In 1997, British sculptor John Tinney was a recently minted master of fine arts (MFA) working a construction job and trying to figure out what to do with his life. One day, while eating lunch on a dusty job site and flipping through a national newspaper, he came upon an advertisement for an artistic scholarship funded by the Sir Peter and Lady Michael Foundation, through the Royal Society of Sculptors. He applied that day.
After a formal interview with the Royal Society, Tinney was offered a six-month residency in California. He accepted with excitement—and very little idea of what to expect when he got here. As he recalls, he got off the airplane in San Francisco to be met by “this big, bearded guy who came out of the crowd and grabbed me, put me in the car…I had no idea that I was going to that incredibly beautiful place. I mean, it was just mind-blowing for a little country boy from the UK.”