Each year there is a huge focus on degree show season at the beginning of Summer. Many post-graduate courses have their degree shows at the same time as their undergraduate counterparts. But some don’t, so we thought a blog here would tie together what’s happening from Fine Art and practice-based courses that run September to September, or just so happen to put their graduate shows on later in the year. Another large part of the pocket of research is graduate exhibitions, artist-led galleries, curators and prize givers selecting and showing BA and MA students’ work.


The Exposure Award 2014 at Parasol Unit in London, offers the opportunity for selected graduates to show work professionally in a gallery and to present their work during a panel discussion. This year Chelsea College of Art (UAL) graduates Jon Baker, Sarah Roberts and Aaron Wells exhibit their work. On Thursday 23 October they will discuss their practices alongside David Beech, artist and Senior Lecturer in BA Fine Art at Chelsea.

In advance of the panel discussion, and before the Exposure exhibition finishes on 9 November, we caught up with Sarah Roberts to discuss her current practice and where she’s headed to next.

a-n Art Student: What do you expect to get from the panel discussion, is speaking to the public about your work something you have done before?

Sarah Roberts: Not publicly, but I do love to talk, and I’ve always enjoyed hearing other opinions on my work in crits and other shows. Who knows, Dave Beech, Aaron Wells and Jon Baker are such excellent company that I’m sure it will be enlightening whatever happens. I’ll just have to try and keep my sentences legible and out of poetic sensory senselessness!

AS: What is your work about?

SR: I am interested in our capacity for momentary encounters with the actuality of the world. Visual frontages of buildings and places are a primary point of interest. Once seen the surfaces of things are ripe to be peeled away and then poured or smoothed into something unexpected.

Seaside escapes; the theatricality of guidebooks; shop window displays or stage sets; the rhythmic peaches and creams of a 90s bedroom; the shifting unmapped quality of natural wonders – all offer viewpoints from within and onto the world. I capture these surfaces as a palette and use them as a point of departure into making and as material to make with.

The relationship between each component in my installations is directed by formal tension and agreement, and on variation and rhythm. Subjectivity, ‘thingness’, communication and representation are key areas of investigation and there is a repetition of process too that collects singular forms, giving them plurality.

AS: What makes you choose to use particular materials in your installations?

SR: Everything has to be solid and everything has to be itself! Vinyl walls are exposed as vinyl by rolls left upended and glass is left with its blue safety pads. The material is in charge and chooses its place, whereby one element tends to determine the positioning of another, like they’re in some form of reflexive chatter.

In my latest work plaster, metal and glass have been crucial in representing a language of architecture redefined in form and matter – the subject being Borth, a Mid-Wales hinterland of pastel-coloured beach bungalows and terraces. ‘AR LAN [beside]’ (The work at Parasol Unit), whilst full of reflective surfaces, is dominated by a steel framed window. And ‘ETO? O Borth- AGAIN? From Borth’, exhibited at Saatchi New Sensations 2014, featured a galvanised panel and frame as a temporary ‘beast’, which moved between spaces to fit its temporary location.

AS: How has the opportunity at Parasol unit allowed you to develop your practice?

SR: After the degree show at Chelsea my work exploded into this bigger thing, like the first utterance of a language of excess. A spectacle that was not so loud before but which now produces a mix of materiality and immediacy, as well as form and colour. Having the space at Parasol Unit during Exposure (and then new Sensations) allowed me to really push the palette and better understand the relationship the work has with its three sites – the site of provenance (Borth itself), of making (studio) and of installation (the gallery).

To show alongside Shinro Ohtake is also real treat, the potential of his materials feels so deliciously articulate! Parasol Unit’s director Dr Ziba Ardalan refers to visiting Shinro’s studio as a “Through the looking glass experience” and anticipated that his joyful practice would complement the Exposure Award exhibition. I am really grateful for the opportunity to show in this kind of context, to work with the gallery staff and of course with Jon Baker and Aaron Wells.

AS: What are you plans as an artist now, are you involved in any further projects?

SR: I just de-installed my work at the Saatchi New Sensations show, and before that the CCW Alumni show at Chelsea College of Art. Out of these shows I made some interesting connections with emerging artists that will hopefully bear fruit. I do feel lucky, during and after my studies at Chelsea I have met some excellent people and fantastic artists who I am still in touch with. It feels like when I’m ready some kind of reunion show will be in order!

As a result of these summer shows I am meeting with a blogger/photographer to discuss a brief dalliance with the world of set design for fashion styling. It will be interesting to see how it feels to straddle that area for a while, to mix sculpture with couture. I am involved in a publication entitled ‘Some Names’ that is being curated by Chelsea graduate Joe Osbourne. Also, alongside three other UAL graduates, I have been awarded  the Artquest Lifeboat residency; a year-long programme of career support in association with Artstemps and ACAVA studios.


