ECA and GSA Degree Shows (4 stars)

ECA and GSA Degree Shows

Amy Pickles' 'Alright Petal' at GSA

The degree shows at Edinburgh College of Art and Glasgow School of Art provide two distinct flavours

Edinburgh College of Art ●●●●

In Edinburgh, the sculpture is particularly strong. In one studio, you are greeted with Abigail McPaul’s row of bright blue trees. They are beautifully delicate, and the corresponding prints, showing close-ups of the branches, make it feel as though you are walking through a pretty but unearthly woodland. In the same studio, Frances Hetherington’s small confetti room creates the illusion of being in a strange underwater world. It is a brilliantly playful space that has clearly been enjoyed by many: the confetti is spread everywhere through the college and beyond.

There are a number of great performance pieces including one in which sculpture student Malcolm Fraser leaps from a wobbly stool and draws a line on the wall with charcoal as he falls into a pile of pillows. In another, participants are allowed to throw paint powder all over painting student Jodie Powell and her white bedroom, transforming it into a mess of bright colours.

Glasgow School of Art ●●●●

In Glasgow there is a lot of excellent video and digital work complementing more traditional paintings and sculptures. Aleksandra Roch and Justyna Ataman collaborate to create a living-room set-up featuring a weird-but-wonderful collection of satirical videos that attack the wealth and power of commercial companies.

Chris Silver’s work is in a similar vein: he lived off porridge for over four months to demonstrate the damaging effects of welfare cuts. His Austerity Cafe is a large instillation in which he acts as the chef or owner and hands out paper bags containing either a homemade muffin and a top-quality tea bag or some flour and a sub-standard tea bag. 'We’re all privileged, but some are more privileged than others,' is his message.

Other stand-out pieces include Jennifer Clews' film of rocking wooden chairs, a simple but haunting installation, and Karen McIntyre's 'Hats on the Hill', a tent with hand-knitted woolly hats hanging from the side as if left out to dry on a washing line. Inside a film shows people wearing the very same hats up Ben Arthur in the snow. It is a touching metaphor about a connected global community.

The Glasgow School Of Art Degree Show

The annual degree shows for all graduating students from the departments of fine art, design, architecture and design, and a chance to spot the Turner prize winners of tomorrow, if past records are anything to go by.