Art School Degree Shows
From design and fashion to sculpture, photography, multi-media and painting, Scotland’s art schools form the backbone of the nation’s burgeoning visual arts scene. Sarah Redhead and Allan Radcliffe scouted out degree shows at three Scottish art schools for a flavour of tomorrow’s big creative names
GLASGOW SCHOOL OF ART
Originally from Iceland, Ragnar Jonasson paints, but not using brushes or canvas. ‘I’m pouring paint,’ he explains, ‘from saucepans. I pour it onto plastic, then peel it off, so there’s nothing except the paint.’ Jonasson is particularly inspired by exotic colour. ‘The extreme colours in nature, those that you wouldn’t expect to find. For example, I’m using images of the octopus; they have their own ink so I feel connected to them. Also a poison arrow frog – they’re extremely colourful.’
Jonasson says his work is mainly focused on the manipulation of materials. ‘I just want to get right inside that seductive world of colours and textures,’ he says.
Product Design Engineering
In June 2007, Glasgow International Airport was hit with a propane-filled car. It got Andrew McCalister thinking that there must be a solution to the devastating effects of car bombs. ‘The problem with standard barriers is that they’re either too small, and allow the shock-wave to go over the top of them, or they’re really large and have no visibility for armed troops,’ he says. ‘My project is an attachment for smaller barriers that keeps the visibility high but stops the shock-wave.’
McCalister stresses the aesthetic aspect of his work: ‘There’s a major problem with sporting events, like the Commonwealth Games, aesthetically you can’t have these huge barriers, that are intimidating to people. You can walk past mine and almost not notice it.’
Silversmithing & Jewellery
Winner of the Goldsmiths Young Designer of the Year 2007 and commissioned to design the Hunter Cup to celebrate 200 years of Glasgow’s Huntarian Museum, Leah Black has now turned her attention to the more intricate art of jewellery-making. ‘I’m making a lot of smaller pieces based on the relationship between memory and object,’ she says. ‘I’ve taken photographs of junk shops, and monuments, and I’m making jewellery that’s like a still life of forgotten objects: a shelf, with little bottles and wine glasses for a brooch.’ Black was inspired by the many hidden layers she found while removing wallpaper in her flat. ‘It made me think about the marks that people leave behind them, and how these things were important to somebody at one point.’ After graduation, Black plans to go into business with her sister, a fashion designer.
Other names to watch
Taking her inspiration from rubbish dumps, textiles student Claire Dyball works with man-made threads to knit a range of legwear for women. Product design student Michael Johnson creates new and exciting technologies sensitive to the relationships between people and objects, including ‘Hello Freddo’, an intelligent, interactive fridge, which aims to support young families and their relationship with food.
Glasgow School of Art, Sat 14-Sat 21 Jun, Mon–Thu 10am–9pm, Fri 10am–7pm, Sat/Sun 10am–5pm.
DUNCAN OF JORDANSTONE
Steven Doyle’s project ‘The Same but Different’ brought together people from the University of Dundee community who share the same name. ‘I wanted to portray issues of identity using digital technology,’ he says.
The project involved poring over the University’s online email directory of 20,000 names. ‘I always approach a project in the way a scientist tackles a controlled experiment,’ he laughs.
Doyle asked the pairs to bring to the studio an object that said something about them. ‘That stage of it really highlighted the dynamic range of individuality at the University.’ The 18 colour photographs on display at the Degree Show, which include ‘Meet David Duncan’ (pictured), are accompanied by stories about the objects and people, including crossed wires through mistaken identity such as library fines. ‘I would define these stories as “happy accidents”,’ says Doyle. ‘How these people’s lives have touched in ways, just by virtue of having the same name.’
Photography / Cloth sculpture
An abiding interest in the figure led Gillian McLaren to photograph her unusual hand-sewn material sculptures in landscapes such as the University of Dundee Botanic Gardens. ‘The work is about my own reaction to landscape and the potential I see for the figure to be photographed in it,’ she says. ‘I intend it to provide a fresh escapism. It provides a way to escape from the everyday, urban or mundane to a more whimsical or romantic landscape.’
