Interdisciplinary. Community. Advocacy. Humor.
SO... it is that time of year again and the degree shows are in full-swing. Unfortunately, because of the timings of holidays, the exam board and external examiner for my own graduands, I didn't get to see the usually exciting Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design show this year. This is doubly sad as DJCAD is the body which awards my own degree programme. As ever, DJCAD has put together an excellent website with details of all the students exhibiting, which you can see here.
Thursday night was the opening of the show at Edinburgh College of Art with a small cohort of graduates but to the usual high standards. I always especially like the ECA show as there are always a few surprises plus a variety of silversmithing and a few people who are very definitely exploring traditional craft techniques and the 2015 show was no exception.
We started off talking to Maisie Welch, who is showing resin work with inclusions of wood, concrete and plastic:
She spoke to us extensively about the project and her work is an interpretation of a building in Fife which she loves.
I didn't get a chance to speak to Emily Gore about her minimalist work but she had collaborated on a project with Maisie and they had explored some of the fibre-based techniques together, to very different ends.
For me, Natalie Adams made some of the most interesting work in the show with her subtly-died plastics and fine Barbara-Hepworth like wirework. I love the 70s colours and feel of these pieces which have none of the naff cringe-worthy nature of so much 1970s retrospectivism:
One of the silversmiths present was Eva Malkina who makes objects/tools for eating which contain secret and playful references to the ideas around the foods we eat.
I loved Erin Quinn's woven silver baskets which are so elemental and beautifully balanced:
Dongsun Lee is a chatty fellow who is obsessed with explosion and collapse and new technology... he is also coming to visit my workshops sometime next week! His work is quite remarkable, combining traditional silversmithing with 3D printed nylon:
I am a sucker for metal and technical samples and I love it when students lay them out as part of their show. Karolina Baines did just that, showing off her exquisite enamel-work.
Ruth Bolwell's work is all based around natural objects found in woodland which she interprets in fine materials and carefully arranges in groups:
The BA work can all be seen on the ECA mini-website for the show.
Also on display was the work of the single MFA student, Alexandra von Trapp and this is my personal favourite work in the show. Anyone who knows me will understand why!
The degree show from Glasgow Kelvin College was a big affair this year, with BA Fashion Design and Production, BA Visual Arts and BDes Jewellery Design and Technology, this last being the course I teach on.
There are two quotes I want to share about the graduates from my course. The first came from our external examiner, silversmith, Chris Knight, who said, "Every single one of these students could walk into a job in a jewellery workshop"; the second came from a visitor to the show who said, "This is not like a degree show... it is like the opening of a top-quality jewellery boutique". I'm very flattered and honoured by these remarks and hope that my graduates feel that way too!
Barbara Harris has done very well but it is quite hard for me to show why she is so successful as her success is "under the bonnet" as it were: put plainly, her 3D models are exceptionally well-conceived and well-contstructed. They print or mill first time; she understands the subtleties of the programmes she was using to make the models and her small collection of work is a testament to her skill:
Anne Walker has already created a whole brand and back-story for herself, as well as having made a wide range of remarkable work:
I didn't get the chance to photograph the incredible bangle she made for this show but you can see it on her website.
Inness Thomson was a slight cause for concern when he changed the direction of his design investigations about five months from the completion of his degree: I had no need to worry and his fine-jewellery skills coupled with his clear understanding of how 3D technologies can be used in the industry led to a collection of the highest order.
Paulina Sadjak made a collection based loosely on 18th Century wedding designs and set with literally thousands of stones (sometimes even 1mm stones!).
The work of Stephanie Mearns is interesting, largely due to her use of some modelling techniques which she largely taught herself, extensively using the organic modelling possibilities of T-splines. This relates to her first degree, which was in zoology!
Dual Designs - with an excellent logo, I think - is the work of Katie Marriot, who created a collection based around the idea of "remembrance" jewellery, an area fraught with the danger of cliché. I'm pleased to be able to say that due to her interesting take on the idea, she sidestepped that risk, using the notion of grid-references and maps as memory-triggers.
One of the unexpected pleasures of the night was meeting with Rachel O'Neill's cheeky, charming father and understanding completely where she gets it from. Rachel's work is all about her family, from letters and photographs to more hidden meanings in the works.
I particularly like her range of these double-brooches.
The last of our graduates is Sarah Russell, who has further pursued the work she began last year, creating pieces based on her interests in horticulture, pieces which I think have a real arts-and-crafts feel to them.
The whole event was brilliant and really well-attended. The bar was run - with our collective thanks - by a selection of my HND students, which is much appreciated.
Although I didn't really get much of a chance to explore the work of the visual arts graduates, the work of Iain McAulay really stood out, not only for being absolutely up-to-the-minute but for being so superbly-conceived and executed. His small-scale sculptural installation, "The Greatest Sin Is Indifference" deals with the displaced people of Syria and is both powerful and moving:
Glasgow School of Art Show is (fortunately) not for two weeks. Time to relax!