Meet Sophie Ash, mogul skiier and animation student

Screenshot from Start Gate (2019). Image Supplied.
Screenshot from Start Gate (2019). Image Supplied.

Sport and animation are not considered to go hand in hand, but Bachelor of Fine Arts (Animation) student Sophie Ash has blended her love of mogul skiing and fine art into one amazing creative practice.

I had no idea I wanted to do Animation; I didn’t even know you could study it. In 2013, I became a part of the new Visual Arts cohort at the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School. During my time at school, I was exposed to a wide variety of artists who had studied at the VCA.  I thought fine art was interesting, however I was far more interested in film. I did some research, talked to a few people about it, and decided to embrace both and do the Bachelor of Fine Art (Animation).

It’s great to be surrounded by people who share the same passion as you do. Everyone is creating work –thinking of ideas. It’s extremely creative; it’s what I live for. Usually, we have class in the morning around 9AM and work through to midday. We also have workshops with guest animators and other artists. People are always in the studio working on their projects; it’s a great community.

Portrait of Sophie Ash. Image Supplied.

I’ve been lucky enough to collaborate with a variety of people at the VCA. I’ve worked with a few different actors and musicians on past productions. Pretty much every direction you look there is a creative person; most students are very interested in collaborating. It’s always quite informal, so it’s great when you’re just starting out and you’re not sure how to navigate things.

I have tried to keep my sport and my art separate in the past. I used to think that I didn’t have the right personality to be an athlete and I spent a lot of time trying to change who I was to ‘fit in’. I never wanted to tell people I was an athlete or create any type of media about my experiences; I was afraid that I’d be stereotyped as a jock. I’ve been an athlete for a long time and I enjoy it, but it’s really tough.

Elite sport is a high-pressure environment, and when in competition you view the world in this abstract, visceral way; training can be a bubble where you feel strong emotional responses that the world seems unrecognizable through the lens of performance. I have tried to use art as medium to express these emotional experiences.

When I decided to start making work about skiing I realised that I had a lot of things to say, and a unique mode of expression of an athlete’s perspective. I find inspiration in a lot of my own experiences as well as other athletes and their stories, especially their experiences of training and competing in their respective sports.

Screenshot from Start Gate (2019). Image Supplied.

When I was first starting out with everything, I was quick to shut the door on ideas I didn’t think would work. I also was afraid of creating something people wouldn’t like or understand. I find you lose the purpose if you’re doing it for others; and it’s the same for a lot of things in life.

In 2019 I completed my third year production about my experience at the international competition, the FIS Freestyle World Championships. After I made that film, I felt that I still had more work to do involving my experience with sport and the mind. I also wanted to ask other athletes about their experiences. So, my goal is to investigate these themes further. I want to create work that accurately expresses the mental and physical experience of sport. Not sure if I’ll ever do it justice. However, I feel that this realm is limitless.

I love skiing and have been doing it since I was very young. I am currently on the Australian team for Moguls, a freestyle skiing discipline. I’ve competed internationally and am aiming to go to the Winter Olympic Games in 2022. In my spare time I enjoy reading, writing and moving around.