Gray’s School of Art Degree Show 2011

I took myself along to have a glance at Gray’s School of Art degree show. It proved pretty exhausting, not because the art was poor, but just the sheer variety and scope of what is on offer means it can’t be hurried.

Inevitably some exhibits held my attention more than others, naturally and I had to resist buying a couple of pieces – one because of size. Many students had been lucky enough to have sold several or, in some cases, nearly everything selected to display. Others, sadly had not.

Sticking to the Art School campus I checked out everything from 3D and product design through visual communication to painting and photography.
One of the first exhibits I came on looked like Karl André’s bricks gone 3-D. Don’t know why.

There’s a nice feel going around the show. Not stuffy like some galleries. The environment definitely makes a difference.

Some students were guilty of over-intellectualising their work. There’s no need to do that. Better to stick with what they do best rather than attempting to articulate any souped-up meaning behind their creations. I don’t engage in conversation with artists for their intellect. It’s like musicians. Sometimes it’s best to leave the music to talk. So with art. I don’t look to art for intellectual stimulation. Okay sometimes I do, but much of the time I’m fired up with the emotional draw. Intellectual coherence comes as a bonus.

Contrary perhaps to this would be Ewa Horszczaruk’s entry of a pack of ‘keepsakes’ about historical Aberdeen: an envelope with maps and postcards.

It’s not innovative but the large mounted map is an amusing and absorbing sideways glance at the city’s past and shows that this student has actively engaged with the city and found a means to convey her research into a way which is very accessible and potentially commercial or educational.

I think Phoebe Cole has a bright future as a painter. Her work is bold and shows great potential. Her most successful pieces are those with bolder shapes. That said she has a work that is fairly reminiscent of German Romanticist landscapes and still it works equally well. Someone I mean to watch in the future.

I LOVED Craig Harper’s drawing. The best were sold by the time I arrived, including the amusing and well composed – He looked at the gathering crows and thought not again. This guy can draw. His work was reminiscent of some of the bizarre art of the wonderful Max Ernst. I didn’t take any photos of his display so you are just going to have to look him up but the ones on the show’s website are not my favourites. Great stuff, Craig.

Mark Rennie’s drawings also had a touch of the Ernst about them combined with a touch of Bosch and with a nod to the Industrial Revolution .

One of the reasons for me going to the show was to see the jewellery designed by Niall Crossan having heard an interview with him on the radio.

The jewellery in question contains a panic button and is intended to be worn by victims or potential victims of domestic abuse. These Aida products employ Bluetooth technology to help save lives and injuries and it’s impossible to detect in the pendants, bangles etc. Great idea. Hope it does what it sets out to do.

The show is on Sunday 19 June 10am – 5.00; Monday 20 – Friday 24 June 10am – 8pm; Saturday 25 June 10am – 17pm

6 Comments to “Gray’s School of Art Degree Show 2011”

  1. You’re very welcome Niall. I hope your jewellery is very successful. It certainly deserves to be and sounds as if you are going to be busy over the next while.

  2. I was touched to see a mention of my work on here, especially when so little of the show made it!

    Interest from charities has thrown the project into a whirlwind of preparation for production. I’m always pleased to see support for the project.

  3. This struck a chord wi me. As a sometimes working musician, I do like to let the music do the talking – good I think to let your work stand on its own feet. I have performed and done intros etc and probably will do again but for now prefer where possible the Mary Poppins approach – ‘I never explain!’ The interested audience has the intelligence to work it out or look it up. Sometimes they just ask. But I think you’re right – it pays for the artist not to get in the way of the emotional content. Is starting a sentence with ‘but’ still bad grammar?

    • Mmm, struck a chord did it? And you a musician.

      The ‘never explain’ sounds a bit like the Dylan approach on stage and most of his stuff speaks volumes.

      There’s a place for putting things in context and there’s pretentious. That’s the bit I’m sceptical about.

      Enjoyed your contribution 😉

  4. Hi Carrie
    Thanks for looking in on the blog and taking the time to leave a comment.

    If I can respond to some of your points – I do think that some artists are guilty of wrapping up their work in a lot of pseudo-intellectual hogwash. One of the problems being that the art doesn’t always live up to the claims. Ever seen that?

    It is intellectually undemanding to put a quote on a wall thereby making an association with the art work. There’s no intellectual argument to justify the claim – only the art work. What value is there, necessarily, in that?

    Equally I’m quite aware that there are art movements and individual artists which have been (are?) effective in pursuing social and political change so in no way was I equating all art with having very little of substance behind it. However, you only have to pick up some of the literature associated with exhibitions to question whether it is really desirable or necessary for artists to make great claims for what they have created.

    In everyday life I engage with a whole range of talented people, carrying out a whole range of skills and services, but for the most part people don’t feel the need to make great claims for what they do.

    I don’t see your distinction between aesthetic and meaning. Surely aesthetic does have meaning?

    You raise an interesting point which I agree with that, ‘The contemporary art world is so removed from the traditions of old’. In my view that is one of the reasons that art has, since, say the 19thC, been exploiting all kinds of means to justify itself. The debate around this is one that will go on and on.

    As for mis-quoting me on, ‘I don’t engage with artists for their intellect’ – I will be sending out the punctuation police!

  5. I’d be keen to understand what you think is over intellectualising art, and while i believe you may have not meant to be so patronising in your comment “i don’t engage with artist’s for their intellect” you may aswell say i don’t care how smart you are just as long as you look hot. The other conotation this brings is the idea that as artists we feel pressures to add meaning to the work we create. The work we create often in the contemporary environment holds it’s own intrinsic meaning before any or all aesthetic value and i would argue that we feel more pressure to conform to aesthetics than meaning. The contemporary art world is so far removed from the traditions of old. There is very little boundary between visual art, music, theatre and literatures (of all types) and i personally see this as a positive. The arts of all kind are there to improve and enhance our experience in any way from aesthetics to emotional draw to intellectual engagement.

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