Camberwell Degree Show 2011
Note from the editor: Over the next couple of weeks we are going to be releasing features on various 2011 degree shows that our team were lucky enough to have visited. Given our limited set-up it was impossible to feature every artist we saw, let alone every show across the country, and for that we can only apologise. But to make amends we are giving you, our readers, the opportunity to submit your own work to be featured in one final feature on the class of 2011 at the end of next week. Just email your full name, degree, college, an image of your work and a brief description to firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you! MH
Before I even start to talk about the work at the Camberwell College of Arts degree show (http://www.showtime.arts.ac.uk/camberwell), I have to first mention the fact that on the night of the private view it was pissing down with rain and the tight gits at the uni did not provide one drop of free booze. I can therefore summarize my experience of the show in a few short words: damp, sweaty, and sobering. Despite this, there were a few things worth checking out.
For one reason or another, I started my journey at the back of the building in the BA Photography section. The photos were laid out well and it seems they had spent time thinking about how you would move through the interconnecting rooms. Unfortunately, once in the space there were few things that really held my attention for long, with a trifle too much GCSE style social documentary for my liking. I then moved onto BA Ceramics, where I found some teapots, a few objects for the mantle piece, and an assemblage of clay slabs that a friend instructed me to write about, but I can’t for the life of me remember the artists name. I do, however remember the BA Painting section thanks largely to the odd child size models that were dotted around the space. At first, I thought William David Marriott’s mutated sculptures to be in poor taste and made all manner of assumptions as to what they would mean: abuse, neglect, blahdi blah blah. Yet, as I walked around the space I began to grow fond of them, particularly the one positioned next to the sink. I have no idea what they are called, and until I find out they shall be known simply as the ‘Unsettling babies’.
After making my way through the extensive ‘Drawing’ section, I finally managed to locate BA Illustration, undoubtedly the strongest part of the show. Perhaps it is because they are largely free of the pretensions that go with the more “art” heavy courses that the illustration students, on the whole, have managed to produce work that is witty, inventive, and a breath a fresh air from the rest of the show. As well as the work of Mint mag’s own resident illustrators Kyle Platts (http://www.kyleplatts.com) and Tom Slater (http://thomasslaterillustrator.blogspot.com/), there is plenty to choose from. Personal favorites include William Flawn (www.flickr.com/photos/williamflawn), whose monochrome comic ‘The CCC’ is the first part in an on going dark but humorous narrative, Sophy Hollington (www.sophyhollington.com), who produces what I would describe as crayon based prints full of odd characters and cultural references, and finally Rosie Eveleigh (http://www.rosieeveleigh.com), whose work reminds me of child like pencil drawn deconstructions of modernist paintings, but in a good way.
Speaking of abstract symbolism, BA Graphic Design was certainly a close contender for best in show. The room was well curated with the students running a shop within the space to sell their prints, and despite the repetitive use of triangles, there were a couple of very nice pieces that caught my eye. Justine Melford-Colegate’s (www.jmcolegate.com) multi-media presentation was perhaps the most impressive in its content, with a video displaying the process she undertook to mould volcanic rock from Iceland into a diamond form, while Dan Powell’s (www.danielpow.com) understated text and poster design for the show fitted in seamlessly (so much so that I nearly missed it, which is surely the aim of good design). I must also quickly mention Roland Beaven’s (www.rolandbeaven.co.uk)‘Peaucellier Lamp’ shown in the BA 3D Design space, a rather elaborate but elegant looking design that will no doubt soon be produced on a much larger scale. The design sections were nice but felt like a sauna, so I quickly ascended to the vast top floor to catch BA sculpture. It was easily the best space, but was disappointingly curated and I spent far too much time talking to people to remember the work, though I do recall a giant tigers head on the wall.
All in all, it seems that the insular nature of the south east London arts scene has had a negative effect on the students of Camberwell. You never set your hopes too high when visiting a degree show, but overall, it was quite an underwhelming experience. Much of the work appeared to blatantly copy obvious trends in an uninventive way, or even worse copied the work of fellow students. I mean, it’s great to have a house style but come on! That said, not all the work was bad, and as well as those students mentioned above there are numerous people I could and probably should have mentioned, so apologies for that. I must also point out that Camberwelldians do throw much better parties than the other art unis, which is always a bonus.