Sunday, 29 March 2015

Off The Hook

It's that time of year; as undergraduate degree shows loom, hundreds of Art students wait anxiously to find out which space they will be exhibiting in. The workshops are a hive of activity with students working hard to bring their 3 or 4 year Fine Art degree to a close with an exhibition that they can be proud of and that will hopefully launch their careers as professional artists.

There is a surge in the number of exhibitions of work by final year students as they test out installation ideas, both on their own and in the context of a group exhibition.

'Off The Hook' is one such exhibition. It features sculpture, print and drawing by Rene McBrearty, Jess Thorsby and Alex Searle, whom are all final year students at Newcastle University. 

The three artists have filled both spaces of the System Gallery, Newcastle. I sense an eagerness to exhibit as much as possible. This results in the works feeling rather cramped which is a shame as the work is strong and many of the works could occupy the gallery on their own. It's a common belief, that the space needs to be filled with stuff, but this has the effect of undermining the power of the work individually. Perhaps this is particularly important in the case of sculptures which require the viewer to move around them, and this can become problematic when such movement causes the viewer to bump into other sculptures. The desire to put lots in is a tendency that I am wary of in my own practice, and when I reflect on some of my previous exhibitions, I immediately recognise that by including lots in a space, the space became cluttered and the works were compromised by having little room to breathe . A possible explanation for this cramming habit is a lack of confidence or an anxiety about needing to show the amount of work that has been produced.

I hope that each artist gets a real boost from the exhibition and takes this experience on board when installing their degree shows. I look forward to seeing what they produce. If 'Off The Hook' is anything to go by, we are in for a treat!

System Gallery, 22 Leazes Park Road, Newcastle

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