Avenir Magazine
Avenir Magazine | Art The Future

Top Graduate Shows

Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art

Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art

 Ally Clark

Ally Clark

Ruskin degree show featured work of 23 students showing the final pieces of their three year degree, in 2014. Held in the Green Shed in west Oxford, an enormous disused warehouse reachable by way of canal footpaths, the exhibition was marked by the diversity of work and especially the high quality of the multimedia artwork. The highly personal nature of the degree show was striking despite the loose media-groupings: the vast size of the Shed allowed for each students individual work to create its own space, whilst altogether generating a collective atmosphere of dynamic creativity.

Indeed, dynamism was a key element in much of the work itself. Emily Motto’s Moira’s Lounge explored the physicality of figurative forms in relation to their flat representation in virtual digital images and drew upon her previous experiments with the non sustainability of the physical materials used. The decomposition of different doughs and the ongoing process of yeast reactions create work of a specifically temporal nature. Motto's work behaves as figures, “sensual, tactile, fragile, unstable and transient”.

Ally Clark’s work equally draws upon the unexpected tactility of objects, though synthetic and static as opposed to organic and unsteady. Her fascination with mass produced objects and desire to recontextualise them into weird new settings gives these items a “new internal logic of their own: a sassy kind of weird one”. She creates a “conversational narrative” between the objects of “cheeky, dark and often humorous possibilities”: the bright block colours of the work disconcertingly jarring with the subversive combinations of the installations. Blocked Sink, featuring a plunger and dozens of bronze disembodied fingers lying on a pink chopping board, laughs darkly at the fears associated with household jobs, the detail and texture of the metal fingers contrasting with the plastic and rubber of the household appliances.

 Joel Scott-Halkes 

Joel Scott-Halkes 

In addition, the Ruskin’s acquisition of cutting edge video equipment led to some incredibly exciting multi-disciplinary work, especially that of Joel Scott-Halkes. Joel’s work, a video set behind large distorted plaster sculptures, created a narrative linking the historical delineation of land through the beating of the bounds with the collective experiences of drug use in order to examine patriarchal hierarchies. The piece aimed to “trace the roots of the violence inherent and institutionalized in our society,” through contrasting a variety of bizarre and divergent situations. He writes, “by morphing the archaic traditions of an anglo-saxon parish into the sci-fi court of an amphetamine serving King Lear, I wanted to question whether the hierarchies we suffer under today are organic or artificial, historical or contemporaneous and in so doing assess the validity of utopian notions of a classless identity and egalitarian purpose.” The druidic white of the villagers’ gowns became the clinical white of the King’s gown; the fluidity and interchangeability of the characters emphasise the constancy of authority.

Other Ruskin highlights included Nathaniel Whitfield’s eerie multi-media pieces and Grace Thompson’s playful paintings. The divergent approaches and media of the finalists’ work, as well as at the consistently high quality, made the 2014 degree show particularly outstanding.

 

Words by Charlotte Sykes

 

Avenir MagazineComment