Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Edinburgh College Of Art Degree Show

What a great weekend! Lovely weather, so I got out on my bike a lot and re-visited a site I had found some time ago, the wonderfully unhinged paintings on a house in Tollcross, Glasgow. In September 2012, it looked like this:

Outsider Art in Glasgow - 3

Cycling past, I noticed the significant change of color...

More Outsider Art in Glasgow - 8

And also that the themes had changed subtly to include the death of Thatcher and an attack on the SNP administration:

More Outsider Art in Glasgow - 1

More Outsider Art in Glasgow - 5

I will be documenting this more as it changes. The paintings seem to have been there for some time - if you click on the first image it will take you to Flickr where the comments to some of the original photographs contain links to YouTube interviews with the artist. I really hope I get to meet him some time! It is pretty cool to have an "outsider" artist so nearby.

This weekend was the turn of Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) to host their 2013 degree show. I am pleased to be able to report that it is a very different beast from the DJCAD show two weeks ago, as it should be. For a start, there were far fewer makers represented, 12 (11 BA Hons plus 1 MFA), which made the show seem less busy and much easier to analyse. All the students were working in their own distinct ways but - though I can't quite pinpoint what it is that made me feel this - the whole show feels unified, partly by the recurring themes and certainly by a lightness and colour which was absent from the last few degree shows I've visited.

There were three silversmiths in the show, an unusually high number compared to recent years. Georgina Leung kicked it all off on entry with her Chinese-inspired bowls and spoons. Lovely objects in themselves and she presented them amongst a host of research materials, which I always like to see.

ECA  Degree Show - - Georgina Leung - 1

I'm a little bit embarrassed to have to admit that all bar one of my photographs of Olivia Creber's work came out blurred and unusable. Her chunky glass pendants on rubber cords were worth seeing for the way in which she has created glass "geodes" which are then polished away on one side to reveal the interior. She has also made these rather cool "beards" for London Fashion Week, so a photograph of a photograph is all you are getting and you'll have to look her up at the link below:

ECA  Degree Show - Olivia Creber

It is always nice to see red dots next to work at a degree show. It encourages me to see that people are encouraging the graduates (graduands?) by purchasing their work and that the work is seen as real, fitting into the continuum of contemporary jewellery. It was great to see that Kelly Murno's work in burnt, painted wood, silver and rubber had sold in large numbers. Her use of colour is subtle and exciting and her forms are incredibly pleasing:

ECA  Degree Show - Kelly Munro - 2

ECA  Degree Show - Kelly Munro - 1

Emelie Westerlund's objects are given gravitas by their universal black, referencing, perhaps, deep space, black holes, voids. They are made from rubber, resin, iron and magnets and balls roll neatly into cavities, cords pass over slight grooves and the tactile pieces invite exploration:

ECA  Degree Show - Emelie Westerlund - 2

ECA  Degree Show - Emelie Westerlund - 1

Working in perspex, silver and gemstones, Kirsty Stewart says that she wants to capture the joy she feels when she is surrounded by natural beauties, achieving a blend of the natural with the completely unnatural, the ultra-modern and the artificial. Her use of strong colour is far-removed from the delicacy and pastels of the few other "floral" pieces in the show, making for strong, striking pieces. I loved this (huge) brooch:
ECA  Degree Show - Kirsty Stewart - 1

ECA  Degree Show - Kirsty Stewart - 2

Emily Martinelli makes vessels by raising and chasing and her pieces have a real sense of function even if that function is not apparent. The patination and texturing work well together and I enjoyed her use of sample fragments in her display.

ECA  Degree Show - Emily Martinelli

There were a number of makers using floral themes, including Prudence Horrocks, who has been using plastics in combination with silver to create very light, fresh-looking pieces which capture, for me, the pleasures of flower-pressing as a child. There is something airy and light about her work which really appeals:
ECA  Degree Show - Prudence Horrocks - 2

Elizabeth Jane Campbell has some of the most interesting work in the show. While it is reminiscent of the work by her tutor Stephen Bottomley, it in no way apes his work. Her innovative use of jewellers' ceramic honeycomb soldering material thrilled me: she enamelled it! Not only that, but she has enamelled it beautifully and with restraint, rendering the surface inviting, colourful, even "juicy":

ECA  Degree Show - Elizabeth Jane Campbell - 1

ECA  Degree Show - Elizabeth Jane Campbell - 2

Polly Collins' vessels are elegant, simple in form and constructed to invite contemplation of both form and the contents of the vessel. She describes the vessels as being for "slow food", which is quite apparent when they are seen:

ECA  Degree Show - Polly Collins

A return to florals again with Jessica Mobley's work which takes themes from her grandfather's shop where he was a florist.

ECA  Degree Show - Jessica Mobley - 1

I liked Han-Chieh Chuang's  fragments of the far-east. It can be hard to translate feelings and glimpses of things into objects which convey those ideas, but these pieces achieve this. Han-Chieh had also taken some of the pieces to the far-east with her - I am not sure what country it was, but it looked like Vietnam - and had photographed ordinary people in the street wearing them. A nice touch.

ECA  Degree Show - Han-Chieh Chuang - 3

ECA  Degree Show - Han-Chieh Chuang - 2

Generally, when I am reviewing degree shows, I don't favour or dismiss any work. I will pass comment on what I prefer and what I am not so sure about, but always from a personal perspective. I think it is important to be even-handed. Of course, you know what comes next...!
I've kept what I feel is best to last.
I was absolutely blown away by the work of Sally Morrison. As everyone who knows me knows, I am a big fan of concrete and 1960s and 70s Brutalism, so Sally's work in concrete, steel, rubber and paint appealed to me greatly. It is hard for these images to convey the scale of this work and the use of colour is perfect, raising the work from a conceptual exercise to something both very serious and highly playful. Love it!

ECA  Degree Show - Sally Morrison - 1

ECA  Degree Show - Sally Morrison - 2

I would wear one of these!

Links to the students can be found here.
Another fantastic show. Glasgow later this week, then our own.

Bumped into the lovely Jenny Laidlaw when I was there, which was a pleasant surprise as I've not met her previously. I'm a big fan of her work, as I've mentioned before.

Finally, this deeply disturbing but somehow compelling ring, possibly the most horrible piece of jewellery ever made... don't watch the video if you are in any way squeamish. Overall, I like this guy's work - all the pieces in my size had sold out, however.