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12 June 2011

Its showtime!

End of year shows! 'Ad Lucem' at The Brewhouse and Somerset College.


pencil, tracing paper, foil, food wrappers, plaster, bell jars, fabric, perspex, milk cartons, orange emulsion, string, leaves, pulp, wood, nails, glue, light, sound, paper, steel, chair, latex, tape, newspaper, darkness, frames, boxes, foil, wheelchair, pins, the human body, canvas, flowers, fruit, ink, turps, salt, Dave's jeans, oil, acrylic, clock mechanisms, gin, evidence, glass, wool, felt, blood, sweat, tears, gloss, plastic, paper, card, rust, film, wire, cable, sound, shadow, bed, cogs, concrete, resin, board


This isn't a review; I quickly came to the conclusion that it would be difficult to articulate into words the vast qualities, styles and thoughts surrounding the work in an end of year Fine Art degree show like 'Ad Lucem', where I can only but try (in so few words) present to you an accurate enough flavour of the wide variety and diversity of work on offer. I'll do my best to summarise and perhaps, if need be, convince you why the above statement is correct. You'll just have to trust me, and take it from the list of materials above that there is STILL something inherently magic about the way in which artists (in particular these artists) transform existing stuff...into new stuff! And once again my friends, peers, fellow artists, protagonists from Somerset College have pulled it off, yet again, with no exception.

Themes of, history, the environment, abstraction, expressionism, illusion, identity, the mysterious, the banal, space, time, illusion and ecology that borrow from minimalism, conceptual ism, formalism, surrealism, feminism and traces of just about every other kind of 'ism' you could probably think of are evident in the work. This is one reason why end of year shows, in general, are always so exciting. Why be stuck looking at a Futurism exhibition at the Tate, when you can indulge in a show of new contemporary work that takes inspiration from lots of different art forms? Maybe I'm just greedy in my eclectic tastes, but isn't this truly what contemporary practice is all about? In example, why stick with one thing when you can recycle from many and invent something new?

'Ad Lucem' (read as Latin for 'Into the light'), in case you were wondering is the second exhibition of the same name from the now graduating, third year BA hons Fine Art students at Somerset College, University of Plymouth. The first 'Ad Lucem' was the second year show at a Tithe Barn in Pilton, Glastonbury and took place last year. Ironically, perhaps this years show could have, in places, also been called, 'Ad Umbris' ('Into the dark') as there were around four or more installations at least in which the you as the viewer found yourself, rather trustingly, walk into a black void as a part of the experience or the way in which certain works needed to be 'viewed'. Hooray! If you had read my post about the Brewhouse 'Inna space' show then you'll know I'm particularly becoming a fan of, art in the dark. Don't ask why.

Ha ha, anyway, both at The Brew and at the college there is a good mix of painting, photography, sculptural, mixed media and installation, with more including sound and video works as well at the college site. Phew! I'm exhausted! It has always been a challenge at these sorts of private views to somehow take 'anything' in, even to understand properly just one piece of work, whilst somehow still managing to look at the entire show and talk to dozens of different people you haven't seen in ages having to summarise the most interesting things (of which you can no longer remember) that you've been doing with your life in the space of five seconds! But if you can somehow manage to do all that then I salute you, as I am particularly bad at the latter. Social awkwardness aside, when and IF you do get round to looking at any work you'll see everything from igloos made of milk cartons, to shadow martial arts, abstract paintings, delicate drawings, multi-layered psychedelic collages and prints, rich 'earthy' textured surfaces, stop motion animation, historical documentation and re-presentation, felt-y body parts, wooden hideaways, narrative photography, more paintings! And more!!! "Look upon it as you watch the stars," a wise person once told me when viewing art work. Without being to corny or romantic I think what they were basically saying was that you just as you cannot always rationalise stars and space, and nor need you have to do so in order to enjoy them; neither should you overly try to force meaning on art. That doesn't mean that meaning isn't there, just that it should reveal itself naturally as you look at it. I guess that's resonance isn't it? Hmmm, anyway, I digress and the 'how one engages with art' is a debate best left for another day.

Back to the show. If you're interested in my opinion and if I can say without trying to sound too pretentious, my feeling is that there is a really strong overall consistency to the work this year, in the sense you've all probably seen shows where you think that there is real glaringly different standards of work with some strong and some really weak work in them. In my opinion I can honestly say that the overall show was really great. Pride is a word that seems to be popping up a lot these days and did you know it works in all directions. I'm still really proud to have graduated from this particular course and seeing my friends graduate from it as it continues to grow and thrive. Even better when we have got to work together since and how we continue to support each other in our practices in Somerset. Things are looking very healthy indeed. Thank you and good stuff to all involved!

Looks like in the end it did turn into a bit of a review (or an essay!) after all. Maybe next time I'll just make it simple, express it in a few words. So there you have it:

Ad Lucem: illuminating, enlightening, incandescent, blazing, shiny, radiating

Go see it now!

For more info from 'the horses mouth' please go to:

'Ad Lucem' can be seen at The Brewhouse until Wednesday 22 June and Somerset College until Friday 24th June.

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