Sunday, June 12, 2011

givin' up, givin' in...

Three degree shows in two days!
First up was the show at Glasgow School of Art, being held for the last time in the Newberry Tower building at GSA after 40 years of being the home of the department. Much as I really like the building, this show showed all-too-clearly why it was time to move: 19 people in one dark space. It didn't really work very well. Not to let that detract from the work. In a way, I am quite sad about the demise of this building as I really rather like it, but brutalism is SO unfashionable...

Anyway, enough of my moaning.
The show was much bigger than usual but was jammed into the same space which I have seen used for seven graduates; it meant that there was no room for the students to display notebooks or development materials, which was something I really missed. One of the pleasures of these events for me is talking to fellow jewellers about the way in which they work.  Additionally, it meant that each student had less space for their jewellery and there were WAY more people at the opening than there would be normally.

Glasgow School Of Art - Jewellery Show 2011 - 1

Also, for some reason, the lighting wasn't very good.
As ever, however, the show was a fine mix of styles and materials and there was a very interesting tendency for work to be enamelled. The outstanding pieces for me were works by this person:

Glasgow School Of Art - Jewellery Show 2011 - 3

(To my shame, I have completely failed to make a note of who made this work, but I will correct that later in the week!) All this work is based on writings by various philosophers and has a deeply alchemical streak which appeals greatly to me.
I also really liked the colourful work of Shao Lianchao:

Glasgow School Of Art - Jewellery Show 2011 - 5

Samera Afzi was making work which was both interesting and almost "mainstream" commercial; we chatted at length about her work and I'm sure that she will do well:

Glasgow School Of Art - Jewellery Show 2011 -

And because it is very much in my own favourite materials, it was lovely to see the work of Sean McGugan, using steel in various forms, etched and laser-welded:

Glasgow School Of Art - Jewellery Show 2011 -

Next night it was the turn of my own students to present their degree work. This was a nerve-wracking experience for me (how much worse for the students?!) as this was the first year we had taught the degree programme "BA (Hons) Jewellery Design and Technology" and it is a programme which nobody else in the UK is really teaching, largely CAD-based. I'm pleased to report that things went very well and there was a great deal of interest from the press and galleries, a couple of the students even sold collections, which is very gratifying. What is not so pleasing is that I largely forgot to photograph the work and only photographed the people attending the show... Here is our principal opening the show:

North Glasgow College - Jewellery Show 2011 - 1

Some people milling about at the show:

North Glasgow College - Jewellery Show 2011 - 2

And one pendant by Hanyao Fu:

North Glasgow College - Jewellery Show 2011 - 5

I actually can't believe that I forgot to photograph the work! I'll get those photographed and posted later in the week.

Last of all, on Saturday, I got myself along to the Edinburgh College of Art Degree show, which was very different from ours or from Glasgow's, as it should be.

Edinburgh College of Art - Degree Show 2011 - 1

The Edinburgh display space was very cosy and relaxed, full of work but not cluttered and the works were all very pleasingly dissimilar, though there was a lot of laser-cut materials incorporated into the works. About eight years ago, I never wanted to see another laser-cut piece again, but now that the technology has been assimilated and is no-longer-new, it is great to see how people are using it in their practice. I spoke extensively to Kirsty Fraser about her work, which uses a lot of laser-cut elements to evoke architectural forms:

Edinburgh College of Art - Degree Show 2011 -

I also really liked the works of Mariko Sumioko which rather eloquently tie together European "art jewellery" modes with Japanese traditions:

Edinburgh College of Art - Degree Show 2011 -

I especially liked her tray of little brooches which were for sale, tiny fragments of her larger works:

Edinburgh College of Art - Degree Show 2011 -

My overall favourite works, however, were these amazing vessels by Hazel Thorn:

Edinburgh College of Art - Degree Show 2011 -

Edinburgh College of Art - Degree Show 2011 -

The work of all the students - bar one - is available on my Flickr photostream, which you can access by clicking on any one of the pictures above.
Why "bar one"?
One of the main functions of a degree show, quite apart from it being cathartic, is for students to get themselves noticed, to make an impression and - with any luck - to start making a name for themselves. It was therefore somewhat surprising that one snarky student at the Glasgow School of Art degree show not only forbade me from taking photographs of her work but also quite clearly stated that she didn't want her work to appear on my blogs or on the ACJ website.
Only too happy to oblige.

As usual, a trip to Edinburgh means that I end up making too many appointments to see people, decide to visit too many  galleries and spend too long browsing second-hand bookshops. One of the most interesting exhibitions is Sandy Noble's "Lazy Eye" show at Framed Gallery in which he has built drawing machines; robots which make drawings, complete with all the flaws and mannerisms that one expects of human drawings. These are process pieces, but they have a strange fragility. Well worth a visit:

Lazy Eye 1

Sandy and the gallery owners at Framed.

Lazy Eye 2

One of the robots making a drawing. This is drawing directly onto the wall of the gallery.

Lazy Eye 3

Some of the smaller drawings, completed.