The Duncan of Jordanstone Fine Art degree show is a great opportunity to find out what artists do at art school. The answer to this is always a delightful surprise and this year is no exception. The General Course studios in the Crawford building have been filled with an array of interesting works.
Moving through the exhibition I noted the variety of talent and ideas on display; however, I also began to draw parallels between the ideas and themes. One of the standout pieces was Joanne Hall’s work, where the artist has collected fossils on the beaches at East Wemyss and Crail to inform her practice. Focusing on the interrelationship between the natural world and humanity, Joanne has created an exhibition which explores a variety of fossil fragments through photography and preservation. The artist has displayed some of these fossils along with a beautiful book entitled ‘TRACES’ which includes drawings created with ground fossil fragments.
Approaching similar issues from a different perspective is Racheal Robertson, whose work focuses on environmental and ecological issues. Through the manipulation of mass-produced plastic spoons Racheal creates organic forms which seem incompatible with the disposable product. By creating a dreamlike scene with these surreal sculptures the artist aims to comment on global consumer culture.
Another theme echoing through the exhibition is spirituality. Lauren Gardiner engages the viewer in her spiritual practice through image abstraction and printmaking. Chantelle Collesso is an artist who invites the viewer to take a trip into her subconscious. She studies meditation and uses the symbols and lines to communicate the emotions of her unconscious state. Another artist, Kathryn Hannah has been inspired by the architecture of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona to explore the techniques and traits of the style of sacred design. In investigating the characteristics of spiritual places, Kathryn utilises geometry, illumination, colour and symmetry within the practice. Kathryn has created a classical labyrinth leading to a central space of calm.
Soundscape is another art form featured within these spaces. Lucy McCallum is an artist exploring the sculptural qualities of sound. Her work is inspired by the Italian Futurist Luigi Russolo and his ‘Intonarumori.’ By utilising the artist’s 1910s-30s theories and sketches McCallum has developed sculptures which draw a comparison between his designs and contemporary vinyl music records. In the gallery space above, Catherine Bunney’s sound work utilises repetition and echoes in an exploration of abstracted language.
Communication and relationships are key themes throughout the exhibition this year. A piece which really stood out was Mhairi Anton’s work which seeks to pose questions about the lives we lead and how to move forward as the world continues to change. Mhairi believes art should engage the viewer and encourage discussion which fosters relationships and finds catharsis through difficult times. In the upper level of the General Course studio space, Jennifer Cooper presents a large organic sculpture depicting juxtapositions between concrete structures. By filling these spaces with paper-thin three-dimensional objects the artist aims to draw attention to the fragility of these spaces.
At every turn the exhibition offers an exciting new piece to investigate. It may be Frankie Flynn’s vibrant installation commenting on the impact of internet culture, Mhari Davidson’s beautiful use of traditional painting techniques exploring hierarchies and personal relationships, or Lucy Buchanan’s British Stop-motion installation which explores the considerable power of nostalgia.
What do artists do at art school? Artists at art school work hard to find new and interesting ways to develop and communicate their ideas to the viewer. The fantastic thing about the degree show is there is something for everyone.