The annual degree shows were, yet again, a roaring success at the School of Art, Aberystwyth University. This year 55 third year students were involved in the Undergraduate Show which is principally held in two large studios at the School of Art. In addition, 8 postgraduate students exhibited the results of their on-going research in our main galleries.
These degree shows are the highlight of the School of Art calendar and provide an excellent opportunity for students, along with their friends and family, to celebrate their artistic achievements.
Staging the shows is a big operation involving the conversion of art practice studios into superb, top-lit exhibition spaces. Students are involved in the whole process from assisting technical staff with assembling the large display boards to attaching the final labels for their exhibits. Each student has the opportunity to negotiate the kind of space they need to display their work at its best.
There was a range of work including installations, paintings, projections, sound pieces, photography, illustration, printmaking and performance. Here are a few of the most talked about exhibits in the Undergraduate Show (a post on the Postgraduate Show will follow later).
Illustration student Emily Joslyn created a wonderful series of models which she photographed and then digitally manipulated for the production of a book based on her own dreams. Another illustration student, Rachael Smart, produced fine pen and ink drawings for her interpretation of Yann Martel’s ‘The Life of Pi’.
Martin Finnigan-Torley undertook a purposely futile performance where he attempted to stop the sea with sandbags – all recorded as a film and with the said sandbags on display in the gallery.
Zoe Harris also works in performance. She converted a small room into a Memory Exchange and on the opening night had people queueing down the stairs waiting to exchange their memories with her in private.
Amie Haslen exhibited a series of complex hybrid prints mixing relief and planographic processes which still retained the vibrancy of her landscape drawings. Holly Whittaker’s prints were equally complex with their various layerings of colour and paper.
James Blagden created the longest exhibits we have ever had in a degree show! At 30ft long and only 2 inches wide his minutely painted aerial views of Egypt, the South Pole and New York are all sourced from Google Earth.
Stina Retasapp recorded the remnants of punk culture in Aberystwyth with large scale monochrome photography and Bethan Williams created a series of time lapse films exploring the aesthetic qualities of microbiological growth in petrie dishes.
And then there was the owl! Gaynor Rees produced a memorable installation where she explored the symbolism of nests and owls in relation to disability and depression. Viewers of the installation could look out of a bird hide and spot Gaynor dressed as an owl in a tree across the car park. Occasionally the owl would be watching you through its own pair of binoculars.
And some great painting too! Jonathan Huart produced some fascinating detailed townscapes of his native Gibraltar whilst Janet Wareing used a more simplistic approach to evoke the commercial architecture of her home town, Halifax. Tracey Jayne Thomas explores our peripheral and accidental vision with two large canvases depicting the twigs and branches of winter trees – they look like photographs but they are in fact paintings. Also illustrated here is a portrait by Beth Lawrence who was one of several students this year to concentrate on portraiture.
Apologies to everyone else who exhibited who we haven’t managed to cover in this post but here are your names: Jessica Allen, Natalie Allen, Katharine Austin, Yasmin Bailey, Denitsa Bankova, Claire Blake, Joni Bland, Laura Bosley, Gwen Bramley, Jack Briggs, Charlotte Brown, Vera Carbin, Jamie Carpenter-White, Chris Doyle, Rachel Dunlop, Gabriella Eastwood, Gabriel Gooch Blanco, Elizabeth Gorry, Rachel Green, Arlene Grenade, Anne Harriman, Stephanie Jamieson, Amy Jeffree,Eleanor Johnston, Cleo Jones, Shelley Kerr, Anna Kuczmejno, Aleksandra Lupa, Amy McCord, Vanessa Mignanelli Jennie Monk, Ingrid Pakkas, Leanna Petruzzo, Michael Price, Lauren Reeves, Rachel Smith, Stephanie Southwick, Cassia Thomson, Adele Verschoor, Elaine Williams and Natasha Wilson.
Many thanks to Chris Iliff and Ben Partridge for the photography.