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24 June 2012

Heaven nor Hell

In an introduction to Dante's Inferno, T S Eliot comments that,
 'Hell is a place where nothing connects to nothing.'
 Well, what an opening, you're thinking, for a post that's supposed to be about SCAT's graduate Fine Art show. I know, but I recently read that quote in a book about creativity which got me thinking why Fine Art/Art at times is and/or at other times strives to be heavenly, because unlike Eliot's definition of 'hell', Art is all about connections. Connections of how an idea connects with a material, a process, a feeling, a decision. Connections that are visual, censorial, audio and kinetic to name but a few as well as connections between people, audiences, places and times. Certainly, I think its safe to say from my own experience (and I'm certain I am not alone in thinking this) that at times the searching for and making those connections can feel like hell, it is not an easy process. Although undoubtedly once those connections are found the result(s) can indeed be something divine. In reality I think a lot of the time art sits somewhere between the two, neither being heavenly nor hell, stuck in limbo or grounded in the reality of the everyday, that doesn't, however stop us from venturing elsewhere... When idea/intention and process and material all come together and work seamlessly that is when you know the connections are right (which in practise is always easier said than done). But anyway, whether its heavenly or someplace in-between, you can make up your own minds, one thing is for sure is that there is no lack of connections here, in this years (bump-ba-da-na!) Somerset College, Fine Art end of year Exhibition!    
Its all about the 'end of year shows' at the moment. Caught Bristol's UWE exhibitions around a week ago, Somerset College's last week (and the subject of this post) and planning on perusing Plymouth's offerings Tuesday this week. Wonderful! Please excuse the dodgy photography in these images, they are a flavour of what to expect, when I can assure you the real things in all cases are much better. Anyway, now that's all out the way, what of this year's Fine Art degree show? I think, its the biggest one yet (in terms of  student numbers), titled 'Thirty Eight' and (as normal) is split between two venues, The Brewhouse and Somerset College featuring as ever an eclectic variety of different mediums, materials and ideas. For me, personally I thought there was lots of really great painters this year and it was also good to see some more installation pieces, someone using performance in their work and another using what I think were projectors in contexts outside the gallery space. Good stuff, glad that the non 'house style' ethos of scat has been maintained (for those of you not regular visitors to this blog-and why wouldn't you be!- I graduated from Fine Art at SCAT in 2009). Overall it is an excellent degree show, and yes, whilst of course I am bias, I have also seen a lot of other degree shows from other universities so I think I have some experience to make a good enough comparative judgement (coincidentally Bristol UWE's Drawing and applied arts degree show was great). I think for me, what makes a degree show 'excellent' is if it has things which inspire me, make me think, 'I'd like to try that' and if it surprises me in terms of that feeling you get when you've never seen something like it before, if it is original and inventive. This graduate show definitely had those things, there was an animation made from knitting, for example. The works which most strike a chord with me are often the ones which, going back to what I said at the start, have a connection with either elements of my own work or my friends practises (looking at the images below those of you who know me will know who I am referring to). A natural observation there, but also an honest one and something I have talked about on this blog many times before and a reminder that the saying, 'there is no such thing as art...only artists'. That's all for this post this week, well done to all graduating this summer and thank you for some fantastic work in this year's graduate shows. I'll end with a quote that nicely connects us back to what I said at the beginning with this from Nietzsche,
'Artists have a vested interest in our believing in the flash of revelation, the so-called inspiration...shining down from heavens as a ray of grace. In reality, the imagination of the good artist or thinker produces continuously good, mediocre, or bad things, but his judgement, trained and sharpened to a fine point, rejects, selects, connects...All great artists and thinkers are great workers, indefatigable not only in inventing, but also in rejecting, sifting, transforming, ordering.'
(above) David Mead

(above) Sian Lewis

(above) Barbara White

(above) Lorraine Tuck
(above) Leah Hislop
Watch this space for 'Art Book review of the Month' next  week here on the SAW blog! What will it be?....

You can check out 'Thirty Eight' at The Brewhouse until 4th July and at Somerset College until 30th June

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