"It's a proper fine art show" Student Chris Stone reviews ‘Intermission’
Having concluded the first year of my BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing & Printmaking degree, there is genuine fun and excitement to be had in viewing the Summer Shows of graduating students across Arts University, Plymouth. My enjoyment is tempered by the feeling that in a couple of years time I will be contributing to such a show myself, but for now I am happy to savour the shows for their own sake.
I visited the opening night of ‘Intermission’, the BA (Hons) Fine Art show at Studio 11 and the great thing about a fine art show is that you can never be sure what to expect. That element of surprise was omnipresent at this event.
‘Intermission’ is a cornucopia of diverse art, including sculpture, installation, film, sound and painting with nods to history, science, philosophy, psychology, nature, identity and personal journeys. For those of us still working towards our degrees, there was much inspiration to be had at this show.
I don’t have the inclination to deliver a pretentious or high-handed critique of the work on show. But I can say that the levels of thinking, enquiry, experimentation and innovation on display were awesome. It is worth mentioning that these outcomes were achieved in spite of the restrictions and constraints inherent in the national Covid-19 lockdowns that have shaped so much of the past three years.
I spoke to student Amy Bennett, who felt that in some ways the lockdowns were beneficial to her practice, in that they made her more self-reliant and that she subsequently grew as an artist. Amy was exhibiting the visually impressive ‘Traces of Touch’, a mixed-media project comprising painting and textiles that explores the sexualisation experienced by women and residual emotional scarring left from touch.
I also spoke to Ashanti Hare, who explores themes of cultural and spiritual identity in their installation ‘Joto Se’. The components of this beautiful and fascinating work include film, ceramics and found materials, including seashells and eggshells. Ashanti told me that they had a very clear idea of what they wanted from their practice and they felt Covid had interrupted things initially, but that they are now very back on track.
I was charmed and intrigued by ‘The House of Wet’ by Darcey Meades. The doll's house setting presents separate fragments of the artist’s life but brings them together in one setting. How many times have we had strange dreams where diverse and disparate remnants of our personal history converge? Or just wondered at how different our lives are now compared to a few years ago? Yet it is still the same life. I thought this work brought a coherence to some of that strangeness that we feel about ourselves.
The human mind fascinates me, so I was captivated by Chris White’s untitled installation, rooted in psychological imagery, with hauntingly hypnotic sights and sounds.
I arrived too late for the opening speeches, but Lecturer Antigoni Pasidi referenced the difficulties presented by the pandemic during the last three years and vocalised the pride that Arts University Plymouth staff felt for the students in producing such an accomplished exhibition. She was very confident that this cohort of graduating students will progress to a hopeful future.
I will leave the last word to Richard Webb, Subject Leader for my own course, BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing & Printmaking. I asked him what he thought of the show and he replied: “It’s a proper fine art show”. I think he’s absolutely right.