Emmy Award-winning producer and director, Kim Devereux, made the leap and changed careers to become an author after she found she had a talent for writing.
|Degree Course||Master of Arts (Joint Hons Engl. Lit and History of Art)|
|Year of Graduation||1995|
Your time at the University
I remember the cosy, warm feeling of listening to History of Art lectures in a darkened lecture theatre. I loved listening to Patsy Campbell’s dulcet tones and looking at beautiful slides such as the gorgeous Riace bronzes. Those are some works of art that I remember most vividly. I can’t think why… However, for many years, when attending seminars for example, I still had a habit of waiting for lights to go out before being able to listen properly or take notes.
I joined a society called ‘The Brainware Society’. Several of the talks hosted by The Brainware Society remain firmly lodged in my mind. One was about ‘Art and Illusion’, which introduced me to Ernst Gombrich’s concept of the ‘Beholder’s Share’. Gombrich coined the term in his analysis of paintings. He postulates in Art and Illusion, that the artist ‘creates’ and the beholder ‘projects’. Both aspects are equally important and together make up the experience of a work of art. A famous example are the shadows in the corners of the Mona Lisa’s enigmatic smile.
I am very much aware of ‘the reader’s share’ when I write, using metaphors and other means that leave space for the reader’s interpretation. Leaving just the right amount to the reader’s imagination makes a work of art more engaging and it also allows it to act as a kind of mirror. We learn about our own views, beliefs and what we care about. I always feel like I am having a dialogue when I look at one of Rembrandt’s masterpieces. It’s as if it is changing before my eyes. It’s for these reasons that I’ve called my novel Rembrandt’s Mirror.
I was also inspired by talk by a member of the Faculty of Music. All I remember is that he went out to Sarajevo at the time of the war and taught children how to play musical instruments as a form of therapy. This notion of being in a terrible situation but turning to an art form amidst such pressures is something I am interested in exploring in my next novel.
I am very much aware of ‘the reader’s share’ when I write, using metaphors and other means that leave space for the reader’s interpretation. Leaving just the right amount to the reader’s imagination makes a work of art more engaging and it also allows it to act as a kind of mirror.
Tell us about your Experiences since leaving the University
After graduating from university I have worked as a producer and director on documentaries such as the Emmy Award-winning Rx for Survival (PBS) and D-Day (BBC). I have also worked for the London-based film production company, Aria Films. After completing my MA at Edinburgh I went onto study a Masters in Creative Writing at Bath Spa, graduating in 2013. My debut novel, Rembrandts’ Mirror will be published by Atlantic Books on the 5th of August 2015.
My novel is partly inspired by my degree. Studying English Literature enabled me to critically engage with my own writing as well as analyse other authors’ work for inspiration. Of course, with English not being my mother tongue, the other skill I learned is how to write well in English. The History of Art element of my degree taught me how to look at works of art and come to my own conclusions about them and how to research the historical context. Eric Fernie, who was one of my tutors, was an inspiration. I still remember him telling me in one feedback tutorial about my dissertation that what he admired the fact that there was always ‘lots of meat’ in my writing, as he put it. He instilled in me the belief that it was worthwhile to go beyond repeating what others have said and to see things with your own eyes and come to your own conclusions. Funnily enough Rembrandt is said to have suggested to his pupils the same thing and was a master at inventing new techniques depending on what he was trying to achieve.
After graduation I found myself interested in many different things, which is partly why I decided to become a documentary film-maker. But then over the years, as I became used to my identity as a film-maker, I forgot that this was only one of many possible choices. I believed that nothing else could be as ‘right’ for me or as fulfilling.
So I would encourage, anyone, at any point in their lives to keep an open mind about career choices. I embarked on my MA in Creative Writing in 2012 with fairly low expectations and was utterly surprised to find that the medium of writing suited my talents and style much better than the medium of film. So keep an open mind. You might have hidden talents that you have not discovered yet. I only discovered I had a talent for the written word in my mid-forties.