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Show 2015: Fine Art Presents Culture of Cross-Fertilisation

In a show that integrates work from all programmes more comprehensively than ever before, the School of Fine Art presents its strong culture of cross-fertilisation, and celebrates the first graduating year of students on the Moving Image and Performance pathways. At the same time, programmes maintain their disciplinary focus and students’ work bears testament to the College’s values of skill and making, both traditional and cutting edge.

Entering the Sculpture Building, visitors encounter a series of rusty metal forms, grouped on the ground. Shaped like spinning tops, or seeds, they are part of Nu Li’s work Thorn, and together weigh more than 5,000 kilogrammes. The groupings draw the eye onwards and to left and right, invitingly. Repeated and seemingly mass-produced, they appear like remnants of construction, discarded in some industrial or architectural process. Nearby, two cast London bricks are propped together on the ground.

Architecture, construction and the urban are themes that run through much of the work at this year’s Show, from Photography student Matan Ashkenazy’s refined studies of architectural detailing to Painting student Byzantia Harlow’s expanded frame structure. Just as the modular typeface designed especially for Show 2015 draws on the idea, and metaphor, of the College’s foundations and building blocks, so too are students responding to the hyperlocal and the brand new Woo Building at Battersea, to citywide issues such as the housing crisis, and to global questions around migration and urban life. These are vital, critical and attentive approaches to art making.

For many Fine Art students, this criticality extends to questions around medium, process and techniques. Summing up the work of Painting students in the show, Head of Programme David Rayson said: ‘They have wrestled with their personal agendas and passions, and researched and tested what it means to be painting and making now, within a historical, cultural and contemporary context.’ In Printmaking, much of the work reveals a deep engagement with the nature of perception and the processes of print, notably in Hyemi Kim’s study of the devotion and time involved in printmaking, and Masaharu Imamiya’s ornate, thread-like etching. Students consider the implications of utilising older processes, and employ them critically to reconsider their future potential.

In the ever-changing and expanded practice of photography, students are bringing together traditional techniques and contemporary processes, and thinking through what it means to use and combine them. A core value of the Photography programme is to give students the skills to enable them to produce excellent quality prints, and this is evident in the precise, hand-printed work of Sophie Nielson and Maja Absa-Ngom. With staff and visiting professors from fields as broad as psychoanalysis, philosophy and literature, and approaches incorporating urbanism and feminism, to name just a few, these discourses emerge in students’ work in compelling ways, from the gender critique of Philomene Hoel to the utopian urbanism of Alice Oldfield.

Elements of the architectural appear again in the work of students on the Moving Image pathway, many of whom are presenting their work as installations. Genevieve Lutkin’s film is housed within a kind of surreal theatre set of fragmentary, unstable architecture. Verity Birt’s commanding piece is set within elements of marble, exploring archaeological display. The video within combines found footage from the internet and some shot on her phone. As Moving Image Tutor Dr Aura Satz said: ‘It’s a mix of a more classical understanding of historical tradition and a highly mediated, contemporary way of engaging with history.’

Highlighting students’ practices that work across materials and processes, Head of Sculpture Jordan Baseman said: ‘What is interesting is the relationship between the physical and the digital and how the rough interface of traditional sculptural methods are fused with 3D digital processes. Jemma Egan, Jamie Fitzpatrick, Alex Duncan, Fleur Melbourn, Laura O’Neill, Andrea Zucchini are all working between the digital and the physical, and are great examples of artists working across materials, processes and applications towards the production of sculpture.’

See more information and the full catalogue of graduating School of Fine Art 2015 students here.