The photographs can be read as a loose narrative, and the viewer is encouraged to look inside a series of accompanying books and trace McLaren’s journey in creating the work.
Observing people’s behaviour within social spaces inspired Tielia Delanzo’s installation ‘Parallel Latitudes’. She focused on two of Dundee’s most popular public places, the Castle Green playpark at Broughty Ferry and an area outside Boots in the city centre. ‘I call that space an oasis,’ she says. ‘Everyone is so chilled. I had expected it to be a much more vibrant space.’
The installation contains representations of the actions people form as they interact with these spaces. Corner mirrors create a sense of being enclosed, and there are objects such as a shimmering corridor of ribbon, inspired by the light reflecting off the River Tay. ‘Personally, I believe there is an energy or a cultural essence to a place, but this is hard to describe in an abstract way,’ says Delanzo. ‘I’m hoping this work will kick-in a personal response from the viewer.’
Other names to watch
Casey Campbell’s paintings and videos (‘moving paintings’) feature figures in abstracted environments. Aberdeen-born Camilla Symons creates beautiful silverpoint drawings of rabbits, crows and worms, inspired by childhood memories of life and death in nature. Fraser Gray’s huge wall-based paintings uses bold imagery and evocative figure painting to explore colonialist links to our current society. Gray’s craft was honed as a teenage graffiti artist.
Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Dundee, until Sat 24 May.
EDINBURGH COLLEGE OF ART
Originally from Goa, Carvalho has incorporated memories of bright butterflies into her work, choosing four contrasting colours to create bold, playful pieces. She is inspired mostly by her family. ‘My late grandfather was a tailor and my mum a dressmaker,’ she says. ‘From an early age it intrigued me to watch the garments coming to life.’ The mix of adventurous colouring with floating, feminine design gives a futuristic look to her work. ‘I want my audience to feel refreshed, with the imminence of summer.’ Carvalho hopes to one day work for a major fashion house.
Having initially caused a splash creating art galleries in skips (pictured), Kevin Harman is now aiming to entice art sceptics into the sculpture court . . . by stealing their doormats. ‘“Love Thy Neighbour” is about the communication breakdown in cities,’ he says. ‘I’m going to take every single doormat from one area of Edinburgh. Within the week there’ll be people talking.’
Harman plans to create a sculpture with the doormats, and residents (who will be invited to the event) can easily unhook their own mat and take it home. ‘A doormat is an extension of somebody’s house,’ he says. ‘It’s an extension of character, and I think that with the variety available I’ll be able to construct something with definite visual impact.’
Jewellery and Silversmithing
It was the depth of pattern on the underside of a mushroom that sparked Antonia Chiappe’s final project. ‘I’ve been looking at objects that focus on fragility and solidity, and the contrast between the two,’ she says. ‘I take inspiration from everyday objects, and I’ve been working with paper and wire, breaking objects into skeletal forms then creating my own structures, which are worn on the body in quite unusual ways.’ Mainly making rings and neck pieces, Chiappe’s finished products are delicate and playful.
Inspired by her Catholic background, Bridget O’Gorman has investigated themes of dependency, both religious and medical in her glasswork. ‘They’re quite abstract, blown, vessel-like glass forms,’ she says, ‘but clamped in the middle. I’m referring to the idea of breath and life, and they’re creating an obstruction.’ O’Gorman creates decorative objects that hint at a use beyond the purely aesthetic.
Other names to watch
Photographer Alice Myers explores tension and a feeling of ‘letting go’ through photographing children poised to push away from the edge of a swimming pool. Furniture and product designer Kate Rider has hand-produced a range of chairs, mixing the ‘feminine’ craft of lace making and ‘masculine’ metalwork.
Edinburgh College of Art, Sat 14–Tue 24 Jun, Mon–Thu 10am-8pm; Fri-Sun 10am-5pm.