Saturday 15th June sees University Campus Barnsley Interdisciplinary Art and Design degree students once again exhibit their wares for public consumption. The course offers students the opportunity to work across many different art and design disciplines, which could include painting, sculpture, ceramics, illustration, printmaking and jewellery making. Students are encouraged to cross boundaries and experiment with materials and media in pursuit of exciting and innovative art and design solutions. Last week I got the opportunity to visit the students while hard at work in their studios, putting the finishing touches to the artworks and designs that they will be marked on. Here is a little glimpse into the practise of just a handful of the exhibitors.
Thank you to the students of UCB for their time, and to Huddersfield University and photographer Gavin Joynt for the images of the students work.
31 Degrees runs from Sat 15th June to Fri 12th July at The Civic, Barnsley.
And remember… if you haven’t done already, you can follow us on facebook and get uptodate music and live arts news, along with weekly event guides www.facebook.com/AlternativeBarnsley
Over riding themes of imagination, social issues, photography, music, and inequality and class all play a part in Corinne’s work.
The central works in her third year collection is a series of vivid pastel paintings depicting dystopian landscapes, including a future Barnsley. In these images you will see Tower of Babel-like cities, overgrown and reminiscent of JG Ballard’s Drowned World. She says that her paintings are influenced by the words and images of authors such as Philip K Dick and Orwell and films such as Brazil, Deep Red, Dr. Parnassus. The paintings suggest messages about inequalities in the social system.
However, Corinne says that music plays an equally important part to her work. You will often see her around town photographing and documenting the musicians active in Barnsley current music scene. Many of these photographs have been used in another part of her final collection, which she says is about Synaesthesia and of how important music is to Corinne’s practise, both as a subject and also as an emotional support. Throughout the year, these photographs developed into a series of posters using cut-and-paste collage, and then later into what appears to be miniature set designs.
Prior to going into her degree in multi disciplinary art and design, Corinne actually managed a number of pubs and bars. Following Corinne’s graduation, she hopes to take an MA in Sheffield, Huddersfield, Leeds or even London.
Three pieces of work make up Leah’s final collection. The first is about Leah as an artists and her exploration of what that means. The work is a triptych, framed in what appears to be a standing blind or room divider. Each panel represents a different traditional art subjects; the artist in the studio, vanitas – a style of 17t century still life and nudes.
“The work is about me positioning myself as an artist in different contexts.” The first image depicts Leah stood in her studio wearing what first appears to be artist’s overalls but what on closer inspection, a suit of armour. The second panel – the vanitas, was painted because of Leah’s exploration of life and death, and a third piece which is a painting of the traditional ‘Eve’, explores martyrdom and ideas of faith and how they can be shaken.
Positioned on the floor in the middle of Lead’s studio is what appears to be a coffin, painted bright blue with a life-sized photo image of Leah, on the top and all sides. It is inspired by Nicolas Poussin’s Et In Arcadia Ego, and the notion that even in a perfect land, there is death, and also explores the ideas of death and the loss of creativity.
Leah admits that the work is influence by her own recent personal loss and that adds a whole different kind of weight to a piece which already has a lot of impact.
The final piece, which was being finished as we spoke, was a monumental five canvas painting, exploring both a number of Leah’s primary art influences and the legacy of modern art, such as Salvador Dali, Picasso’s The Guernica and Duchamp’s Nude Descending the Staircase. Now looking back at the coffin-like object on the floor, I now see in that Dali and I’m reminded of his visions of crucifixion flying through space.
Leah says that she’d love to see all three works exhibited together as one piece, or as an installation.
I meet Linda in her studio as she is putting the finishing touches to a maquette for the larger final piece that will appear in the end of course exhibition at The Civic. The work is about Alzheimer’s and memory loss and is inspired by own experiences of the degenerative disease.
Behind me stands the finished larger work. Encased in a two meter high wooden surround, is what looks like the final moment of some body being absolutely shattered – atomised even. The ghostly image of the figure is made from black beads, attached to 180 individual threads. When the box is lit up, Linda and the other students in the studio joke that it looks a little like a Star Trek transporter.
It reminds me of certain works of Antony Gormley and Linda says he was indeed an influence, although also was Cornelia Parker and Christian Boltanski.
“All of my work is about memory and I used light to show how memory can fade over time.”
Linda shows me some of the other works which make up her final collection, such as a model version of her childhood wendy house and a child’s easel, each incorporating lights, etched mirrors and photography.
