Talent Spotters: Glasgow School of Art (part 1)

Illustrator Marco Bevilacqua visits Glasgow School of Art grad show as part of our Talent Spotters series of guest reviews of this year’s degree exhibitions.

Illustrator Marco Bevilacqua visits Glasgow School of Art grad show as part of our Talent Spotters series of guest reviews of this year’s degree exhibitions.

As you walk up the narrow, sloped path towards famous Charles Rennie Mackintosh building, the silence is soon disturbed by the sound of cranes working to clear the debris. The devastation of the fire that occurred last month is clear to see. The burnt out, blackened windows visible from the ground, adjacent the new Reid Building where part of the degree show is being held.

As I was travelling to the show, I contemplated some of the topics the students would be tackling in their work. Obviously, the debate on independence, which seems to be slowly engulfing the rest of the Scottish graphic landscape, was one narrative I thought would be a focus. But to my surprise, not a peep. Instead, I was greeted with very familiar Art School subject matters; Digital vs. Analogue, Man Made vs. Nature, Old vs. New. Juxtaposed topics that seemed to echo the entrance of the show itself.

All of the work on offer was displayed with an immaculate gallery feel; even more incredible given the circumstances it was presented in. But here are the pieces of work that stood out to me.

When entering the Communication Design section, I was instantly struck by Catherine Lafferty’s pieces.

Her clever work looks at the similarities between nature’s and man made tools and how they have evolved to form solutions to different design problems. An example is the simply executed “Darwin’s Discoveries” (lead image) looking at Bioluminescent fungi, and the beautifully constructed “Darwin’s Homology Theory” (above). Solid and exciting Visual Communication.

In the Fashion and Textiles show, Hazel Dunn‘s illustrative qualities really shone through in “A Walk In The West.” Well presented in a quirky little hut, the influences of the Scottish Highlands and playfulness of children’s books made for a skilful, fun and highly commercial narrative driven collection.

A lot of the degree shows seem to have edged toward the future of design, multidisciplinary designers, apps and interactive real-time solutions. There was some of that on show, and for us London dwellers the creation of “Last Tube” by Charlotte Fountaine would be a handy edition to anyone’s smartphone. “A way to avoid missing the last tube home” an app that informs the user which stations are closed by disappearing from an interactive map, it also offers alternative routes once your tube station has gone.

However, a lot of the work from the Glasgow students seemed to be back to old school. And the last mention has to go out to the visual powerhouse of Rosie Scott.

Hailing from the school of slightly odd, dark humour, her series of “South Korean Love Postcards” and visualisation on the story of Treacle really made me smile.

Aesthetically, her strong, heavy and confident brush strokes impressed me in her simple, Japanese graphic design like posters. But over in the portfolio area I was really impressed with her sketchbooks. That confidence and humour bubbling through, reminiscent of Ceri Amphlett, and was really worth venturing into.

On visiting the nearby Fine Art exhibition, in the nearby McLellan Galleries, whose student’s work was hit hard by the fire, an ethereal eeriness was the first encounter. But although each student’s work is represented merely by a single digital print, the display itself in the gallery comes together to give an overall feeling of togetherness and solidarity. The work can be interpreted and admired piece at a time or as one. Although it is not how they would have wanted it, the show still stands out as a remarkable and creative triumph and well worth the jaunt there.

The show is open from 14th – 21st of June. For more visit www.gsa.ac.uk/life/gsa-events/events/d/degree-show-2014


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