At the University of Arts tonight for a show of work by recent graduates, sponsored by Art material manufacturers.
As a Slade alumnus not really part of this club, but went as a guest. We were amazed at how beautiful the building looked, really spacious and well appointed, really interesting location too, just behind King’s Cross station. A crazy amount of building going on, the view over the rails down to the Eurostar, the clocktower of St Pancras and the canal etc. Lovely old industrial building, newly fitted out. Not sure if all the UAL colleges are relocated here now, but a good spot we thought.
The second thing to strike me was how professional it all was. From the way that the event was organised online and the name tags and so on to the booklet and the finish of the space. This was something that was hinted at when I was a student, but not realised. Now it is expected. And this is both good and bad, I think. It reflects several things. Firstly it suggests a market place for art that is overwhelmingly corporate. Secondly it encourages a level of finish in the work, both in terms of actual physical attention to detail (which is good) and a certain crystallisation of style ( which is limiting at so early a stage). Thirdly it reflects the reality that a lot of students are paying a lot of money to study here and they can’t justify just spending time without professionalism. This is perhaps the saddest aspect of all as it is sometimes the difficulty of fitting into a genre that encourages really new work to emerge, possibly even as music or comedy, years later.
What was also apparent, although not really new, was the prevalence of projectors. Some of them playing movies, some images, some just focused light. And although the evening was sponsored by makers of ‘traditional’ painting media – Winsor & Newton, Liquitex and Conté – there was precious little of that on the walls. Sculpture in general seems to have less of a problem adapting to the world of screen based media and new technology. Because it confronts devices such as phones and monitors as objects to be used, rather than purveyors of images to be separately apprehended. Or at least it seems able to cope now – but if 3D printing arrives in a big way, then this may change.
Although you still get phrases like ‘dialectic void’ in the programme. Serves me right for reading the notes, I ought to know better by now
Meanwhile my two pics are of sculptures. Both of them had quite an arresting presence and seemed like the business. . Definitely a gallery I will be heading back to!