University Campus Barnsley held their Interdisciplinary Art & Design Degree show at The Civic for the first time this week. Titled 28°, the exhibition showcases students work in various disciplines, including painting, sculpture, illustration, printmaking, ceramics and jewellery making.
With work displayed in both the Gallery and on the Panorama; this is the perfect opportunity for a young artist to have a first exhibition in one of South Yorkshire’s finest galleries and also to showcase the students talent to our town. There is literally something for everyone here and as always with a degree show, it’s a real mixed bag.
I have a few personal highlights. The first was Michael Sheer; one of his works attracted me from the other side of the Panorama. It looked like an ornate mirror from a distance, until you got up close and you realised it was a framed collage of used lottery scratchcards. Awash with shimmers of blues and silvers and the grey of the latex; it not only reminded me of the repetition of Gilbert and George’s recent postcard collages but also of Damien Hirst’s Judgement Day; a high gloss gold cabinet filled with diamonds. It’s strange seeing yourself in the reflection of objects like that.
One of my favourite works on display incorporated product design, wood work and metal work. Peter Robert’s stunning chessboard and box had been produced as a game for three players, using three sets of playing pieces made out of what looked like steel, bronze and brass; each being constructed out of nuts, bolts, ball bearings etc. The base being made out of small cut sheets of alternating coloured metal made this object a beautiful work of sculpture and not just a perfect piece of product design.
Jan Gwillam’s pair of maps; one a strict black and white print reminded me of Stanley Donwood’s maps. This was juxtaposed with a second which was sold white with the only variation of hues laying in the shadows created by the reverse image impressed into the paper. Part of the maps were recognisable as possibly Barnsley town centre roundabout and I literally was stood in front of these two prints for ten minutes with my head spinning, trying to work out which way round they were. Chance is they weren’t even of Barnsley and probably constructs of the imagination. Regardless; I really enjoyed them.
My absolute essential works there were by Lorrinda Mills. The first was a beautiful painted portrait of a girl; partly referencing art history with Vermeer’s blue head scarf but with a modern face, it tells a different story of feminism with the girl’s blouse being made of collages of torn pages from what I think was Little Women. And with that 100% Pure bangle, it brings the portrait right up to the 21st Century with a potential reference to a straight edge lifestyle.
Her other works included a series of small Schiele inspired figurative sketches and a life size plaster sculpture of a woman sat a sewing table, stitching her lips together. Part body horror; part literary inspired feminism; it was hard not to be drawn to this as it sat in the middle of the gallery as it looked almost like a marble statue from afar.
One other artwork which I quite liked was an installation set up in the first room just off the entrance of the gallery; usually set up for showing films. Through the cut out window in the wall (it normally houses a plasma screen) was a collection of many, many tagged and labelled and jars and shells and a table but all looked like the kind of images you see in a olde ship wreck; each coated with many decades and layers of sand and debris. It was reflective and beautiful and reminded me of Louise Bourgeois’ Cells and also partly of Tracey Emin’s framed found objects about her father.
When I asked Natasha Taylor about her work, she said that she loves beaches and beach-combing and her work is inspired by ‘the idea of ordering things and linking them to how we live our lives and bringing an obsession inside and taking over a person’s life so they eat sleep breathe something. I looked at the work of Mark Dion; mostly with his collections and trying to emulate that effect in my own way.’
The rest of her graduate exhibition included framed works, near 500 sketches and collages. When I asked her about her thoughts of having the chance to exhibit in The Civic, she said ‘it was really good seeing my work in a real gallery space and to be given more space to spread out my work more. I was a little pushed for space in uni. I wasn’t there when they were setting up in The Civic (I would have been more of a hindrance with my wheelchair in the way). Seeing it in that space was amazing. People thought I was a bit mad getting all those jars but I think it really needed them all. The Civic is more likely to get more of an audience there which is always good!’
I think it is fantastic that an arts space like The Civic is giving local students the chance to exhibit their degree collections there and I certainly hope that this is the first of many collaborations with the UCB.
There is much more on display and not just the personal highlights of mine that I have mentioned. Wall sculptures, some beautiful prints by Stephanie Edmunds which reminded me of Louis Wain, wonderfully crafted jewellery, some stunning photoreal paintings are among the many work displayed for all to see; literally something for everyone and if you have a spare hour this week, I really recommend a visit. Support our local talent.