Linda says that her work with light and earlier experiments with shadow puppetry has made her want to go into a career in theatre and once she has completed her degree, she will be looking to get experience in theatre design.
Sarah’s final collection is jewellery based on the fairy tales Rapunzel, The Princess and the Pea and Rumpelstiltskin. Laid out on the table before me are three wooden boxes, each containing a number of silver rings. Each box’s contents is based on one of the different tales. Each single piece of jewellery is extravagant and intricate, featuring secret compartments, green stones and in the case of one ring, many different layers, all wore together on one finger.
Sarah describes the jewellery as ‘both outrageous and demure… each jewellery collection includes an outrageous piece to wear and hidden away is an item for everyday wear.’
The impossibility of displaying every element that make up each piece led to Sarah developing unique ways to display them, such as hand-made books, which open to reveal selected quotes from the stories and secret compartments in which sits the jewellery.
Sarah shows me another desk on which a number of boards lay, on which are pinned a series of rough workings and experiments using copper and paper – a common practise when the finalised piece is going to be made using expensive silver.
Sarah says her original intention was to take a route of textiles and painting, but after discovering the jewellery making studio, a new path was set.
Outside of University, Sarah is a mum of two and the co-founder of the Penistone Artisan Fayre and following her degree, she hopes to get her work recognise and to get it into some recognised galleries.
Joanne showed me painting, already hung on the wall, which was made up of a number of sections – alternating between panels which looks like photomontage sunk beneath some kind of marble veneer and abstract images of poppy fields. That is my initial interpretation, but Joanne explains that it is about war and social injustice, as indeed is all of her work she says.
She shows me a series of collages made from news reel clippings of conflicts in Sierra Leone, Syria, and in Israel and Palestine, along with her own painted symbols and painted images of drones.
I also take a look at a collection of postcard books. One of them has a cover which has a sunny ‘greetings from Syria’ message but the inside reveals stark and simple images which try to show the horror of atrocities in those regions. They remind me of the cartoons of Marjane Satrapi.
Joanne taught herself to draw and paint while living in Spain. She moved back to the UK a few years ago and after a series of cleaning jobs, she decided that she needed to put her creativity to use. Three years later, on completion of her degree, Joanne hopes to go onto get an adult learning qualification and later teach art.
ANDREW WILLIAM PARKER
Andrew takes me to a studio space full to breaking with his paintings – I count around twenty-five but there are probably more.
He is about to hang the centre-piece to his final collection a triptych called Three Kings, which was inspired by a car crash that he was in when he was three or four. Each canvas shows a childlike demon figure wearing a bright yellow crown; each surrounded by a thick wash of white emulsion. The triptych is wrapped in two banners that say ‘I went with my mum to get some ciggies from the shop. Mum’s face was covered in blood. It was really bad. It changed things.’
They not only remind me of the universal child symbolism of Jean Michele Basquiat but also of my own art practise from my final year, way back in 2003.
Looking around the room, you can see the blatant progression of Andrew’s (or Billy as he likes to be called) work throughout his final year. These naive characters appear in a number of the later works, and before them a number of abstract paintings of nostalgic toys such a Thunderbirds and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and those juxtaposed with those memories of the horrific car crash are startling.
“All of my work in the first and second year was based upon nostalgia. Not my own, but based upon old found photographs. That eventually led to this. I was wary about using such personal themes in my work at first and that’s why I left it until my final year.”
Andrew was a self-employed builder until he was 21 and decided to return to his original love of fine art, and now hopes to go on to study an MA.https://www.facebook.com/pages/AWParker/495054873867780
Despite experimenting with print-making during her first year, Emma is primarily a painter. Emma says that her practice is influenced by all kinds of artists, ranging from painters such as David Hocknet, R. B. Kitaj, Jean Michele Basquiat’s use symbols and the German Expressionists, along with photojournalist and fashion photographer William Klein and American Helen Levitt, who was known for her street photography.
“I’m excited by painting and I like seeing how excited other artists get about their work. It makes me feel like it is all worthwhile.”
I asked Emma if she knew what piece(s) would be going into the exhibition at The Civic and although she didn’t know, she said that she was happy for any of them to feature.
Emma original did three years at Barnsley College studying National Diplomas in Art. She hopes to become a professional painter. She says that she dreams of going to American to sell her art, but would happily go to London.
Emma says it’s a little disappointing that there isn’t a great platform for artists to sell their work in Barnsley. ‘Barnsley can often be out of touch when it comes to art but I like trying to talk people round who aren’t necessarily into art and helping them art that they can identify with.’
You can view Emma’s work here.