fbpx Banks Mill Welcomes Student Residency Winners | Banks Mill Studios
Student residency winners from left to right: Sofia Rodrigues, Sarah Blandford, Gemma Woolley, Amy Vallance and Charlie Collins

Banks Mill Welcomes Student Residency Winners

Thu, 29/07/2021 - 12:10

We are excited to announce the five winners of our new student residency award.  Our residency winners will be provided with access to a shared studio space with free rent for a year, during which they will be able to develop their creative practice and explore a self-employment pathway.  The winners will be participating in the University’s Be The Boss programme, and will have access to all of the opportunities and support services that Banks Mill residents have, enabling them to develop their skills and knowledge and build their own connections within this professional creative community.  

As part of the residency the group will engage in opportunities to speak to current students from the School of Arts about their journey and their experience of exploring freelancing and self-employment.  The residency will be completed by July 2022 and will close with the group curating and delivering their own show in the Banks Mill foyer in August 2022.

Amy Vallance, one of our awardees, incorporates mental health research into her work. Using macrame, wool art, and ceramics, the Deans Award winner focuses on how she can use her work to influence and encourage people to talk about their issues. Amy is currently studying a BA (Hons) Fine Art degree at the University, and it is her talent and tenacity that led to her being commissioned by Derby Live to create a public sculpture based on the Silk Mill. Visit Amy's social channels to learn more about her and her work on Instagram and Facebook.

Another winner, Gemma Woolley has recently completed a BA (Hons) Creative Expressive Arts, Health & Wellbeing degree here at Derby. In addition to being a practising artist, Gemma is a creative arts and wellbeing practitioner who employs a strength-based rehabilitation approach. Art has always been a constant in her life, serving as a source of self-care and support, promoting growth. Though she favours sensuous materials such as clay, plaster and soft pastels in her work, Gemma has always worked with numerous mediums. Winning the Claire Gaskin Award for Exceptional Artwork in both 2016 and 2018, Gemma already has a wealth of success and experience. To see Gemma’s work and keep up to date, visit her Instagram.

Masters Film & Photography student Sarah Blandford is another creative joining our community at Banks Mill. Born and raised in the Peak District, Sarah has previously worked as a PA while raising her family; it wasn’t until later she decided she wanted to progress in a career of photography. After graduating from the BA (Hons) Commercial Photography degree, Sarah continued with MA Film & Photography where she developed her skills in portrait, landscape, still life and lifestyle photography. Making a name for herself, Sarah has won a number of awards including the student category in the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year. To see Sarah’s work visit her socials on, Instagram, Facebook and her website.

Sofia Yala Rodrigues is a visual artist who divides her time between England and Portugal. Yala artwork explores archival material combined with unexpected encounters in life. Her recent series of portraits weaves layers of identity and memory. Yala's art conveys storytelling bringing in different, times, textures and layers. With previous studies in African Studies and Anthropology, Sofia is currently developing her practice with the MA Film & Photography degree, keeping her work with the photographic medium alongside other format and compositions. Sofia has a wealth of experience and success and recently won the John E. Wright Prize from Format Festival 2021. To follow Sofia, visit her website and Instagram.

Another of our winners is BA (Hons) Illustration student, Charlie Collins. Charlie is inspired by alternative publishing and aims to create work that allows the spectator to become a collaborator rather than just a consumer. She wants to combine and rework classic and contemporary illustration approaches and explore sustainable ways to create her work. As well as being an illustrator, Charlie is also a writer and curator as well as a director of 'No Jobs in the Arts', a platform that supports East Midland’s based emerging creatives. Currently, Charlie acts as a freelance illustrator as well as founder and curator of Derbyshire Zine Library. Over the last few years the Derby student has acquired a wealth of experience and has taken part in many exhibitions including the Macclesfield Print Fair and Buxton Spa Prize Exhibition. To see Charlie’s work visit her website and follow her socials on Instagram and Facebook.

Laura Williams, Banks Mill Manager comments: “Having this opportunity gives each of our residency winners a chance to make new networks and collaborate with other artists while developing their own artform with all the help they need on hand. Though this residency will aid each artist in different ways, each agrees that having a base at Banks Mill will enable them to push themselves out of their comfort zones, hear new perspectives, gain expertise in their individual fields and begin to grow in a professional manner. We look forward to having them as part of our Banks Mill community”.

Pictured from left to right: Sofia Yala Rodrigues, Sarah Blandford, Gemma Woolley, Amy Vallance and Charlie Collins



  • Dawn Wesselby won the Student Residency in 2022. She has developed her artistic potential with the support availabl… https://t.co/QjdVIzaXf5 1 year 2 weeks ago