Student News

United Kingdom #6: Discovering Our Artistic Talents

Paulina Baltazar – June 18, 2018

The following reflection comes from Cynthia Lugo ’20, who was struck by the work of Tamuna Sirbiladze whose work is currently on exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery in London. Before reading Cynthia’s reflection, we’ve decided to provide a little bit more context of Sirbiladze’s work by including the gallery’s description as stated in the exhibition guide:

“Tamuna Sirbiladze’s canvases convey an intimate, unavoidable physicality. She paints romanticized images of faceless naked women, bleeding, defecating and vomiting, a kind of scrapbook of acts that are not particularly taboo but are not the most obvious subjects for an artist to focus on. There is a raw frankness to her characters that goes beyond their crude, puerile figuration; they at once conflate the imagery of pornography and primeval ritual within scenes that hint at the diaristic and a wide range of emotional states[…]The exact meaning of these unflinching works is left open and made even more ambiguous by their poetic titles.”

“Woah…” I stood in front of a big painting at the Saatchi Gallery, speechless and shocked at the rawness and crudity of the image. A naked woman bent over a sink throwing up. All around the room were similar paintings: naked women being burnt to a crisp at the beach, defecating, bleeding… I shuddered again and walked to the next room after drawing a quick sketch of the vomiting woman.

Again, I was fascinated by the messages behind every work of art in the next exhibit, which was about self-identity and controlling emotions. I shook my head and smiled to myself, realizing how fortunate I am to have seen so many beautiful works of art at four galleries and counting and all for (how awesome!) free.

After about another half hour, we left the gallery. Next stop: the Chelsea Physic Garden. After a few rides on the underground tubes and double-decker buses, we walked into the garden. It was absolutely beautiful! The place was saturated with so many bright colorful flowers and rich shades of green from all different kinds of plants.

My first thought was “Oh this spot right here is perfect for water coloring!” After a whole week of nonstop drawing and painting, all I could think about was sketching everything I saw. And that’s exactly what we all did.

I sat down underneath the shade of a huge tree and painted four different flowers. I looked up to see my fellow trip mates doing the same all around the garden. It felt so peaceful and calming. At that moment there was no place I’d rather be.

After lunch, we took a three hour art class where we learned how to draw… drum roll, please!… naked people. When our model first took off his shorts and shirt, I jumped back in surprise. He started tugging at his black underwear, and I quickly rushed to cover my eyes. Please, don’t do it!!!! I’m not ready!!!! After a few seconds of fright, I peeked through my fingers and relaxed. Phew! I sighed, relieved to see his boxers were not going anywhere. As the class went on, I was amazed at how quickly all of us were learning and how quickly we were all building more confidence. We did all sorts of activities and learned so many skills from our teacher, Josie. The class was filled with lots of laughter, and although we were off to a slow start, by the end none of us wanted to leave the classroom.


We walked over to a church and went inside. Here we set up our individual exhibitions. Each person had three to five photos of the art we have done on this trip so far. After everyone was done setting up, we took a gallery walk around in silence, writing compliments for each person on post-it notes and sticking them up next to their art. Afterwards, we all presented our art to the group one by one.

Listening to my friends talk about their work and seeing everything they have done made me so happy. All of us were so talented in different areas, improving in other areas, and helping one another along the way. We were experimenting with new mediums and discovering who we are as artists.

Once the day was over, I lay in bed thinking about everything that had happened on this trip. Everyday has been filled with learning and improvement, and just as much with fun, laughter, and smiles. We were all doing what we loved most. What else can we ask for?