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Vivian Ross-Smith solo exhibition explores touch, care and place

18 Jan 2024 4 minute read
Holding Place. All Images: Sarah Grounds

Artist Vivian Ross-Smith, the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s Freelands Fellow, has launched a groundbreaking solo exhibition at Stiwdio Griffiths in Swansea.

Holding place aims to explore touch, care, and place. This new body of work, which can be viewed until January 26, is the culmination of Vivian’s time as Freelands Foundation Studio Fellow at Swansea College of Art.

The University is one of six universities across the UK hosting the prestigious Freelands Studio Fellowship. The successful Fellows are based at their host university for a full calendar year. They are provided with a studio within the Fine Art department, access to workshop and library facilities and supported by a teaching mentor.


The focus of the Fellowships is on sustained development of practice, alongside which Fellow’s support with teaching the current students at their host university.

Vivian Ross-Smith is being mentored by Professor of Fine Art – Course Director, Sue Williams. Vivian, who grew up in Fair Isle, uses physical and digital spaces to make painting, performance, and textile work. She has a Master’s with Distinction from Glasgow School of Art (2020) and a BA (Hons) from Gray’s School of Art (2013).

Vivian’s practice explores an infatuation with materiality, she engages with making through rhythmical, bodily processes, resulting in visceral outcomes that are to be felt, experienced, and worn. Heavily influenced by her perspective as an island artist, Ross-Smith’s work considers communal acts of gathering and making that explore themes of place, community, care, comfort, accessibility, and communication.

Holding Place. All images: Sarah Grounds

Vivian said: “My time as Fellow at Swansea College of Art has supported my practice in new and incredible ways. I have thoroughly enjoyed working within the Fine Art department, focussing on the progression of my work and research, and supporting the excellent students to develop their artistic voice.

“I am proud to present my solo show ‘Holding Place’ as a tactile offering back to the art school and community of Swansea that has become so important to me.”

Professor Sue Williams said: “To be part of the Freeland’s Studio Fellowship has been an exceptional opportunity for our Fine Art course and Vivian Ross-Smith, being our first Fellow, has certainly become an intrinsic part of the department. The introduction of a Fellow within our course has added a unique voice and perspective.

“The students have engaged thoroughly with Vivian and have gained greatly from her involvement, not only in their studios but within her studio. This open invitation to Vivian’s working environment has enabled students to appreciate what a studio practice will entail in the future. We will certainly be sorry to see Vivian leaving us and wish her all the best for the future.”


Caroline Thraves, Academic Director Art, and Media said: “We are delighted to be hosting Vivian as a Freelands Fellow within Swansea College of Art (UWTSD). This prestigious Fellowship is hosted by a small number of universities and so this demonstrates the excellence of Fine Art at Swansea College of Art.”

During their Fellowship, Fellows visit two other universities taking part in the programme as a visiting lecturer working with students and staff. Each Fellow receives a bursary of £22,000 for the duration of the Fellowship. They work towards a solo exhibition, housed by their host university.

The programme is a partnership between Freelands Foundation and the universities, who work together to develop the programme, with the Foundation providing the funding and infrastructure and the universities overseeing the individual fellowships, as well as recruiting and supporting the artists.

The Fellowships conclude with a group exhibition in Spring 2024, held at the Freelands Foundation gallery in London, showcasing the work of that year’s fellows. This exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue that includes critical writing: an opportunity for visibility and critical discourse at a significant point in their early career.

For more information see

All images credit: Sarah Grounds


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