I stumbled upon the Norwich University College of Art Degree Show 2010. It was in my search for a previous incarnation of what is now the university’s gallery and where this graduate show was set.
The art world tends to go through an ever-continuous metamorphosis. Logically the smaller the art entity the more this is the case. This is also more prevalent and apparent (to those in the art world) in certain sectors of the arts than others. Mainly due to commercial market forces, which the arts seems to insist on remaining oblivious to, the field tends to get tossed around like a lone boat at sea in a tempest. Alas I digress, however this is a subject area that warrants further discussion and attention. Needless to say I ended up at the show while following the tracks of one demised gallery, which caused it incarnate into another.
Spread over various buildings on the banks of the River Wensum, on both sides of an idyllic looking and tranquil St Georges Street, it seemed that the show on one side of the street focused on the darkness of adulthood while the other side engaged in child’s play. Neither side, however, did less than the other on being challenging, self-deprecating or questioning, they both maintained the edge.
One of the leading advocates in the show for the dark burrows that the adult consciousness goes down was Fiona Davies. Davies’ Astrocytoma, seem to enthrall visitors. Physically this piece was unobtrusive, as an idea, concept or story it was challenging. As a story it was your story because it questioned you into giving it a story. Try as you may to avoid it you could not help but be drawn to it. Her imagination was the precursor of your imagination as you stood and observed or even engaged in (as opposed to engaged with) this piece.
I spoke to Davies, who told me that Astrocytoma was dedicated to her father who had recently passed away. Davies’ father was Richard Davies, a highly regarded Cromer (North Norfolk) retired lifeboat coxswain. Her story lies in the title of the piece, Astrocytoma. With this very intimate information I had to take another look at the piece and this added another layer of understanding on what I saw and perceived.
In the buildings on the other side of the street, which I would dub the Playhouse I was struck by the works of Jade Gordon and Maxine Turner.
Jade Gordon produced a mural in the fashion of comic strips/modern cartoons. Using animals as subjects she was telling the story of another world. Effectively you were looking at all the familiar trappings of your own world, a mirror of western values or modern civilization yet it was somewhat alien and disconcerting. It looked like child’s play but there was a slight subversion about it.
Maxine Turner seemed to be inspired by the concepts of galaxies, the Milky Way or heavenly figures to produce a mobile entitled Boundless. It was painstakingly constructed to mimic a sphere. It was effective and took the art of using found objects one step further to the point where you did not find them objectionable but wanted to come closer and admire and investigate them. Boundless looked and came across metaphorical and beautiful.
Also worth mentioning, in the show although not necessarily under the umbrella of contemporary art was Scott Grummett’s photography. Grummetts images are ripe with drama, dynamism and expression. The palette in the mainly colour photography have been cleverly controlled in such a way that it is just one element in the mix that creates the successful images.
In the show, there was strongly contending art and the pieces were mostly well executed. The artists I spoke to seemed confident about the future, Outpost Norwich seems to be a popular destination for some I spoke to. So the word is look to the Outpost for signs of the next big thing rising on the horizon of the Norfolk coast.