A black and white image shows the artist looking over small figure like statues on small woden plint. The artist is holding the object on the furthest left, as if to move it.

Jeffrey Knopf in the studio, photography by Helen Mary.

In The Studio: Graduate Scholar Jeffrey Knopf

With applications for the 22/23 Graduate Scholarship Programme now open (delivered in partnership with Castlefield Gallery) this month Graduate Associate Rowan Pritchard spoke with current graduate scholar Jeffrey Knopf. Graduating from MA Contemporary Fine Art in 2021, Knopf was awarded a studio space at Paradise Works here in Salford as part of a bespoke scholarship. We caught up with him at his studio for our ongoing ‘In the Studio’ feature.  

Hi Jeffrey, first of all, can you tell us a little about your creative practice?

My current practice involves the use of 3D scanning and printing technology. The end product being printed sculptures / components which I then juxtapose and balance with handmade and found items, to form new dialogues that question the human condition, fragility, loss, death and mental health. I am especially interested in the concepts of defamiliarisation and making the known become something other than what we recognise. 

Jeffrey Knopf in the studio, photography by Helen Mary.

As a 2021 graduate of the MA Contemporary Fine Art course, you were the recipient of the single MA graduate scholarship awarded. How have you found the scholarship programme so far?

The scholarship programme so far has been really good, I have had some really good one to one coaching sessions with Jo Clements as well as sessions with Matthew Pendergast, Deputy Director and curator at Castlefield Gallery.

A standout moment for me was being able to be part of Paradise Works open studio weekend. This was important as it gave me a chance to properly curate and showcase my work in my studio and to see some of my sculptures all set up together for the first time. I also really got a lot from the studio visits, seeing other scholars’ work practices and getting feedback on my own work, it gave me a lot to think about and ideas to put into action.

Even though the programme is nearing an end we still have a lot more to do including the mentor part of the programme which I am especially looking forward to. All I can say is that at this point I have gained a lot out of the experience so far.

Work in Jeffrey Knopf’s studio at Paradise Works, 2021-22. Image courtesy the artist.

And over the course of the programme so far, how do you feel your work has developed?

My work is constantly developing as I’m always striving to learn new skills and push it further but thanks to the studio space in Paradise Works I am able try out new ideas. I have to say that after Christmas I felt totally deflated and lost with what I was doing, I then had one of those light bulb moments where quite a few things slipped in to place and I’m excited to see what comes next.

Details of work in wood and plastic, Jeffrey Knopf, 2021-22. Photography by Helen Mary.

That’s great to hear! We’re excited to see what comes next too – Are you working on anything at the moment?

I’m currently working towards an exhibition with the ceramic artist Angela Tait at the Gallery Frank Littleborough in October. I am also embarking on a collaboration with the artist Alan Baker based on the idea of traps.

Display of Knopf’s recent work in the studio, 2021-22. Photography by Helen Mary.

As part of the scholarship programme, the collection will be acquiring some of your work. What does it mean to you to have your work in the University Art Collection?

From the start this has been really important to me, it’s up there with me getting a distinction for my MA, it feels like after 30 years of being an artist I have finally arrived. A piece of my work will be in a recognised collection.  

And have you thought at all about what you might want that piece to be? And how this might represent your practice?  

I have thought about this quite a bit since starting the project, the problem is I’m always producing work. I would like to work with the University of Salford Art Collection in the choosing of a piece or a collection of pieces of my work. I see this as a kind of snapshot moment, I want it to be representative of where I am at this point in my artistic career / journey.

Work in wood, brick, brass, pewter, and plastic, 2021-22. Photography by Helen Mary.

Finally, with applications for the 2022/23 Graduate Scholarship Programme now open, do you have any advice for students who might be thinking of applying?  

My main answer is apply, as you have to be in it to win it, but what a great opportunity to be a part of! 

I very nearly did not apply, and now I’m so glad I did. I have to say as with all things in life you really only get out of it what you put in. I know for many it is hard to juggle art and work life, but this really is an exception, you may never get another chance to take part in something like this. Each part of this program is carefully thought out by the team of people involved to help you as a graduate artist to gain the confidence, skills, and the contacts to progress further in your artistic journey post university.  

I think you can tell from this I am really grateful to have been given the chance to be part of this, so I would like to take the opportunity here to say thank you to all those involved. 

Jeffrey Knopf in the studio, photography by Helen Mary.

Jeffrey Knopf’s art practice is interested in the past, present, and future, a scattering of forgotten memories and discarded components; these are then offset with scanned and 3D printed artifacts from museum collections. He is an artist interested in the creation of objects, and has exhibited work here in the UK, Switzerland, and the USA. During the past few years, he has moved away from the traditional way of working by sketching and designing a piece to something more intuitive in line with play and discovery.  

The sculptures / assemblages serve as reminders of fallen empires, the fragments of which are found online or scanned directly from museum collections, to be taken apart and reassembled to create new forms and dialogues. Balanced and teetering on the edge of collapse, the sculptures/ assemblages are a metaphor for how fragile the interaction of technology, humans and the world is, reminding us to slow down and take stock of what we have in front of us and what can be lost over time.  

www.jeffreyknopf.co.uk / @jeffrey_knopf

Applications are now open for the 2022/23 Graduate Scholarship Programme.
Deadline 9.00am Monday 23rd May 2022
Click here for all the information and how to apply.