Liverpool John Moores University
Liverpool John Moores University
Me Myself & Art
Liverpool John Moores University's fine art exhibition disguised itself as My Myself & Art in order to avoid being 'just another degree show'. Aiming for slight confusion and intrigue within those who closely follow Liverpool's art scene, the twenty-three artists were hoping to separate themselves by both name and image, putting their own individuality at the forefront and going as far as using it as this year's theme.
The aptly named exhibition was promoted by the artists' own faces – the poster included portraits of all those involved, each one on a black background, with each artist representing their creative oeuvre, whether through make-up, props or facial expression. Arranged in a grid, the final image was an eye-catching mosaic of ideas and with the fine detail of twenty-three faces it surely influenced some visitors' decision to attend the show. These portraits, taken by photographer and student Viktorija Grigorjevaite were presented as one of the artworks in the exhibition at the front of the gallery, inviting everyone in.
From laser-cut wood drawings and string installations to more traditional painting, the exhibition showcased a range of works, yet it was possible to discern a focus on process. Unlike the university's Fine Art shows in the previous years, the artists of Me Myself & Art put emphasis on the visual qualities of the final results. This is art created in a studio setting, worked on over time, requiring careful planning and patience.
The colourful large-scale prints by Alexander Hughes were the perfect example of this. Having developed a personal symbolic language in which he uses recurring animal imagery, he creates collages, painstakingly cut out by hand and arranged into patterns. Inspired by Rorschach's inkblot tests, these were later photographed and mirrored digitally, enlarged and printed. The result was a surprising set of jewel-like patterns reminiscent of African masks. It was only after very careful inspection that the separate elements could be spotted. Somehow Hughes manages to make even Black Widow spiders look beautiful.
It seems that throughout the exhibition, even those who use digital media as their main creative tool almost always first prepared by hand. David Carse's set of photographs explores the idea that nothing is original, and raise questions about authenticity and the limits of creative 'theft' in order to make something wholly unique. Prior to taking the final photos, Carse collected imagery found in fashion magazines and scanned them to later project onto himself and other models, mimicking the poses in the projected images. The outcome was an unsettling layering of shapes and colour, making the viewer look closer to make out a hand or head, with difficulty trying to discern which came first – the artist posing in the background, or the indistinct but impeccably dressed fashion model?
Next up, blurring the lines between drawing, sculpture and installation were Jade Collin's wooden pieces. Using ideas of space as a starting point, Collin is an artist who works with different processes in order to fully recognise her creative direction. Starting with photographic imagery later turned into charcoal drawings, she then converts those into geometrical laser-cut etchings using varying depths of cut to achieve a range of shades. Alongside these, she also exhibited a sculpture. Unassuming in size, the set of box-like shapes could be compared to a mismatched architectural model of a house with a light source in front, creating perfectly formed 'space shadows' on the wall.
Of course, there were also painters; the delicate square paintings by Rachel Mcardle with their pink hues and subtle air of melancholy were one of the highlights of she show, quietly demanding careful attention from the more curious viewers. Lastly, Loren Thompson's large-scale paintings touch on the political and religious struggles prominent in Northern Ireland. Although it was difficult to
discern the thematic interests at first glance, the visual qualities of the pieces perfectly exemplified the artist's skill.
Me Myself & Art was a show that perhaps did not inspire controversy, but initiated positive debate and gathered many a favourable opinion. The refined works were showcased in a way that highlighted their strengths within a professional gallery setting, while the number of students meant that the size of the show was far from overbearing. Let's see how well they do in the future. But for now, it is safe to say – not bad at all for 'just another degree show'.
Words by Maja Lorkowska