I love a Fine Art Degree show! They are a great way to see a variety of new artists, new talent, a culmination of their 3+ years at University, a real show-off of the student’s best work – and the Salford University Degree Show 2022 was just that.
I was extremely impressed with the work on show, the students have ended the year on a high and they have created a fantastic exhibition. I had the pleasure of meeting one of the tutors there, Angela, who shown me and my 1 year daughter, Luna, around the exhibition.
Talking to Angela, she explained how this year of students suffered the most with Covid lockdowns, missing huge chunks of time at Uni and having to study independently from home. She said this has perhaps been why paintings are so heavily featured in this year’s show. Painting is something that can be done at home, instead of sculpture and other art forms where you need to be in the studios with the correct kit. There was a lot of paintings in the exhibition but still, they were all so varied and there were some stand out pieces too, including:
Darcy Ganson’s painting, man, this piece really got to me. I had an emotional reaction to this which I haven’t had in a long time. Darcy is an expecting mother, and I too gave birth late 2020 to Luna (who by this point felt confident enough to come out of her pram and walk around by herself). This huge painting of the female torso, pregnant with full breasts, was so beautifully painted and really empowering. It took me back to my pregnancy, which was a smooth one as pregnancies go, but I didn’t enjoy it. But now, seeing my little girl in front of me, and this painting celebrating the female body, it got me right in the ovaries which pulled at my heart strings. Stunning work indeed!
I also loved Olga Mun’s work. Olga’s work was in our ‘In Manchester’ exhibition, so it was amazing to see more of her pieces up at Salford Uni. Her work is so colourful and joyful, and the more you look, the more you see within the painting. Faces start to appear within the colour, figures and details start to emerge. Her work is like a colourful hug, aiming to bring together communities and people, showing how we are all connected.
Another big painting piece, or installation, was that of Maria Christou. She filled her whole space to recreate her studio, a messy, full studio at that. Angela explained that on the launch night of the exhibition, Maria sat and painted throughout the night. I can imagine her being so focused on her work, ignoring all the guests and commotion, and being in a sort of painting frenzy. The whole space is filled with her work and it’s a real ‘woah’ moment when you see it.
Moving away from paintings, I also loved Chloe Julia Smith’s work. On the opening night she did a performance piece. As a dancer, she links her dance to her art. She created her own soundtrack and used this to influence her moves. With the walls and floor covered in paper, Chloe danced with charcoal (I think) and covered the space with traces of her movements an body. Gutted I didn’t see this live, but even as an installation without Chloe there, the work is really impressive and beautiful.
I also loved Jacob Longcake’s work. Jacob has worked at a couple of our Art All Dayer events, but I had never actually seen his art. I noticed his work before I knew it was his. He created these very detailed drawings-come-printmaking pieces that study Brutalist architecture. These grey on white pieces, are both quiet in their paired back look, and loud as they stand out against all the colour of the paintings around it. Truly unique work – well done Jacob!
One more I wanted to mention was the work by Elinor Farrow. This was a really impressive piece and the artist made so much work. The whole installation included paintings, sculptures, video art and more. It was like you had stepped into a weird dream, like a Dali-esque space, with all these eyes watching you. It was really surreal and I loved it. The quality was amazing, you would totally see this in a gallery.
Luna was a fan of a lot of the work too, the very creepy video by Lauren Chapman and the bed piece by James Wright were her favourites!
Speaking to Angela about this year’s students, she was saying how some of them have really made up for their missed years, creating a huge catalogue of work during their time in the studio. She said how it was so tough to curate due to the sheer volume of work each student had created.
It was great to hear also that the students were doing extra curriculum work outside of the Uni. As mentioned, Olga has been part of our exhibition and also hosted at one of our Art Talks, Jacob has worked at our Art All Dayer events, and Angela tells me people have received scholarships, and worked with galleries like The Turnpike and organisations like Cart-Wheel Arts.
It was a huge pleasure to see such amazing work from the final year students, and I wish them all the luck in their results and whatever they wish to do after their studies. I also look forward to following their journey and hopefully working with them at our future events! They were all incredible and have put together a really amazing degree show.
The exhibition at the New Aldephi Building at Salford University can be viewed by appointment until 25th June, please email Angela on [email protected] to make an appointment.