Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Dundee's Brightest

Dundee’s Brightest 20/05/2012  

It's been a few years since I've made it to the opening night of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee, so I was pretty excited to have the opportunity to go this year. Accompanied by my trusty accomplice from my own student days at art school in Dundee we set off up the Perth Road to the art school, a well trodden path. A few steps in the door and we were met with a large yellow neon sign which read 'ART NOW' and the smell of popcorn.  

 Armed with my newly purchased brochure for the 2012 show whereby students are referred to as Dundee’s Brightest. Each page features a student, their statement and an image of their work. I'm thinking that things have gotten pretty slick since my day and I’m impressed. First stop is jewellery of course. There are 18 students this year so there was a lot to see. 'Wow' is my first impression as I wander around. We are stopping a lot and saying 'ooh' and 'aw, look at that', it all looks so professional! 

I am struck by how polished (not literally) it all looks and how ready they all look to take on the world with their neat business cards and look books. It's pretty packed, so I'm guessing I'm not alone in thinking how good it all looks. Each individuals work is supported by an artist’s statement and a mac rotating images. There's a real broad mix of themes here. From Palestinian refugees, skin conditions, literature and the tooth fairy. So I’m only going to mention a few. Jennifer Ho's beautiful intricate jewellery is presented against a backdrop of equally beautiful drawings which narrate the story of her work based on family, culture and memories.
Jennifer Ho

  A quick chat with Natali Mazur and she explains that her series of cleverly designed bracelets are made from prescription drugs and silver, which she says is a response to todays view of the preciousness of materials and the misuse of prescription medication in today’s society. 

Natali Mazur
   Karen Smith's work which she describes as 'wearable optical toys', are both skilfully made and stunning.  

 From here I managed a quick look at textiles which was also very impressive. A great feature throughout some of the departments was separate portfolio rooms. This helped create a clean gallery style without the clutter of the portfolios.
 My only disappointment was that I managed to miss the singing Elvis reported to be belting out some tunes on a golden toilet. I could have stayed longer, however the steward/security teams were super efficient at getting everyone out by 9pm on the dot. They made up for it by seeing everyone off the premises with a Taiko drumming session by The Dojo Performance Team. Well worth a visit.  

 On from 19th - 27th May 2012 at DJCAD, University of Dundee, 13 Perth Road, Dundee, DD1 4HT. 

 Aubin Stewart is our first guest blogger and Exhibitions Coordinator for NEOS 2012

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

A Jaunt to North Fife...

NEOS 2012: 15th - 23rd September
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A Jaunt to Fife.....

Well, a weekend in Falkirk presented an opportunity for a flying visit to Open Studios North Fife.  This is OSNF's seventh year with an ever growing audience and artist membership.  84 artists opened their doors to living rooms and studios to show their work, working practices and offer a staggering amount of tea and cakes over the May weekend.

I only just realised that my friends Gavin Burnett and Nicola Cairns were having the grand opening of MAKE Studios at Gateside Mills in Fife, where they have worked incredibly hard to bring together a hot and cold glass workshop, ceramics workshop and gallery space as well as space for other artists to work, the result is spectacular and would be one of the highlights of the OSNF's weekend.

First surprise was seeing Richard Gregory who is one half of Rebott with Nicola Cairns.  Richard introduced us to the Rebox project where they are converting an old horsebox into a mobile gallery and hotshop for working glass.  Everything in the bos is from recycled materials - even down to the screws which were painstakingly salvaged by Richard himself!

Inside the studio, there were glass demos, tours and their resident graffiti artist was just finishing the Make mural.

After spending far too much money we decided to take a wee look at the entrants in Auchtermuchty, which we were happy to find out was the birthplace of Sir Jimmy Shand, this gave me the opportunity to tell my Grandads favourite joke....
First stop was Audrey Reid, a recent jewellery graduate from Duncan of Jordanstone.  We walked into her beautiful cottage in the centre of Auchtermuchty to find absolutely lovely jewellery, in fact it was so good we visited twice.
Next was Bun Brough a textile artst who works primarily as an art therapist.  The studio was above a car mechanic but the space was transformed by a partially built Yurt and many pieces made by her clients and  during workshops she delivers.

Steve and Marie Louise Wrightson opened their sunny back yard with summerhouses ful of whimsical and colourful work.  Both had a huge amount of detail in their work.
As we were leaving Auchtermuchty we came across a wee sign for a blacksmiths forge and stumbled over a chap who built his own forge and makes ironmongery in his spare time - it was great to see and have a poke about the tools!

Just outside Auchtermuchty we stopped at Moyra Stewart's ceramic workshop who was also showing with John Smith, woodturner.  Moyra has been incredibly influenced by a process called 'naked Raku' (dont worry, you get to keep your clothes on) after attending a course run by renowned ceramicist Dave Roberts.  Moyra was kind enough to don her protective equipment shortly before the raku kiln reached temperature!

Beautiful Falkland was our next stop where we visited two more ceramicists - Joan Potts and the tremendous renaissance-y work of Karen Ross.

Neither Karen or Joan have websites and do not work full time in ceramics but they both took the leap into the unknown of Open Studios and opened their homes to complete strangers.  This is the joy of open studios, not knowing and seeing people genuinely interested in your work and workshops.

After a walk around Falkland, it was time to go back and hardly a dent made in the 84 entries (with a strong emphasis on visiting ceramics too!)

However, some artists are open next weekend and I cannot recommend the area enough.  Its rather a novelty to be able to VISIT Open Studios for a change!

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