The panel discussion runs from 7pm Thursday 23 October and is a free event but booking is required. See Parasol Unit’s website for more details parasol-unit.org/exposure-14-award-panel-discussion

To see more of Sarah’s work visit her website www.sarahrobertsfineart.co.uk. For more information on Aaron Wells’s see www.aaronwells.co.uk and on Jon Baker, www.aaronwells.co.uk.

All images courtesy of the artist and Jenna Foxton.


Private View Wednesday 8 October 2014, 6 – 8pm
Exhibition runs 9 October 2014 – 28 January 2015

Eighteen 2014 graduates from University of Middlesex and Goldsmiths have been selected by curatorial partnership Day+Gluckman (Lucy Day and Eliza Gluckman) to show work at Collyer Bristow Gallery housed at the London-based law firm Collyer Bristow. Curators at the gallery since 2008, Day+Gluckman chose artists they felt would resonate in the unique spaces available and were reflective of the best of contemporary visual arts practice at the two colleges.

On the opening night one artist will be selected by Emma Dexter, Director of Visual Arts at the British Council, to receive an award of £2,000 presented by Collyer Bristow.

On his project English Disco Lovers (EDL), Middlesex University graduate Chris Alton said: “The piece blends socio-political phenomenon with real life activism. Showing the project as part of the Collyer Bristow graduate exhibition is an exciting opportunity – it takes the work back to its art-fuelled roots.”

Whilst being able to gyrate with the EDL, visitors will see other diverse work including dramatic cardboard installations, lens-based interventions, exuberant nymphs, as well as other unique works in painting and photography.

The full list of artists: Chris Alton, Halgurd Baram, Steph Choy, Marcin Filip Cybulski, Sophia Freeman, Veronica de Giovanelli, Ekaterina Golubina, Trasi Henen, Kerri Jefferis, Yunsun Jung, India Mackie, Lucy Parnell, Laura Porter, Rebecca Powell, Alan Stanners, Kyungmin Son, Anya Thomas, Jany E Thomas.

For more information see


09 October – 08 November 2014

The inaugural exhibition of Leeds College of Arts’ first graduates from MA Creative Practices. Four students exhibit work “exploring the intersection between researched contextualisation, personal practice and current events” at Leeds Gallery, Monroe House.

After a year of intensive post-graduate study artists Emma Dexter, Andres Jaroslavsky, Patrick Kirk-Smith and Janey Walklin show new works displaying “a cross section of interdisciplinary art united through creative practice” in sculpture, painting, performance and print-making.

For more information including artist statements see the Leeds College of Art website. Thanks to Leeds College of Art, Leeds Gallery Monroe House and all artists involved for their quick response on Twitter!


Making the Future – Private View 24 September 5-8pm, exhibition runs to 2 October.

This year’s MA exhibitions from the department of Art and Design at Nottingham Trent University (NTU) are part of a year long celebration of 170 years of art and design research and study at the university. An exposition entitled ‘Making the Future’ is currently on show at the Bonington Gallery at the NTU campus.

Along with other artists on show is the work of MA Fine Art graduate Murray Royston-Ward. With a background as an experimental musician and DIY sound recorder, Ward creates projects using open technologies such as Raspberry Pi along with community groups, to realise sound installations, workshops and performances. We caught up with him before the private view (placed in the middle of the show’s running time) of the MA show:

a-n Art Students: How did you get in to using Raspberry Pi?

Murray Royston-Ward: I’ve spent quite a few years involved with improvised, experimental music as part of what is sometimes referred to as ‘the no audience underground’. I got into making contact mics, DIY recordings and eventually making small synths and guitar pedals. This all crosses over with the work of hacker communities, where such approaches to materials and creativity explore a set of values away from the mainstream that is frequently political. These crossovers have naturally led to engaging with Raspberry Pi and Arduino. I can’t say I’ve used them too extensively yet though, they’re just another tool in the process of what Christopher Small (New Zealand musician and educator 1927-2011) called ‘musicking’. They are however cheap and open which is something I value.

AS: Tell us something about the research and projects you have developed during your MA at NTU?

MRW: In December 2013 I ran a workshop in Kampala, Uganda where we made contact mics and then went out to record the local environment (we were in the Katwe slums) before creating a sound collage with open source audio tools. I ran another workshop in Banepa, Nepal in March 2014. The original plan was to make ‘reverse’ contact mics which act like ‘vibration’ speakers. Based upon the work of composer and electronic musician Nicolas Collins, with ‘vibration’ speakers you can turn things like objects or windows into speakers. I also modified the project into a ‘tactile’ sound workshop in a deaf school, exploring different vibrations generated by sound sources. I have some hand made books which document and reflect upon these experiences. They also provide information towards making your own versions of the technology – a kind of instruction manual.

