It is the season for graduate fairs, and earlier this week I stumbled across the University of the Creative Arts Photography Graduate show at Candid arts. I had gone along to see the Candid Arts Summer Salon which turned out to be pretty poor. However there were signs pointing to the above mentioned show. Usually I have little interest in photography but this one be over and I ended up being impressed.
It is quite a small show, only 24 exhibitors in one room. They eyed me with some bafflement as I had managed to crash the private view. Several of them though have some serious talent. The first of which is Ethan Hughes with Tales of my Grandpa (above). It combines several good elements, excellent moody shots of the Welsh hills, mounted on slate that those hills produce. Underneath where headphones where you could listen to the self same Grandpa in lilting Welsh tones telling stories of his life. Nice idea, done well, the only two requirements for art.
Luke Wassell produced a series of 5 photographs called the Last of the Material Men (above). They seem to show these odd post-apocalyptic scene. I particularly like the one of the man in the gas mask discovering a wrecked jeep under a tree. Reminded me of Jurassic Park, only gloomy and menacing. I am sure it is not supposed to but the one with oranges spilling out of a trunk made me laugh. Very good.
There is a fashion these days for moody, foggy misty shots. Not that I mind this, indeed it greatly appeals to this. It is nice however to see someone depart from this and I must therefore give credit to the hyper colourful range of photographs by Abigail Edwards (above). She uses a combination of oil paints (approve) collage and photography to producing these striking dreamlike images. The blurb reveals that is in fact the intention, well then aim achieved.
Architectural or sculptural photography shots can suffer from being dull. It is a difficult thing to pull of by Sam Gasson (above) manages it. He has chosen colourful subjects which I think helps. The angles and perspectives are intriguing. Also the way they are displayed means, I think, that each one augments the other.
Best in show is without a doubt What I Remember About Forgetting by Paul Wicks (above). My definition of good art is a good idea done well. Great art has an extra element though, it reaches into your soul and wrenches at something. It is a rare thing and something Paul Wicks has managed to do.
In photographic forms he manages to convey the harrowing effects that encephalitis, a disease that damages the brain, has had on him. The main picture on the wall (above left) if powerful enough, but it is when you delve into the book (above right) that it all really hits home. He has to be given credit for what he has achieved and for leverage something so dramatic and horrible as this disease into something worthwhile. I expect to see great things from Paul, and would not be surprised if he became something of a star.
Photography can do something that few other media can do, and that is be stylish. Moodily lit shots of furniture and recording equipment by Ravaan Clifton (above). There is a sculptural element to this in the arranging of the subject matter. The gray background is a good choice, allows you to project your own story onto the scene.
The map shows the places in Rochester and environs that the photographs were taken. The final part was she left copies of the photographs on the street signs with her contact details, and there was a little booklet containing the emails of peoples grateful and surprised replies. This was very interesting, and if like any sensible person, you like ferreting in a card index, it will appeal to you.
Going back a moment to the original purpose of my visit the Candid Arts Summer Salon . It was not all bad, in fact it wasn't bad exactly so much as dull. There were a couple of people who were good, one of whom was Jon Britton who is in the Law Society Art Group with me and whose work I had primarily gone there to see. What struck me though is the high prices of the work. Almost everything was over £500 and several pieces were in the thousand. I do wonder if at that price, in this kind of show, if anyone will sell anything. It seems to me to not be aware of the market you are in. The quality doesn't merit the price in most cases.
The one exception was a quartet of charming illustrations by Sarah Harrison (above). In fact they are prints but at £80 they are perfectly pitched, it seems to me for an impulse purchase. I almost did.
Finally my exhibition was due to end yesterday but it has been extended until 6th July. It is at the Hoxton Cabin. Details below.
William John Mackenzie
I am an artist with a specialism in landscapes and still life. My contact details are here.