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I'm an arts journalist & PR consultant living and working in Scotland. I've been a journalist for more than 25 years. I write a regular column for Scottish quality newspaper, The Herald. I deliver a PR service with an arty bent and work on a consultancy basis with arts organisations, including Scotland's leading creative industries festival, XpoNorth & broadcast support body, ScreenHI. I am currently co-writing a book about the celebrated Scots artist, George Wyllie, with his daughter Louise. Instrumental in making a celebration of his life's work happen in 2012. For more information, see www.georgewyllie.com When I'm not being a mum/working, I talk to my dog. He laps it up. Contact me on janpatience@me.com (All work © Jan Patience)

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

That was Degree Show Time... in Dundee

BRENDAN COLLINS puts finishing touches to his Degree Show work


Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design
University of Dundee, 13 Perth Road, Dundee
01382 385330

If you have studied for a degree, you will vividly remember the build-up to the moment when you found out what grading you’d been given.
So when I walked into the splendid new entrance of Dundee’s Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (DJCAD) a few days ago, and found myself pitched into a gaggle of Fine Art undergraduates receiving their marks, I felt for every one of them.
Later, in one of the college’s many studios pressed into service as temporary exhibition spaces, I met one of their number, Ross Weryk, tweaking his installation, Hospital. This powerful work uses sound, video and sculpture to make a visceral statement about the way in which hospital patients become helpless in the face of medical intervention and pain.
A slightly flushed looking Ross had just heard he’d been gained a first class degree. As we talked and I looked at his work, which even shows film of him having his own blood extracted (talk about a metaphor), I learned that his mother died last year from cancer.
This spurred him on him, he told me, to go deeper than ever into his work and follow up an existing interest in cosmetic surgery.
I can see why he was awarded a first. As the late George Wyllie once said, ‘When you’re genuine with your art, you strike a chord and everything is all right.’
Putting together a degree show is a double-edged sword, and this being a degree show, let me tell you there are at least two swords on display here. One of them, presented by brothers Fraser and Calum Brownlee is deep fried and sitting in a bath of oil, and the other, presented by Dorian Braun and Jack Paton, has a large sign beside declaring, ‘Danger do not touch’.
These artists-in-waiting have all reached the end of four years of working towards an honours degree, and putting on what for many of them, is their first major exhibition in a public space. 
Art careers are often made at degree shows. 
Traditionally, they are edgy affairs. Taboo subjects are tackled with youthful gusto (nope, still can’t get the sight of that green member jiggling about in Jacqueline Chua’s video out of my mind, try as I might...) and many have still to learn how to put the old adage of ‘less is more’ into practice.
Dundee’s DJCAD, currently celebrating its 125th anniversary, is traditionally the first degree show to take place each year out of Scotland’s five art schools.
This year, the degree show is called 290°, a nod to the fact Dundee’s largest annual exhibition of art and design will feature the work of 290 final-year students, while an additional exhibition of alumni artwork will be held for the duration of the show.
Students from DJCAD’s 11 undergraduate programmes are all represented here.
It’s tempting to root out themes in a degree show and if there is one, it appears to be about searching for a bridge between tradition and the making of solid things.
Digital technology is used to augment hand-crafted, drawn or painted work, although there is some fine ‘pure painting’ from Allan Davies and Brendan Collins. I also enjoyed the freshness of Jaynie Topping’s landscapes, prints and sculptures, which mix up geology, geography, issues of land ownership and a sense of poetry connected to the land.
Cathy O’Brien’s Minotaur work is a fusion of craft meets sculpture meets video work and shows exceptional attention to detail. 
Jonny Lyons takes a boy’s own view of weaponry by making and displaying quite beautifully crafted sculptural versions of weapons and then documenting their use through photography in a touchingly boyish way. A black and white picture of a graveyard needs no artist statement.
Calum Crotch from Time Based Art and Digital Film dances to his own drum beat in a carefully constructed tented festival venue. There is purpose here, and he has already been accepted onto Creative Scotland's Starter For Six programme to further develop his ideas into a working business.
In Art Philosophy Contemporary Practices, Dan Shay gained a first for his thoughtful examination of how we blur the boundaries between the real and the virtual. This is intelligent work which can also be taken at face value.
Next door to his ‘shed’, I found Morgan Cahn putting the finishing touches to her shiny ‘reflective space’. Sporting one of her famous-around-the-campus handprinted t-shirts bearing the legend, ‘there is life after degree show’, Cahn plays with many disciplines, including; performance, film, textiles, printmaking and text. She is the living embodiment of the fact that it is almost impossible to pin down any degree show.
All human life is here. And more. Just watch out for double-edged swords.

Steven Camley
Smithy Gallery 74 Glasgow Road, Blanefield
01360 770551
Until June 9

One of Steve Camley's watercolours - love this!

In the daily hubbub of the rolling news machine which is the background to all our lives, it’s easy to take for granted the creative spark which goes into producing a cartoon every week day.
But day in, day out, come rain or shine, as news stories flare up, politicians come and go and public figures drift in and out of our collective consciousness, cartoonists across the world sit down at a blank page, and turn out little nuggets of genius. 
I am sure there are many people reading this now who turn to Steve Camley’s cartoon on the comment pages of The Herald every Monday to Friday before they look at anything else.
Since 2003, Camley has been this newspaper’s resident cartoonist. He has been named Cartoonist of the Year in the Scottish Press Awards six times in that period. Prior to this, with sister paper, The Sunday Herald, and Scotland on Sunday, he picked up three further awards.
It’s not often cartoonists make the leap from newsprint to gallery wall, but thanks to an intervention from his friend, author and artist, Alasdair Gray, 65 original watercolours by Camley will be adorning the walls of The Smithy Gallery in Blanefield for the next three weeks. 
According to gallery owner, Natalie Harrison, Gray – who exhibited with the gallery last year – suggested to her that she consider an exhibition of his friend’s work.
“Alasdair is a big fan of Steven's work,” she explains. “He went through hundreds of paintings with me to choose the final 65. 
“I’ve never held an exhibition of this kind. We see these cartoons every day in print, and I am delighted to be dedicating an exhibition to celebrate the talent behind them. The original watercolour paintings are full of high-quality draughtsmanship, wit and energy. They are also quite beautiful.”
Gray adds: “Newspaper cartoons are sold cheaply in such large quantities that hardly anyone thinks the original pictures from which they are scanned have value untill after the cartoonist dies. 
“This exhibition is a chance to acquire an original work to enjoy before posterity catches up with you.’

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