Preview: Dundee art students show off stunning artwork ahead of degree show

© Steve MacDougall
Aimee Cargill, 21, with her jewellery work.

Dundee University is being transformed into Scotland’s largest exhibition space for the 2017 Art, Design & Architecture Degree Show. Gayle Ritchie had a sneak peek at some of the exhibits

A psychedelic shed that transports you to an other world, a giant steel rocking horse and an interactive installation that triggers classical music.

These are just three among thousands of works that will be on display when Dundee University is once again transformed into Scotland’s biggest exhibition space.

Dundee Art, Design and Architecture Degree Show – the annual showcase of student talent – begins its 10-day run tomorrow night.

Almost 350 final year art students from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design and the department of architecture, within the School of Social Sciences, will showcase their work across a range of disciplines, including fine art, jewellery, animation, architecture, illustration and product design.

This year’s cohort will be hoping to emulate the success of the likes of Turner Prize winner Susan Philipsz, illustrator Jo Basford, photographer Albert Watson, fashion designer Hayley Scanlan, film director David Mackenzie, video games pioneer Aaron Garbut, Star Wars animator Matt Cameron and the late painter Alberto Morrocco, who are all DJCAD alumni.

Ulrika Kjeldsen, 23, and her piece, Clydesdale Rocking Horse.© Steve MacDougall
Ulrika Kjeldsen, 23, and her piece, Clydesdale Rocking Horse.

One of the star exhibits is an eight and a half foot tall, 47 stone steel rocking horse depicting oppression and class tension within Scotland.

The giant Clydesdale was created by fine art student Ulrika Kjeldsen, 23, who is originally from the Aland Islands, an autonomous region of Finland.

She was inspired to study Scotland’s history after watching the play The Cheviot, The Stag and the Black, Black Oil at Dundee Rep last year.

“The Clydesdale represents the workforce of Scotland,” she said.

“The proud working horse is reduced to a plaything. I make art which the audience can touch and interact with in order to reflect on their own role in Scotland.”

Fine art student Lucy Buchanan, 21, with her work, Rumplesnumps.© Steve MacDougall
Fine art student Lucy Buchanan, 21, with her work, Rumplesnumps.

An exhibit that evokes nostalgia and fun is Lucy Buchanan’s colourful installation which focuses on being “uncool” and embraces the likes of Donny Osmond.

“Most things at art school are centred around being cool but I’m interested in stuff that’s not particularly cool,” said Lucy, 21, from Aberdour.

“I love the warmth, detail and imperfection of British stop-motion animations of the 1960s and 70s such as The Clangers and this inspired me to create a pair of unworldy creatures, The Rumplesnumps, which feature in an animation.”

Fine art student Zoe Gibson, 22, with her "red shed".© Steve MacDougall
Fine art student Zoe Gibson, 22, with her “red shed”.

Meanwhile Zoe Gibson’s alternate world full of stories, colour, magic and dark humour has as its star attraction a psychedelic “red shed” which challenges perception and “overloads the eyes”.

Zoe, 22, from Edinburgh, explained: “A lot of my work is about colour and looks at perception. Inside the red shed, your eyes flicker and when you come out, you see different colours. It’s about creating another world.”

Keiran Connelly’s installation, Symphonic, encourages the public to reimagine their perception of classical concerts and invites people to play different parts of his “orchestra”.

“Going to classical concerts can be seen as elitist,” said Keiran, 22, from Dundee.

“Symphonic mixes traditional music with new technologies to create a new classical sensory experience which blurs the lines between audience and orchestra. It’s triggered by sound waves and amplification.”

Interior environmental design student Keiran Connelly, 22 with music inspired Symphonic. © Steve MacDougall
Interior environmental design student Keiran Connelly, 22 with music inspired Symphonic.

Jewellery and metal design student Aimee Cargill, 21, from Glenrothes, designed some stunning neck pieces inspired by Scottish and Irish landscapes.

“I explored the Highlands and Islands and the mountains, seascape and lochs had a big impact on me,” she said.

Fossils found on beaches at East Wemyss and Crail form part of Joanne Hall’s installation.

“Fossils are a shadow of our ancient world – life forms inside rocks,” said Joanne, 29.

“I wanted to explore the relationship with our past before humans existed and I also ground down some fossils into ‘fossil dust’ to make prints.”

Joanne Hall, 29 with her piece Traces.© Steve MacDougall
Joanne Hall, 29 with her piece Traces.

Art philosophy student Mhairi Anton’s photos and prints are inspired by the 23-year-old’s experiences of anxiety and depression, while Mairi-Claire MacDonald’s Materialising Memories is inspired by her grandfather’s love of storytelling.

“As a dementia sufferer, my grandfather’s fragmented memories are illustrated in my designs through collaging photography, texture and text,” she said.

“Significant buildings, street signs and cultural markers around Dundee motivated a city narrative. Coding, circuits and screen-printed conductive inks allow surface design to become an interactive experience through touch and play, triggering familiar sounds of the street, home and childhood.”

Dean of DJCAD Professor Paul Harris. © Steve MacDougall
Dean of DJCAD Professor Paul Harris.

Professor Paul Harris, Dean of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, said this year’s exhibition offers something for everyone.

“There’s a wide range of work, from cutting edge design to some very philosophical and haunting fine art,” he said.

“Many of these students will follow in the footsteps of top artists who studied here, but they’re big footsteps to fill.”

The Degree Show is a highlight in the city’s cultural calendar, with 12 to 15,000 visitor expected to attend and generate in excess of £1.5million for the local economy.

The preview takes place from 6pm to 9pm tomorrow.

The show opens to the public on Saturday and runs until May 28. www.dundee.ac.uk

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