Online and at Duncan & Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee
21st to 29th May 2022
As Dean of School, Professor Anita Taylor points out in the introductory video, this year’s graduates have studied in extraordinary times. Yet by browsing the contributions the constraints of lockdown are quickly forgotten – the quality of work is outstanding, the only evidence of Covid-19’s impact is perhaps an increased presence of social themes in the work, with mental health, isolation, body image, and nature connection all featuring heavily.
The online version of the show is laid out well, with the best work deftly drawing us in to the story of their work as well as the finished product. These are articulate statements of intent which will prove useful in launching their careers beyond the close of the in-person show.
As with an exhibition in physical space, what stands out is the work which captures attention in the first few seconds of viewing. A surprising sweep of colour or a concise opening statement often signals something special. With that in mind, below is a (subjective, of course) selection of stand out work in each discipline.
Although architecture is a form that often necessitates more than a quick browse, Jessica Jackson’s ideas for adaptable housing for displaced people in Athens showed a flair for visual communication. Elegant solutions for meeting primary needs blend seamlessly with spaces for faith practice in a sensitive and imaginative design.
Sensitivity is a theme in Craig Shearon’s illustration work too, with each drawing immersive and personal; images for Laura Marney’s short story ‘Mango’ are powerfully emotive narratives in and of themselves.
Animation is another discipline which the casual viewer might find difficult to unpack as there are so many different skills involved in a few seconds of film. In this respect, Tahnye Littee’s work deftly communicated the processes, roles and skills developed as well as some fantastic retro character designs.
The Jewellery & Metalwork cohort produced some conceptually fascinating and nuanced designs, but for simplicity paired with heart-skipping wow factor, a range of bottle stoppers inspired by the mischievous magpie by Amy Clelland won my heart.
In textile design, Milli Cunningham’s ingenious designs for 3D knitted lampshades show a designer pushing at the limits of their chosen material, a pursuit generously rewarded with beautiful and surprising objects; the ‘circular origami knit’ video was enticingly tactile.
Another innovative and elegant Product Design solution came in the form of a pen case with built in desk light from Zil Shah.
Interior & Environmental Design graduate Florence Allen linked Dundee’s industrial heritage with a modern workspace complex riffing on the traditional ‘nine trades of Dundee’. The fastidious documentation of the project was a fantastic example of a well realised design that draws the viewer into the atmosphere of the work.
Art & Philosophy graduate Isla Davie’s work is a study of ‘involuntary states’ through simple pencil drawings on pristine white paper. The images seem to float and expand, eliciting an eerie sense of recognition.
Nichole Milne tackled the issue of digital exclusion and isolation amongst the elderly with ‘Fotio’, a printer which creates postcards for the elderly out of messages created in Telegram. The creation of an album of images from friends and family creating a bridge between digital and tactile forms of communication.
Architecture and Urban Planning graduate Kirsty Wilson’s repurposed mill building was communicated using beautiful 2D and 3D sketches of ‘a place to work from home that’s not at home’, including consideration of the walk to work. A project both environmentally and socially of our time.
Lastly, viewers will find many favourites among the Fine Art collection this year. Marayam Hemati’s spooky, gooey landscapes will entice, and Lisa O’Donnell’s use of colour and shape have a Hockney-esque vitality. But the gut-punch statement of Chantal Denise Simic’s ‘When I was born the war ended!’ will stay with you. A blanket fort turned mass grave, covered in seeds just sprouting in the folds of not-quite-bodily forms was emotive and immersive enough viewed on screen.