern Cross University (also in Lismore). After spending two years there I decided I wanted more from my university experience and to be a in a larger city with a healthy art scene so I applied to VCA and was accepted into the Photography department and moved with my family to Melbourne. I received some credit for my previous study (History and CFI) allowing me more time to spend in my studio studies.

Tell us about your current research project.

My practice led PhD is concerned with the problems and poetics of telepathy and is grounded in an ongoing collaborative work by me and my friend Sean Peoples called The Telepathy Project. It investigates ways of knowing and seeks to draw out a range of interrelated questions on perception, collaboration and interpretation.

'The Telepathy Project Forum Performance’ for the 2008 Next Wave Festival. Sean Peoples and Veronica Kent, photo credit The Telepathy Project
‘The Telepathy Project Forum Performance’ for the 2008 Next Wave Festival. Sean Peoples and Veronica Kent, photo credit The Telepathy Project

The thesis comprises two interrelated parts: An exhibition of artwork generated by and in response to telepathic prompts and processes, including telepathic events made with people from around the world at varying physical distances and degrees of intimacy. These attempts/events manifest as curatorial projects, performances, conversations, lectures, photographic tableaus, drawings, paintings, dream interventions and group wall drawings. The second part of the thesis comprises a written dissertation that responds to and expands on the practice led research byintroducing a range of thinkers, writers and artists who approach telepathy in their work. In particular it is concerned with the ways Sigmund Freud and Jacques Derrida apprehended and deployed telepathy in their writing.

Tell us about what inspires you.

My family, my friends, other artists and their work, my imagination and other stories.

Describe a typical day for you at the VCA.

My studio is not on campus so I only go to the VCA to meet with my supervisors, attend symposiums, access the printer and to visit exhibitions at the Margaret Lawrence Gallery. A typical day/night in my studio involves various combinations of reading, writing and making.

What are the challenges?

Making in the studio is a constant challenge and critical argument with myself, and the thing that I am making.

However the writing of the thesis is the biggest challenge! After years of training as an artist -in visual literacy and critical thinking – the expectation that we also have to explain/support our visual work in a written thesis is both frustrating and a challenge.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in this field?

It was the only place flexible, idiosyncratic and challenging enough to keep me enthralled and on my toes.

What do you enjoy most about your field of research?

Looking for and finding relationships to telepathy in the strangest places

Collaborating with other artists

Tell me about a career/study highlight

Study Highlights  Honours, Receiving the APA, my confirmation as a PhD Candidate and my PhD examination Exhibition at the Margaret Lawrence Gallery that brings together he last four years of work.

Career Highlights – Making and Exhibiting new work and the ongoing conversations around this my my peers. My time away on the Australia Council Barcelona Residency, the Dowd Athens residency and my time in London and Vienna working at the Freud Museums – so fortunate to be able to travel, research and make new work with financial support. Gaining representation with Fehily Contemporary and my involvement as a board member of West Space (an Artist Run Gallery in Melbourne) and moving into my beautiful big studio at Gertrude Contemporary.

'Sunny’, 2010, Digital Print, Crystal, Oak. 100cm x 100cm, Veroncia Kent
‘Sunny’, 2010, Digital Print, Crystal, Oak. 100cm x 100cm, Veroncia Kent

What are your goals for the next few years?

Finish my PhD! To work hard and push myself in the studio, travel and make the best exhibitions I can.

How will your VCA experience help you succeed in your chosen field?

The training in critical thinking is the bedrock of my day to day decision making in the studio + the wonderful network of colleagues and friends made at the VCA who I will continue to work with and alongside for the rest of my career.

Tell us about your favourite memory from the VCA? 

My honours year. The hard work, the breakthroughs and the camaraderie.

With whom do you still stay in contact?

Favourite lecturers and a large group of alumni who are now my colleagues.

What advice would you give to students who want to pursue a career in your field?

Being an artist is a long-term proposition with no quick fixes and no guarantee of anything like a regular income. You make up your own job description as you go along and the learning never stops. It helps to be self-motivated, inquisitive, thick-skinned and obsessive. Its also really important to value and nurture your peers and colleagues as the art world is a small place, particularly in Australia, and the people you learn from and study with at the VCA, if they pursue a life in the arts, will very likely be your colleagues, your audience, your critics and your greatest support for the rest of your career.

How do you relax outside of study?

Sleep, family, food, wine, travel, reading (non academic texts that is!)

If people want to know more about you, where should they look? i.e. weblinks etc…

A version of this article originally appeared on Channel, the Faculty’s previous publishing platform.