Memory and reflection underpins The Graduate Art Show 2022

Review by Penelope Andrews.

I always love a graduate show. The private view last week for the latest exhibition hosted by David and Nic Christie at the Vanner Gallery was as tasty and colourful as Lily O’Brien’s Desserts Collection.
Elena Campbell’s untitled acrylic on canvas is a fine front piece in the first room which can be viewed from the road. Swirls of flat ice-cream colour entice you off the pavement, but once inside all is a wonderful smorgasbord of extreme variance of texture, material and colour, stylishly presented against the pure white walls and original features of the 18th century gallery space.
Guest curator Dina Bulivina worked with David on the show in Salisbury. Dina has worked as exhibition coordinator at Ekart Bureau Gallery and on many international projects. When David visited The Graduate Art Show during Frieze London in October 2022 he knew he had to bring this down to his gallery.
Victoria Charlton and Dr Anand Saggar have showcased the work of young artists for many years and now launched The Graduate Art Show in 2022 to continue this work presenting graduate pieces from universities and colleges across the UK. It is a selection of 24 of these works that were hosted in the Vanner Gallery.
I wish I could understand William Brooks’ statement about his piece, Radio Artefacts. I kept re-reading, loving the mix of art and science, but had to admit defeat. Luckily, that didn’t stop this mixing of data and art being a texturally exquisite treat.

Looking at the work is the visual equivalent of placing a square of neatly cut fudge in your mouth and feeling the granular cuboid dissolve. The charcoaled, flat, grainy zinc plates have razor-sharp edges; you can almost hear the noise of the metal slotting into the rectangles precisely cut from the board for them.
The piece is proportionally excellent, the instinct of sizing is excellent here. The zinc has the properties of lead pencil, and shimmers as I move. In terms of the imagery etched on the surfaces, I can’t stop myself seeking a vista. I see a view of hills and church steeples, Italian Cypress, cityscapes. That these images are the result of radio transmission is apt. The etched areas give a visual sense of white noise.
Terracotta and porcelain have been combined by Anda Albu in an ingenious mix suggesting the texture of felted wool with its cut edge precision and rough surface. The rolled shapes look deceptively fragile, as if they will sloop to the floor at any moment. They are incredibly satisfying objects, moreish and desirable.
But now I am lost beneath the surface of Greg Howard’s Untitled. Oil on Canvas is giving nothing away and is a massive understatement when you look into the work. The colour is exquisite. It is not red, not orange, not really rust. Blood-like, it is subtly reminiscent of Rothko and the solid block of colour pulls you towards itself.
The paint is not ‘perfectly’ applied to the edge, but reveals a glimpse of the white weave of the canvas. This is a pleasing touch which gives interest. The pigment has been scratched on, folded on, or added in other ways with the echo of material memory. Something else was once here and has left its mark, but I have no clue what.
Jason Stirland has given us the ghost of a house with his exhibit, a memory recreated by LiDAR technology. No Running has found a beautiful medium to capture such a subject. LiDAR technology works in a similar way to radar, but uses the reflected light of a laser to plot the dimensions of an object and then recreates a 3D representation. The application is used in meteorology, significantly during the 1971 Apollo 15 mission to map the surface of the moon, and in surveying and map making.
Jason has captured one moment from the 3D imaging of a home he knows well as a piece of art. The detail created by the technology is fine and the colour and texture reminiscent of chalk pastels. He chooses black for the background which adds to the disconnected dreamlike state of the drawing, the odd white fleck giving a sense of the piece floating disjointedly among the stars.
This is an idea excellently delivered; the recreation of childhood spaces – what bliss! A dreamlike sketching of a house, here a painted wall, here brick, skirting boards, light effects, shadows, net curtains, flowers, detailed down to each individual leaf. I spent a long time in front of the work, drawn into the nooks and crannies of the building.
Intrusive Instances on File has a neat science experiment vibe in keeping with the subject matter. Oliver Murdock has placed plates of glass standing slightly slanted in slots in wood, each etched with words criss-crossing the flat plane, creating a misty haze of what on closer inspection reveals itself to be obsessive thoughts written out in a pretty, curly script. They are like the memories of different sentences, separated out as if to make sense of them.

The accompanying screen print of these texts layered in black and red hangs on the wall nearby, the black representing the words of one participant in a conversation, the red the other. It’s a thoughtful, well-executed graphic, teasing out a confused and feverish exchange into neat, cold expression.
By sectioning these thoughts out in glass, Oliver is attempting to show a more legible conversation to the viewer. When I speak to him about the work, he also talks of remembrance and of place.
These are just a few of the pieces that caught my attention, but there are many more to be explored if you care to take a stroll to the gallery situated next to the gate of the Cathedral grounds.
The show has left me contemplating the theme of remembrance. I find this curious, however. Who would have thought these young people would choose to be looking backward when it is so evident from the standard of this work that they have so much to look forward to.

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