Art college graduates exhibiting at Tatha Gallery in Newport have not allowed their creative talents to be curtailed by the pandemic.
Having had their final year of study cut short – as well as missing out on the rite of passage that is a degree show – these 12 artists demonstrate that creativity can continue to flourish even in the most trying of times.
Tatha owner and director Lindsay Bennett says the gallery decided to branch out for its first exhibition of the year, The Graduates: Four Pillars. Due to ongoing Covid restrictions, its entire run will be virtual.
“This is the second year we have done a graduate show,” explains Lindsay. “The first time we stayed with Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee. I felt we needed to move out into the wider area so we thought the easiest point was to start with the four colleges in the cities closest to us.
“That’s where the name Four Pillars came from because we are going to Dundee, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.”
It features artists Fanny Arnesen, Hannah Barker, Emma Boiston, Catherine Eckersall, Lauren Ferguson, Josie Jones, Hannah Lim, Eve McGlynn, Sophie Percival, Zuzanna Salamon, Dominika Ucar and George Williams.
Lindsay and gallery assistant Clare Mackie selected the exhibitors by looking at the virtual degree shows presented by Edinburgh College of Art, Glasgow School of Art, Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen, and Dundee’s Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (DJCAD).
“It was a challenge but I am really delighted to say it’s come together,” Lindsay continues.
Online exhibitions have become the norm and this show has both a video tour and a 360-degree virtual tour, in which you can “walk” around the calm and pristine space from piece to piece – even catching a glimpse of the stunning Tay views through the sash and case windows.
Lindsay says: “We have done an awful lot to make this one work. It will give people an opportunity to feel the space.”
The striking works vary in style, medium and size. A virtual stroll confirms these young artists as true emerging talents.
Lauren Ferguson, 22, from Edinburgh, studied for her degree at Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen. She is exhibiting meticulous works in oil and also graphite.
She explains: “It was definitely a challenge at the end of the year but I did feel like we had closure because Gray’s did a fantastic virtual degree show and that was quite a rewarding experience as they made the most of the situation.
“In the summer I was selected as artist in resident for Leith School of Art. I have a studio space so I feel like I’ve been really lucky this year.”
Josie Jones, 22, is from Worcestershire and studied at DJCAD in Dundee. Her mother hails from the city and she still has family there. Her atmospheric and colourful works are created using a range of media.
She says: “We had a really good online degree show which is nice, because then you had something to look forward to and work towards, which kept the momentum going.
“I felt really fortunate as most of my work is on paper and I am painting. Even though I had a bit of a lack of space it was a lot easier to carry on.”
“My works are similar with the root of memories and place. I try to distil atmospheres, making a dreamscape version of how I would remember a place. I also get a lot of inspiration from photography. My parents are both photographers so I feel like it’s been rooted in me to have an appreciation for photography.”
One of the things Josie loved about studying at DJCAD was the freedom given to students to discover their own paths. “DJCAD is a really nurturing school,” she says.
Lauren says of Gray’s: “I loved it. It’s such a small art school and you get to know your peers and the staff so well. It’s really friendly and you feel well supported. One of the main things is the emphasis on drawing and how that’s implemented in the course. That was a big part of what I loved there.”
Lauren adds: “My work derives from a sense of place and I have a particular interest in memories and history and associated objects with areas to which I have a personal connection. Two of the works in the exhibition are from my degree show and two are new works that I made on my residency that are focusing on an area up north that I have lots of childhood memories from.”
“Edinburgh is definitely full of amazing spaces and buildings so that’s where I get a lot of my inspiration from.”
The Graduates: Four Pillars runs until April 3.