City & Guilds Of London Art School – MA Fine Art Show 2015

The City & Guilds of London Art School, a not for profit specialist institution of art training, recently displayed its MA Fine Art Show includes work from 13 graduating MA Fine Art Students, as well as interim work by 6 part-time students completing their first year of study. The show also featured exhibitions by three Artists in Residence: Nicholas Johnson; Saya Kubota and Rebecca Molloy. The course aims to promote excellence in applied disciplines across a variety of fields; including painting, drawing and sculpture as well as performative, time-based and participatory works.

Students gain roughly twice the amount of staff contact time as the majority of Fine Art and Craft University courses in the UK. In this way, they are exposed to a rigorous programme of practical workshop practice and specialised training in traditional and emerging techniques and media. This emphasis on a hands-on, trained approach is clearly evident upon viewing the students work in this year’s show, work which covers a wide range of practices and concerns yet always seems to hark back to the innate artfulness of its own making.

Celia Scott, for example, clearly revels in the technical intricacies of her constructivist ‘paintings’ formed out of various wooden boards in various levels of carved relief, revealing a multitude of textures, forms and volumes. Rebecca Molloy equates the much-contested trajectories of contemporary painting with the banal yet sensuous world of food-stuffs (more specifically, the calorie-inducing likes of whipped cream, candy and chocolate) through a playful approach to installation and video that explores notions of desire and consumption. Graham Murtough offers ambiguous sculptural objects that seem to be constructed out of traditionally disregarded material with industrial or utilitarian purposes, such as concrete, chicken wire and scrap metal, yet arranges them into totemic forms whose imposing presence is defied only by their intimate scale.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Armour presents a thought-provoking view of the human body (and skin in particular) as a topographic cartography that is at once a site for decoration and display as well as a protective barrier that conceals the human soul from the outside world – here unpeeled like the skin of a fruit or the plumage of an exotic bird. Jane Hayes Greenwood’s paintings present an imagined archaeology of ambiguous forms that recall the earliest manifestations of figurative sculpture that are set in relation to abstracted symbols and objects against fields of flat, chalky colour. These works construct an esoteric connection between psychoanalytic thinking and the symbolic value we assign to inanimate things and diagrammatic schema. Conversely, the process-based paintings of Zanny Mellor responds to a state of flux and impermanence, employing a gestural approach in which the material qualities of the paint itself (its fluidity, opacity and reflective glossy finish) invites an active, optical response from the viewer.

Artist in residence Saya Kubota deals with the way in which we remember and encapsulate the past, through objects and physical traces. Dilapidated landscapes, portraits and antique paintings sourced from thrift stores and flea markets undergo a unique makeover in Kubota’s hands, becoming embellished or modified and gaining back some of the attention these presumably once-cherished artefacts had long lost over the passage of time. Now they are able to be reconsidered in an entirely new context, anthropomorphised with accessories to become a potential extension of the human body. Such dynamic actions provide an appropriate summation of this eclectic and thought- provoking show, one which bodes well for the continued artistic integrity of this unique art school. There are many more students whose work I would have liked to mention, however I feel the selection represented here goes some way to illustrate the range of talent this output represents. Expect to hear some of these names again in the very near future.

Jonathan Armour, Katrina Bovill, Annie Farrer, Lorraine Fossi, Caroline Jane Harris, Jane Hayes Greenwood, Madeleine Inkin, Lynn Krol, Arthur Laidlaw, Clementine McGaw, Zanny Mellor, Katherine Russell, Celia Scott

Julia Court, Heather Graham, Benedict Hughes, Julia Kubik, Graham Murtough, Flora Scrymgeour

Words: George Micallef-Eynaud © Artlyst 2015

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