Gray's School of Art Degree Show 2013 - Highlights # 2!

Some more highlights from this years Gray's School of Art Degree Show!

From printmaking I liked Mick Astbury's work, combining copper plate etchings and lino print techniques hes created a rather creepy monotone world filled with giant telescopes, keeping watch on the plebeians from a distance. His work reminded me of Ade's work from last year but definitely has its own distinctive style and theme. I think its the striking balance between the black ink and the white paper, the details but not over done, each piece has a finely achieved balance which comes from his perfectly balanced hair. The two of them will be sharing a studio in the future so expect some awesome new work from both of them soon! 

I was intrigued by the wasps caught in amber (varnish I think) by Marina Burt in Sculpture. She told me about her deep rooted fear of the insects but also about how she felt bad about encasing them in varnish but I think they were already deceased when this happened. Along with the wasps she showed a rather lavish wooden cabinet which contained some finely crafted drawers. In one of the drawers some silkworms had taken residence and filled her small pots with tiny eggs which hatched and then began coating the drawer with lines of silk. Eventually the silk worms cocooned and hatched out as fully formed moths which looked really stunning! The display was small but showed the process and perfection of nature. Marina's work dealt with the small but left a big impression on me, raising questions about the  natural balance and mans effect on it!

Probably the most ambitious works came from Tomasz Wrobel in painting. His surreal landscapes based on photo studies of assembled circuit boards and digital e - waste really hit a new high for me. The photos really don't do his work justice as these were big scale canvases and the application of paint to canvas was quite unique. Its been a long time since I've seen a painting which not only looked like something but something that's been translated through the artists brain, rejigged and spat out as something new. Definitely going to keep an eye on Tomasz work in the future!

Gemma Balfour was hard at work bashing out her hand typed prints which made up her degree show. Gemma created rather lovely coastal themed prints and explored the theme of land erosion due to chemical pollutants and our ever changing weather. Her renderings could only have come from someone familiar with such landscapes and sure enough Gemma hails from the Shetland Islands. A lot of hours goes into each print and due to the type writer each print is unique, just like the machines used to create them. Lovely stuff! You can check out more of her work via her facebook page!

Also from print making I liked Rachel Kerr's printed cogs which adorned the corridor wall. I remembered her snake print from the pre degree show at PVA and quite liked her style.

Hannah Thornton's framed screen printed diary pages stood out against her black wall. It was interesting to see someone branch away from trying to make something overly cool or visually arresting but instead showed a little bit of her own thoughts and insecurities.

Fiona McCubbin's strange moon segments also caught my eye, her full moon lamp would be a welcome addition to my home in the cold, dark winter nights!

Finally I'd like to give a special mention to Alexander 'Twig' Champion who's work might have deceived you a little. At first it appears to only be a series of photographs which pan around his octagonal space in sculpture but Alex actually removed all the stones from the Grays quad pond, 12 tonnes worth and then filled it in with 8 odd tonnes of gravel which he carefully groomed into the Zen garden you see below. All in all he moved about 20 tonnes of rock and gravel, by hand and barrow! The sheer effort involved is phenomenal and good reminder that what you first see isn't always the full story!

I could go on and on about more work that I liked but you have to draw a line somewhere but fear not, I bought a catalogue and might follow up on a few artists like Yasmin Oskooi, Alan Bond and host of other artist's  whom I didn't feature this time. That's what makes it interesting, to keep moving forward and to keep pushing your practice, especially now that Art School has finished! Best of luck to everyone who's about to graduate!

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