Over the course of this year’s degree show season, CR readers will be guest blogging reviews of shows up and down the UK (and beyond). Clare Plumley visits this year’s Brighton shows
Sunny Brighton, and actually, it really is today which means I get a bit of peace and quiet to meander around this year’s Brighton Degree Show in a little late afternoon sunshine.
The first work to really make me beam (and with a suitably Brighton colour palette to kick this off with) is ‘Data Analysis: Smarties’ (below), a room full of colour prints, showing the amount and colour ratio of smarties found in varying package sizes. These are by Printmaking graduate, Sophie Newman. Being a data visualisation junkie I really want to leave the building with one of these beauties tucked under my arm.
She presents more data analysis prints on the ground floor based on student surveys of the university’s performance with titles such as ‘94% satisfaction’ (shown top).
I find more food related works in 3D Design. Poppy Wilson St James presents a series of objects which bring into question the origin of the food we consume and how those products impact on us. She has made jelly moulds of pigs trotters, sweets in the shape of rotting teeth and promotes the nutritious value of bugs and insects.
Earlier this year I saw a preview of 3D Design student Isobel Goodacre‘s work as part of the Brighton Science Festival. She investigates geographical and interpersonal boundaries, and I was intrigued by her app which presents invisible wi-fi signals as tangible floating objects.
Another online investigation came in the form of ‘Google Christ’. Illustration graduate, Philippe Nash, on a quest to find Christ, his/our souls online, has presented a wall full of his search results. He has also asked others to send in pictures of themselves disguised as Jesus. This raises all sorts of interesting questions regarding the sanctity of an image, information, truth and personal belief.
His very own floor based shrine (full of paper and felt-tip pens, naturally) contains the lovely ‘Book of Grateful’ in which we are invited to write about or draw the things we are grateful for. A drawing of ‘love and brokeness’ (below) was an entry that caught my eye.
There is more soul-searching around the corner from film-maker Theo Davies in “I Could Have Been So Much Better: the acute social awkwardness of being a virgin”. It’s a very intimate, rather uncomfortable, up-close portrait, and is very funny. I highly recommend a watch, and, sexual content ‘with bacon’, that’s an image hook. He’ll go far.
Regarding portraiture, I’m rather drawn to the striking portraits on the ground floor by Photography graduate Tom Field, very topically, looking at the issue of gay marriage and identity.
Robyn Aubrey takes photographs of herself alongside her sister, beautifully presenting the closeness and tension that often resides between siblings.
Photography graduate Angela Murray‘s photographs are lit like Dutch Golden Age paintings and have a clarity and scale which draws me in. These portraits, mainly of children, are based on ideas of Jungian psychoanalysis, science and alchemy.
Back in the Graphic Design and Illustration department I’m really impressed by the interpretation of children’s drawings by Jamie Eke. He takes their drawings and works them up in his own style, it’s clever, original and very insightful.
Illustration graduate Kathy Lam produces very strong, dark drawings of animals exhibiting hidden human attributes, she had some very cute cut-out animal business cards too, which were a nice touch. The work on her website and blog is playful and diverse, I can see a lot of potential for animation there somehow, go check her out.
I was delighted to stumble upon a series of Maggie placards entitled ‘Tweets and the Streets’ by Graphic Design graduate Jo Satchell. In addition to making me wistful for student days of old they highlight the power of twitter for political commentary. Each placard contains a tweet including such gems as “I don’t even like milk anyway” and “Hang on, she was responsible for Mr Whippy”. Great stuff.
Other type-based work within the Graphic Design department which grabbed me was by Sam Greenway, who has created a typeface from his own fractal vector. He also used the typeface to produce abstract prints which are quite beautiful, I imagine these have almost unlimited permutations. www.behance.net/samgreenway or
The Fine Art Department had some slick design going on too in the form of their catalogue entitled ‘Unbound Bound’, designed by Jack Webster-Dunstan and presented on a large table with individual sheets for the visitor to collect, curate and pull together in any order they like. Very smart and engaging, it made for a striking display.
Just down the corridor I popped my head in to check out Digital Music and Sound Arts. It was a lovely wind down to the show. I came across a wonderful stop-motion animation called ‘Sounds Are Objects’ by Leon Radschinski-Gorman which follows a trail of ink as it winds itself around and over a variety of surfaces. The ink picks up the resonance and perceived sound of each object as it goes. Lovely, poetic, watch it here.
I like a little minimalism so was lulled even further by Sound Arts graduate Rebecca E Davies who likes to create sound via the imagination. A print on the wall invited me to imagine ‘the sound of thinking about an object thinking’. Her work is about ‘listening through inaudible media’, so, whilst ash moved around the space via inaudible sound coming from white speakers, so too, feathers and inaudible singing bowls were set up atop speakers.
So, I left the building, sadly without that smarties print tucked under my arm, but entered the throng of Brighton on a Friday night with ‘the sound of thinking about an object thinking’ whirring through my mind, well, that and ‘bacon’. All in all ‘94% satisfaction’.
Many thanks to Clare. If you would like to review a degree show in your area, please let us know here
Pink Floyd fans may recognise the cover of our June issue. It’s the original marked-up artwork for Dark Side of the Moon: one of a number of treasures from the archive of design studio Hipgnosis featured in the issue, along with an interview with Aubrey Powell, co-founder of Hipgnosis with the late, great Storm Thorgerson. Elsewhere in the issue we take a first look at The Purple Book: Symbolism and Sensuality in Contemporary Illustration, hear from the curators of a fascinating new V&A show conceived as a ‘walk-in book’ plus we have all the regular debate and analysis on the world of visual communications.
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