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.


An exhibition of new work by Natasha Ferguson, Joe Harvey, Matt Bainbridge and Richard Krantz opens Friday 10 September 2014.

Look up the word Mouthfeel instead of guessing its meaning and you will realise it is a noun used to explain the tangible concept of taste, as it is experienced in the mouth. Used as a simile for the title of Embassy’s 2014 graduate exhibition, the word introduces experiential qualities of potential artworks by artists carefully chosen by the gallery. In turn these artworks are then carefully curated for the viewer’s equally careful chewing-up of what’s on display. The word is also a playful introduction to new and fresh work by artists who are yet to discover any definitive recipe for what they do (assuming they want to make this discovery in the first place).

After selecting from Scottish degree shows earlier this year Embassy have provided an artists’ fee and production budget to commission new work for the show by graduates from Edinburgh College of Art and Glasgow School of Art. “We were interested in artists who we thought had the potential to come together to produce a well curated exhibition,” explains Embassy Committee member Kirsty Hendry, “As graduates we also wanted to provide them with an opportunity to engage professionally with an artist-led gallery, and get paid for the work they produce.”

Degree shows are fuelled by the time-heavy investment of producing work. Some students undergo a self-editing approach to what they choose to exhibit. Its this work that is often more rewarding for the viewer, where a student demonstrates well-executed production balanced with a rigorous evaluation of what is shown. As a graduate exhibition Mouthfeel extracts this and takes it a step further. The artists were notified two months after their degree show and were given a relatively quick deadline to make new work. It is a complete reset of their degree show experience with no accepted proposals to work with, just the means to create something under a new set of demands.

“It was tricky approaching the opportunity without a studio,” explains Glasgow School of Art graduate Matt Bainbridge who has created a new series of large paintings for the exhibition, “Even the lack of room to stretch canvases was challenging.”

Bainbridge, along with Richard Krantz, exhibited a showcase version of his degree show work in the McLellan Galleries in Glasgow after the event of the Mackintosh fire: “I have brought along elements of the original installation I planned to exhibit in the Mackintosh building,” he continues, “I’m not sure what I will do with it yet, but I feel this exhibition is a bit of second chance to realise the work properly.”

The show is also an opportunity for the artists to experience how an artist-led gallery ticks – arguably something that every art graduate should be accustomed to: “I feel it’s an honour to be selected for a show like this more than some other graduate opportunities,” explains Edinburgh College of Art graduate Joe Harvey, who has created a new digital animation for the show, “To work alongside the committee here at Embassy feels more relevant for where we are now as artists.”

Unfortunately Natasha Ferguson, another Edinburgh College of Art graduate who is to exhibit in Mouthfeel, was not present when we visited Embassy to interview the artists – so we couldn’t catch up with her directly. For more information on each artists’ practice, see links to their websites below:


Mouthfeel runs from 13-28 September 2014 and Embassy is open Thursday to Sunday 12-6pm. More information here – https://www.facebook.com/events/315989111906224


Glasgow School of Art’s Graduate Degree Show 2014 – a showcase of all the intensive one year MA pathways at the school – opens this weekend and runs from 6-12 September. Now in its third year the Fine Art Practice (MLitt) pathway or ‘Masters of Letters’ hangs its own exhibition in the McLellan Galleries down the road from the Mackintosh building in Glasgow.

“We normally use the Mackintosh for the show,” explains John Calcutt, programme leader of MLitt, “For obvious reasons the fire has prevented us from using the space. It has been a bit last minute but we have secured the McLellan Galleries instead – its important for the students to have an environment to hang a show of their work properly.”

The McLellan Galleries were used to showcase the BA degree show at Glasgow School of Art earlier in 2014, and were also used to house a selection of GI 2014 exhibitions. With a huge amount of focus on the BA and MFA degree shows earlier in the summer, which some would argue is validated by audience figures attending the exhibitions, the Graduate Degree Show later in the year presents itself to a somewhat different audience.

“The Graduate Degree Show will have a lot of visitors comprising new students entering a number of different courses for the 2014/15 term. It’s a different type of audience than that of our degree shows earlier in the year.” continues Calcutt, “The Fine Art Practice (MLitt) course takes on students who are at a stage in their careers where they need a new direction. It is also an intensive period for practitioners to revivify their approach to making work.”

The MLitt course also throws attention to students’ ability to extend their practices beyond the course, as Calcutt explains, “Many students present exhibitions and events out with the course structure. This is something we expect and encourage as a means of developing an art practice.”

Many other MA courses bring together students who have experience in other careers prior to undertaking further study, the MLitt Fine Art Practice course is no exception. We contacted three Fine Art Practice students graduating this year – Jennifer Wicks, Dico Kruijsse and Liam Allan – see the images within this post for more information on their work.

You can find out more about this year’s graduates – including activities extending beyond the course – on their dedicated ‘Masters of Letters’ website – http://www.mastersofletters1314.com

For more information on the Graduate Degree Show, which includes work from architecture, design, fine art and digital disciplines, follow this link – http://www.gsa.ac.uk/life/gsa-events/events/g/graduate-degree-show-2014


The City & Guilds MA degree show takes place from 10-14 September 2014. We catch up with two part-time students on the course, for a unique perspective on post-graduate study grounded by other career paths, attitudes and experience.

Lorraine Fossi notified us via Twitter about the City & Guilds show. She trained as an architect at Beaux Arts in Paris in the 80s before moving to London with her family. She is about to begin her second year of part-time study on the City & Guilds course and will continue to strengthen a painting practice, which focuses on landscape and environment on a project to project basis.

“When I left the Beaux Arts I was working with small groups of architects, responding to competitions with sharp deadlines. It was about drawing and sketch models, sharing big ideas with little money. I arrived in London with my family in 2000 and computers had already invaded architectural practice. My English was poor and I somehow knew I would not get the same freedom and reward I had enjoyed with architecture back in France. Architecture never really left me and never will. This permanence of my grounding training as an architect is a matter I wish to research during my second year.”

Already exhibiting her paintings in London upon entering the MA programme at City & Guilds, Fossi approached the course with the fear of her art practice becoming unrewarding: “I entered the MA at City & Guilds because I knew I could make better work as a painter. I was confident as a trained architect but as an untrained artist I was defensive and afraid. So far it has been an amazing experience… amazing but not easy!”.

Fossi kindly put us in touch with Luke M. Walker who has also studied the MA part-time, is set to graduate this year and is exhibiting in the MA show.

“I studied the MA part-time as I also work for myself as an Interior and Spatial designer, and teach at Chelsea College of Art.” explains Walker, “The work I have produced for the MA show is invested in the material exploration of paint on canvas. This exploration is informed by an archive of photographic material collected on a circular walk around an area of London, which I have repeated (almost) weekly since last autumn. During this time I have seen many things change in this particular environment. Demolished buildings replaced by new constructions for example, which relate to negative and positive space on canvas.”

Walker embarked upon the MA course to gain a new set of tools, technical and theoretical, to apply to his practice: “It started off as a hobby, I then got a studio and started to show my work – but it got to the point where I could no longer articulate what I wanted to.”

Walker will exhibit his body of work alongside seventeen other graduates in the MA show. For more information see the City & Guilds website –  http://www.mashow2014.com

For more information on Lorraine Fossi’s work see – www.lorrainefossi.netFor more information on Luke M Walker’s work see – http://lukescape.com