FAD 515 End Of Year Report

This piece began with a tweet about how once again the Foundation students’ end of year shows appeared to be ‘better’ than that of the degree show students. FAD515adI backed this up, by suggesting that degree students are consumed by a different pressure and will, no doubt have had some of the life and freedom of expression, sucked out of them by learning the realities of subsistence living in Hull’s creative industries. And it must be said that the degree students have a thing for showing something of the academia behind their work. A sort of, ‘Here’s my work and how it ties into this theory, that artist, some ism or other…’ I don’t really care how much of an art buff you are, just whether you can create, whether you can inspire or provoke a response.

The FD students aren’t quite so fixed in their ideas, there is a freedom and openness about the work. I recall a Park Street end of year show where a sense of infectious joy and creative energy flowed through every room.

These shows can be the bane of your last year, having to work with numpties who you’ve known for the past two years, have never put in any effort and who will almost certainly let you down at the last moment. These wastrels are clogging up the education system and ought be shot at dawn, by a creative yet determined, firing squad. Not left to meander through after their pitiful awards, to then get lucky when their significant other starts knocking about with some effluent –  and I do mean effluent – dream peddler.

I came here to write about three of the Foundation Diploma Art and Design shows from the Hull College School of Creative Arts and they are:

images by Anna Bean

images by Anna Bean

Firstly Lucy-Anna Howson – who had already engaged my attention with a steady drip-feed of sneak preview images before the show – with her piece that evoked memory and family connections. It was the three miniature figurines clothed in paper bridal gowns that drew my eye, endlessly turning staccato movements. The work spoke about the passing of time, the constraints of societal norms: the unavoidable moment when time catches up and you face your expiration. Something about those three figures, turning helplessly entombed in a box, like little dolls in straitjackets forced to perform, persists in the memory. She also had an old suitcase with interesting things in: you put an old suitcase in a show and it instantly becomes a winner.

'Obsessions of the Future' by Cath Shayler image by Jerome Whittingham

‘Obsessions of the Future’ by Cath Shayler image by Jerome Whittingham

The second student’s work that caught my attention, was that of Cath Shayler. This young artist had captured a pivotal moment in 1968 where everything appeared possible: when it was widely believed that science and technology would provide the answer and solution to all.

Her space, cleverly closed off from the rest, offers up a transformative experience. You sit in the chair facing the screen and observe a well thought out and edited timeline of communications history, viewed through a slight satirical lens.

All the furnishings, from the clock on the wall, to the bespoke handmade wallpaper and the vintage copy of Time magazine, faithfully recreate that sense of another time and place.  A triumph of imagination and authenticity.

The final piece I have chosen centred around a mirror made by Miriam Mills. Not just any mirror but one surrounded and partially covered, by news clippings of the faces of mass murderers, child killers: those persons who have committed heinous crimes and then been afforded notoriety by screaming tabloid headlines.

image by Lucy-Anna Howson

image by Lucy-Anna Howson

Hidden among the now instantly recognisable roll call of killers, Wests, Brady, Hindley etc are classic images of recidivists taken from the work of Cesare Lombroso. He introduced the concept of criminal atavism suggesting that all criminals had a shared physiognomy due to genetic defect: sloping foreheads, an asymmetry of face, irregular size ears.

By standing a little way back, you can see your reflection, your own face staring back amongst that of the condemned. Now you, your image, is side by side, on a par, with the child killers, how do you feel?

Here is when the work comes into its own. I heard a number of responses; abhorrence; vulnerability; disturbed, each reflecting back some particular trait or aspect of self. The fascination with these twisted psyches endures. They say there is a killer in all of us, can we really look in the mirror and say that there isn’t?

FAD515Congratulations to all the students from Hull College School of Creative Arts, who have worked tirelessly to create something to showcase their individual talents. Those who got results today I hope you are happy with your grades and that they allow you to progress along your chosen paths.

I believe 2017 has to be about retaining the homegrown talent, nurturing these fledgling creative minds, providing them with spaces to express and exhibit their ideas.

Why not take some of these shows, that are far more inspiring and vital than some I’ve seen in recent years and put them in public view?

When I think about some of the ill-thought out pretentious crap, passing itself of as art… the guy with the bits of found metal twisted, hanging on hooks, comes to mind. That really was amateur.

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