28° runs until Fri 13th July.
@ The Panorama and The Gallery in The Civic.
Time: Mon – Sat 10am – 5pm, Sun 10am – 4pm
Since its total overhaul a few years ago, Yorkshire Sculpture Park has become arguably the UK’s finest outdoor art space; bringing to the public a variety of revolving and permanent exhibitions of both traditional and the best of contemporary sculpture.
It’s hard to believe it but YSP’s latest exhibition, Miró: Sculptor, is actually the first ever exhibition of the surrealist masters sculptures in the UK; confirming both Yorkshire and it’s Sculpture Park’s importance in contemporary art. The exhibition follows two major art events in 2011; the first major retrospective of the Catalan artist’s work in almost 50 years at Tate Modern and the opening of Hepworth Wakefield; a major exhibition space which celebrates Yorkshire as the birth of British sculpture.
YSP already did a wonderful job of celebrating Yorkshire and the best British sculpture with its plethora of permanent displays by Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Anthony Caro, Andy Goldsworthy and Antony Gormley among many, many others and the opening Hepworth Wakefield only confirms Yorkshire’s importance in British and international sculpture. However, Miró: Sculptor gives YSP a whole new level of gravitas.
The show is impressive; not just because of the work displayed but also in the curation of said work. YSP doesn’t hold back. They hit you straight off with three of their largest works on display in the very first room; showing off both their amazing gallery space and the sheer enormity of what they have here. As the light comes in through the lakeside windows and floods the ‘Underground (the space is actually dug out of the hill side facing the lake) Gallery’, three solid black bronzes against a white background dwarfs the visitors with all manner of obtuse lumps, limbs and contortions. It’s the perfect first move.
The following rooms showcase Miró’s first encounters with Dadaist found objects and his early attempts at bringing a new dimension to his form of surrealism. We see not only the evolution of found objects to plaster maquettes and small scale bronzes but also the transformation of many of these into some of the monumental bronze and resin works which are displayed in the park’s beautiful gardens. This process will enlighten fans of sculpture, those already hardened Miró fans but also those out there that may still find contemporary art a struggle.
A surprise feature to this show is the juxtaposition of sculpture with many of Miró’s etching and lithograph based work; an experimentally creative (albeit commercial) venture which many of the masters took up in their later years. There is one specific room which uses both print works and sculptures to full effect. The prints are of particular interest to me because I used to sell them in London galleries. The medium of print became just as much of a creative and experimental medium for Miro as sculpture but more notably in his later years. Though as good as they are, by no mean is this show about the prints. These are used as a tool to highlight the creative process; something which has been attempted (and failed) many times before with other artists in other galleries; most notably Dali.
My only gripe, and believe me it is very minor one is other than a video, there isn’t much in the exhibition to shed light on the artist’s fascinating and tragic past in war torn Catalonia or the period in which while he was at the peak of his adventures in sculpture, he literally “strove to destroy painting through an art form that transcended the two-dimensional plane”, intentionally painting canvases just to then burn them to ashes. And yes, I realise that this exhibition is a focus on the sculptural process but I feel this would have highlighted Miró’s importance at a creative force in all art forms, just as the print work displayed tries to.
In a year when the Olympics will be drawing all attention to the many overtly British exhibitions taking place in London this summer, such as Damien Hirst and Edvard Munch at Tate Modern and tourist monsters such as The Queen at National Portrait Gallery, do not let Miró: Sculptor at Yorkshire Sculpture Park get lost under your radar… you will be missing out on one of the year’s most important art exhibitions outside of the capital; right in your own back garden.
The exhibition is free entry with a payable parking charge of £5, which is a bargain considering similar shows in London would be £10 - £13 per person. As well as Miró: Sculptor, there much more on offer, with a couple of smaller exhibitions by other artists and designers and the always brilliant permanent displays within the park and grounds around Bretton Hall.
All images courtesy of YSP. © Jonty Wilde
Photo credits. Top - Bottom:
- Joan Miró, Personnage Gothique, Oiseau Eclair, 1976 © Successió Miró/ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2012
- Joan Miró, Personnage 1970 © Successió Miró/ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2012. Photo Jonty Wilde
- Joan Miró, Project for a Monument, 1979 © Successió Miró/ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2012. Photo Gabriel Ramon