Introducing: LJMU Fine Artists

LJMU’s Fine Art Degree Show was an unmissable opportunity to speak to the ones to watch, says Kayleigh Davies…

This year’s degree show at the LJMU Art and Design Academy showcases an artistic variety of form, purpose and technique. Video pieces and traditional painting sit alongside site specific works, all cleverly adapted to fit within the context of the gallery walls.

The works, each different and varying in style and intimacy, are insights into the attitude and ambition of the students; a key aspect of the entire show, colouring the rooms with excitement. We took the opportunity to speak with some of our favourites:

Artist, Eliza-Lee Farrington, says she “tried to have a sort of soft quality, a feel to the video. Its emotion, lots of bright colours” exposing the Greek statue of Venus de Milo onto a multi-coloured bright marble background. Asked why the contrast, she replied, “I’ve had a bit of an obsession this year, looking at the female form. My friend Rosie, in this video, I thought would be great to use because she’s a great mover. It’s just looking at the reaction she has when she’s listening to music. The statue is … with the colours and the background, trying to represent an emotion which is the same as the video.”

Showcasing the relationship between music and listener, Eliza intelligently expresses liberation, providing the viewer a chance to create their own context. Many of the artists shown similarly allow the viewer to position themselves in a personal dilemma, debating questions that could unearth a memory or, perhaps, regret.

Tracey Escolme examines the difficulty many people face during their first years paving their own way: “towards the end of my degree, I’m confused as to where I want to be, whether I want to stay in the city or go back into a countryside setting,” she continues, “my work has been about location, direction and where next.” Through intricate overlapping images of the city and countryside, Tracey almost answers her own questions subconsciously, as light shines through a beautifully intrinsic engraving of a countryside scene near her home of Cumbria. Interestingly, displayed hidden within the gallery wall, is a small vintage compass; bound up with personal nostalgia, the sentimental keepsake hints at a larger force, regarding the choices we make as predetermined by fate.

Liam Peacock explores nostalgia and sentiment similarly, as he suggests he is “kind of interested about how people are linked to place and vice versa; objects as well, and the way that people associate a single place with objects”. Mainly site-specific, Liam’s work is based in historic sites.

Also central to many of the pieces here is a kind of catharsis. Tiarnan Loughran uses his work to grapple with adversity (in the form of alcoholism and bipolar), confronting difficult issues through his creative ventures. Tiarnan explains, “I’ve always had an interest in it [mental illness] and so I want to go on and do art therapy in a couple of years.” Art has a commendable history for helping people express difficult emotions through creativity – in the recent backdrop of the issues brought to attention through Rankin’s ALIVE: In The Face of Death at the Walker and Blackout at the Exhibition Research Centre, Tiarnan’s stories fit snugly within Liverpool’s current artistic climate.

Another student, Theo Vass (main), shines in a professional sense, admitting to foreseeing his work in a gallery context during the creative process: “I kind of skip to the end and think about how the work will be seen in a space, any decisions the audience will make… Mainly what inspires my work is kind of being, the physical factors of actually being in the space and how you can interpret it. So it’s quite literal in the sense that, it’s purely physical things which surround me.”

Joseph Hulme says his work is “mostly about a development of ideas and how they come about, and a lot of my work is the failure of ideas and how easy it is to let an idea fail or let an idea succeed and then push it further and further. The majority of my 2D based work, is like a collection of my unresolved projects, ideas that never really came to fruition, sort of seized before they began in a way”. An important lesson learnt for both artistic practice and in life, reminding us of what any degree represents outside of the academic sphere: experience and development both professionally and personally. Hopefully, at least.

Each student we spoke to at the degree show cited the support of their tutors, mentioned how the course had developed their confidence and abilities and foresaw an exciting future in the arts linked to Liverpool as part of the next stage of their journey. Of course, this step will be taken outside of that supportive bubble, without a familiar hand to provide guidance.

It is an exciting moment as well as a terrifying prospect, a chance to embrace life’s challenges and opportunities as they dream, plan and achieve in the real world. Belying the student stereotypes, the determination, hard work and abilities exhibited here suggests much promise in a field that demands excellence.

Kayleigh Davies

Posted on 30/05/2013 by thedoublenegative