In March 2014 I wrote a score for Nottingham Contemporary’s ‘The Memory Project’ which led to several large scale drawings. They fit somewhere between visual scores and process maps influenced by the circuit diagrams and manuals of Forrest Mims (amateur scientist and author of Getting Started in Electronics) and the diagrammatic scores of David Tudor (American pianist and composer of experimental music 1926-1996).

Another score and installation I developed drew upon the alternative tuning systems of La Monte Young (artist and minimalist composer) and the musical legacy of Sunny Murray (pioneer of Free Jazz drumming). The environment directly implicated the listener’s physical presence, with tones shifting in relation to one’s movements and position. Harmonic frequencies and percussive accents were chosen to create the possibility of ecstatic response, directly channeling the emotional powers activated through Free Jazz and Fluxus era composition.

AS: Have you presented any of this sound work live?

MRW: Yes, I ran a workshop that focussed on making our own audio tools to realise a performance of David Tudor’s 1973 composition ‘Rainforest IV’. I had previously developed a more powerful version of the ‘vibration’ speaker (mentioned above). It was important to me that we built these ourselves so that the process of making audio technology was an equal part of the ‘musicking’ process. I should mention Kelly Jayne Jones, Ian Philip Watson and Benjamin Hallatt here as they were far more than participants in this project, and I couldn’t have done it without them. For Making the Future I have presented the ‘score’ and video footage of our performance.

AS: What are your plans after finishing your MA?

MRW: I’ve just finished audio and artwork for a one off dubplate record that has been commissioned for Mat Jenner’s ‘Foam’ project – An interactive and immersive sound installation with unique, one off 12” vinyl records commissioned from 100 contemporary visual artists. This will visit ‘The Attic’ at One Thoresby Street, Nottingham, in October 2014 before continuing its tour. I’m quite excited about this as I’m pushing against the edges of what is reproducible on vinyl and the risk of failure is a significant part of my work.

I’m also developing the workshops that I ran in Uganda and Nepal further and have a few other things in the pipeline but too early to say any more than that.

For more information on the Making the Future exhibition see The Bonington Gallery’s website – boningtongallery.co.uk/current-exhibitions

To attend the Private View on Wednesday 22 September RSVP to [email protected]

For more information on Murray Royston-Ward’s work see his website – murraysroystonward.tumblr.com

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Opens Tuesday 16 September, runs until 22 September 2014

The school of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds hosts this year’s crop of MA and MFA Fine Art graduates, for their show entitled Contingent. It’s a small crop, but a crop non-the-less and this has its advantages.

Comprised of four MA students completing a 12-month intensive course and one part time (four year) MFA student, the show takes over the Lifton Place studios – a series of terraced buildings on the north of the University’s city campus perfect for exhibition purposes.

“We each get the chance to have our own mini solo show” explains Melissa Burn, one of this year’s graduates from the MA course, “Because there are fewer of us we get to spread out more, I’m knackered and want to sleep for a week afterwards, but it will all be worth it in the end. Degree shows can be limited when it comes to letting a body of art work do its thing, but we have an opportunity to install the work how we want to, to let it speak for itself.”

A graduate of Middlesex University Burn is originally from Leeds and decided to move back to her home city for post-graduate study. Two other students from the show are also from Northern England, Nathan Chenery who studied his BA at York St John University and Liam McCabe, who studied previously at Leeds College of Art. The other two are international students, South Korean Sanghee Lee who studied at Konkuk University in Seoul and Sara Mata from Portugal who completed her BA at University of Porto.

“I plan to stay in Leeds after graduating and I already have a studio to move in to” continues Burn, “a new studio complex and artist-led gallery near The Tetley in the south of the city called Set The Controls for the Heart of the Sun. My lease there has already started – there’s still some paint to add to the walls but I should be able to move straight in after the MA show. It’s the only thing I have lined up but it means I can carry on with my practice as I see fit.”

Its good to begin answering some overriding questions here, what do you do straight after your MA, sleep for a week? Move straight on with your practice? Look for opportunities to show the work you’ve put so much energy in to in other places? Stick with your peer group and make opportunities as a collective force? Some postgraduate courses are focused on embedding the students with the city for them to stay and contribute afterwards. But this this is not always the drive for completing an MA or MFA and Contingent implies a situation that is subject to change. Burn continues, “I should imagine that Sara will move back to Portugal and Sanghee back to South Korea, so the group will be split geographically. But the rest of us have roots close enough together for us to maintain workable connections.”

All five graduates also exhibited as a group at FAIR, as part of Edinburgh College of Art’s Masters Festival earlier this year. We covered this on a-n Art News: FAIR: “An opportunity for students to rethink an art fair’s basic structure”.

For more information on each of the artists in the exhibition see captions embedded with images in the following image gallery.