Fine artists to watch from Arts University Plymouth
BA (Hons) Fine Art at Arts University Plymouth promotes contemporary art practice in its broadest sense, encouraging ambitious, self-directed and critically-minded students to an engaged approach to their creative work.
This year’s Class of 2023 from Arts University Plymouth includes successful, award-winning students who have already earned a range of competitive awards, from graduate residencies at KARST Gallery to nominations for prizes with the Platform Graduate Awards, an initiative to support emerging graduate artistic talent to further their practice following graduation.
Following their successful season of Summer Shows, here’s a roundup of some of the most innovative and ambitious students from the University’s 2023 Summer Shows who are graduating in Fine Art:
Richie Johnson is a visual artist whose practice involves the creation of alien worlds in an attempt to understand our uncanny relationships with everyday objects. Taking influence from chrome-coated science fiction, mediaeval weapons, crop circles and biomorphic forms, Richie seeks to transform mundane objects into living creatures.
Richie’s final major project at Arts University Plymouth ‘The Host’, imagines a parasitic fungus that can infect and transform the chairs inhabiting its undiscovered world, The Planet. Through these processes, the chair’s capacity for life is expanded, alongside the entities that exist in its orbit. The harsh spike plains and misted rock hills of The Planet are home to specimens whose grotesque life cycles are brought into existence through sculpture, drawing and sound.
Richie has been selected as one of the students to represent Arts University Plymouth in the upcoming Platform Graduate Award 2023 exhibition later in the summer.
Beth Evans is a multidisciplinary artist, illustrator and writer whose practice is informed by both lived experience and imagined realities. By transforming non-tangible ideas into ‘sculptural metaphors’, they give space and form to the otherwise invisible.
Through exploration of the concept of the office job, Beth’s final summer show work ‘9 - 5 ≠ ∞’ is a critique of the way value is often assigned to individuals based on their income and career. It is also an exploration of the limitless hours that artists can find themselves working and the inevitable subsequent burnout.
Beth’s overarching question while making the work was ‘when it comes to making art, what counts as work?’ It could be the research, the ideas, the final outcome or all of the failed experiments in between, or any combination of the above. An impossible thought exercise, Beth likens it to being asked ‘if the grass is green, then is it more yellow or blue?’
Beth is staying at Arts University Plymouth to act as Students’ Union President for the upcoming year and has been awarded the KARST Graduate Residency for 2023/24.
Nikki Lannon is a multidisciplinary artist currently working in rural Cornwall. Nikki’s work is heavily influenced by text and semiotics, with her art reflecting her passion for egalitarianism with regards to women.
With a particular focus on the invisibility of women in later life, Nikki’s practice encompasses storytelling, poetry, print, video and traditionally feminine crafts. She uses these practices to create immersive works that explore cultural and societal projects and reflections on what it is to be a woman, her work opening the viewers’ eyes to the unnoticed, the irrelevant and the unheard. Both her evocative and narrative style create a space for enquiry and re-examination of our views of womanhood. Her final major project continues this theme, with her piece ‘Unravelled’, an installation featuring materials such as wood, fabric, yarn and thread.
Nikki has showcased her work at the Cornwall Street Project Space in Plymouth.
As an interdisciplinary artist comprising moving image and text, Allie Dechow’s thinking and making is underpinned by an inherent affinity for what is human and nonhuman. This is explored in combination with visual language: poetry remains in a steady interplay informing all else. Speculative realms where the imaginative meets the real are, to Allie, spaces of magic, play and possibility. A reinterpretation of narrative is often explored through drawing from past and contemporary literature or fragments of information found elsewhere. Allie’s texts explore themes of resilience, transformation and belonging in which everything that is thought of as independent is weaved together into a magical web of interconnectedness and one big celebration of existence.
In Allie’s final major project, ‘The Sum Total’, viewers are plunged into the story of two transdimensional forces describing their lived experiences across different yet interwoven spatio-temporal worlds. This alludes to fictive as well as real historical sites fluidly intersecting. Framed as a chimeric tale of imaginary possibilities, we elude conventional notions of our perceived reality of time, space and existence on Earth. The tale asks the viewer to redefine their perceptions of our subjective realities, and explore the possibilities of realms where things that were thought of as incompatible and separate may coexist and meet with blurred boundaries.
Allie has shown her work at the KARST Gallery Test Space, with her exhibition ‘Watery Bodies’ which followed the narrative of a seemingly disembodied entity, finding themselves in a conflict of both awe and estrangement. She was also recently published in the Chemical Inevitable literary journal. Allie has been selected as one of the students to represent Arts University Plymouth in the upcoming Platform Graduate Award 2023 exhibition.