[Image: Ben Eggleton, ‘Immurement’, stainless steel metal welded sculptures with upholstered chairs, 2014 © The Artist]
22.08.14- 25.10.14 @ The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery
The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery inconspicuously lines the walls of the Parkinson Building and can be all too easily missed by those making the usual beeline to the Brotherton library next door. What is brilliant about it though this month, is the showcasing of the FUAM Graduate Art Prize finalists; four candidates’ work (i.e. the crème de la artistic crème) have been selected for display for further judging with a prize of £250 – specified as investment into their artistic careers and future projects, and a yearly subscription to Aesthetica magazine – the editor of which, Cherie Federico, acts as one of three judges also including Frances Guy Curator and Head of Collections at The Hepworth Wakefield and Dennis Hopper, Directory of Facilities Management at the University of Leeds.
As a student/art appreciator/arts writer, it is incredibly encouraging to see schemes set up such as this to not only showcase students’ work in a professional environment but also exemplify the incredible standards of undergraduate work. FUAM (Friends of University Arts and Music) were established to fund such exemplification, supporting the Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery’s ventures and promoting the work it contains.
The quality of the work displayed in the gallery is reassuringly good; the selection includes two Design students and two from Fine Art- these background subjects are rudimentary guidelines however, as the work even amongst disciplines is especially diverse. Júlia Moscardó i Chàfer uses traditional methods with oil paint on canvass, adorning the walls with a muted elegance. Her paintings explore the vacuous physical/temporal spaces in the domestic sphere, denoting a particularly Modernist philosophy in her exploration of isolated and individualised time-spaces (in a time of ‘accelerated rhythms’). As Moscardó i Chàfer explains herself, the time consuming and classical methods of oil painting reflect this pause.
Juli Moscardo i Chafer, ‘________’ Oil on Canvas, 2014 © The Artist.
This more formalised approach is juxtaposed by Lily Ackroyd Willoughby’s mixed mediums which spill from the walls and litter the room. Her focus is around the sense of material and materialism and the information/mis-information that they impart; the section of her display that embellishes the wall is a swirling non-sensical structure fashioned seamlessly from what appears to be one piece of wood. Of course, the lustrous dark-wood scribble is in fact artificial; the patterning of the wood grain upon close inspection utterly convincing. Other mediums Ackroyd- Willoughby plays round with include the ‘marble’ Nike Air Max- crystallising- or rather more, cementing the fetishism and capriciousness of fashion trends.
Lily Ackroyd-Willoughby, Detail from ‘Speedy Material’, 2014, Mixed Media Installation © The Artist.
Certainly the most imposing piece in the room is Ben Eggleton’s metallic comment on Dementia; his welded sculptures are glittery and gaping, representing the lost figures of care homes, slumped in armchairs. The physicality of the welding process enforces the sense of a ‘melting’ mind, distorting and encasing the individualism of the figures; their bodies becoming that which encages them. The sense of pathos in the grouping of Eggleton’s figures brings to mind Samuel Beckett’s Absurd play ‘Endgame’, where the notion of the family and identity are perverted beyond recognition, the play expressing the cyclical and cruel relentlessness of nature, decay and death themes which Eggleton’s work also express.
Chloe Aretha Burdett’s work, comprising of audio visual components reflect on the Heterotopia of bar work and nightlife, aiming to create an interactional environment based on our own experience of this otherly space. Burdett focuses on the senses to convey her message, the weird and wonderful tales of bar staff told through earphones with an almost uncanny familiarity. The CCTV video loop taken from the queue outside a club adds an additional layer to this experiential piece as the viewer feels removed from the experience with the slightly voyeuristic perspective, and yet, again there is an unmistakable notion of shared practice; most viewers will have at some point exemplified the behaviours of Burdett’s study.
Chloe Burdett, Still from ‘Untitled’, Video Installation, 2014. Image © The Artist
I am extremely curious of the variables and non-variables used in judgement across this kind of creative spectrum as the work in the gallery space is as diverse as it can be, in both medium and topic. Certainly what frames them all is the sensitive, skilful and thought provoking approaches to their chosen studies, no doubt making the judgment process a difficult one! They are definitely a pleasure to see to those without this burden and available to all until ‘artistic doomsday’ on the 25th of October. Good luck to all the graduates!
Visit the Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery website for more information and to cast your vote for the 2014 FUAM Graduate Art Prize winner – library.leeds.ac.uk
The Gallery is open Monday to Saturday 10am – 5pm. Admission is free.
Filed under: Art & Photography