Alina Ignatjeva: The First Cut competition winner
Alina Ignatjeva has a strong ambition to become an artist, making the decision to move from Latvia to Manchester to pursue her dream. Currently, she studies art at Manchester College and decided to enter Manchester Art Gallery’s The First Cut competition. At just 17 years old her delicate paper shoe design, inspired by the exhibition, is a winning entry.
She has received great praise from tutors, friends and family for her success in the competition, as well as an individual workshop with paper artist Andrew Singleton. Keen to acquire new artistic skills and having faced cultural hurdles and language barriers to pursue her dream, here she shares her story.
Following my passion:
“Education is so important and I like to have knowledge so I wanted to find a really good place to study. I thought to myself maybe one day I will come and study in England, then I decided I didn’t want to waste time anymore so I finally came here. The first day was hard but I have made friends who have really helped me with my English. I like big cities and Manchester has so much to offer. In my childhood I was never a good painter and I didn’t think I was very good at drawing but I really wanted to be able to do it so I just practiced and practiced.”
“For this project I looked at Mia Pearlman and Andrew Singleton. I didn’t want to copy their work but I was inspired by the same things they are inspired by. For example natural forms, like tornados. I think these are metaphors of an artist’s mind – it’s like a whirlwind, what do you want to make? How do you want to make it? It’s important to enjoy making the artwork because you feel like you are alive and a free person; it’s not just about making money.”
Making my paper shoe:
“Making the shoe was like architecture, it was hard because a shoe has no corners. I tried the technique of marbling by taking my own paper and weaving it into other things. The bottom of the shoe is made of paper flowers and on top is acrylic paint. I also scratched a special kind of paper to get an old effect. The focus is on detail as I find detail in other artwork interesting. Inside my shoe is Russian writing not because I want everyone to know I speak Russian but because it is a part of me, a part of my soul in the shoe, and I want to make it interesting for other people.”
Winning the competition:
“It is important to me that I get good grades so I wasn’t thinking about the competition at first but when I won it was amazing! I want to say thank you for this opportunity because it confirms why I came to Manchester. It is hard to balance work with study but winning the competition is great. I’m looking forward to working with Andrew because I really like his work and it will be interesting to use a scalpel. After winning the competition I feel like myself much more. I have always liked art but I have never been sure about my own but now I feel more confident talking about my work. It has also helped me to improve my skills.”
“I would really like to be an artist and this competition has given me confidence that it’s possible. It makes me sad when people don’t see what they have. Don’t think that you won’t be successful, just try one more time. In our world it is difficult but if you want to do it then you can.”
Alina’s paper shoe can be seen in The First Cut gallery space, along with the other winners and runners up works, before being moved to the DAC Beachcroft offices in Spinningfields, after the exhibition closes on January 27th.
Hannah Cook, Manchester Art Gallery Volunteer Intern