With so many graduating students facing postponed or cancelled degree shows, and universities closed during the Covid-19 lockdown, it seems more important than ever to celebrate the energy and experimentation coming out of the UK’s art schools.
Featuring interviews, comment and advice from graduating students, lecturers and artists, the just published a-n Degree Shows Guide 2020 seeks to do just that.
Before lockdown, we set out to talk to final-year students across the UK, from Glasgow to Plymouth, Leeds to London. Eight a-n members from the 2019-20 a-n Writer Development Programme were commissioned to interview students, and in the guide you’ll find a series of eight short Q&As with students, including Degree Shows Guide cover artist Lydia Makin who discusses the development of her work during four years of study at Slade School of Fine Art in London.
Conducted in March, most of the interviews were done in-person at a time when universities were open and physical degree shows were still going ahead. That has now all changed – the students’ ideas and ambitions, however, remain just as relevant, vital and inspiring. You can read longer versions of these interviews on a-n’s dedicated Degree Shows Guide 2020 site www.a-n.co. uk/degree-shows.
Alongside these Q&As are highlighted works by other graduating artists. And, continuing a-n’s celebration of the Class of 2020, course leaders share their thoughts on the art their students are making at this most extraordinary time.
For new artists wishing to explore ideas around working collaboratively, the guide also features an inspiring introduction to artists’ collectives with Shy Bairns, Caraboo Projects and Centre for International Women Artists discussing their work.
And collaborative duo Jane and Louise Wilson offer their advice to graduating artists. “There isn’t just one model to follow,” says Louise Wilson. “Look at someone like Phyllida Barlow who didn’t really take off until her sixties. There’s no set methodology except go where the support is in order to keep going.”
While Jane Wilson adds: “Some people think there is a hierarchical structure, ie you graduate, you leave, you get a show. But it doesn’t always work like that. So long as you are pushing yourself and your ideas, then it might be OK to go sideways.”
As graduating students, lecturers and visual art professionals across the UK learn to adapt to this strange new landscape, the Wilson’s comments seem strangely pertinent. We hope this year’s guide captures some of the spirit and imagination of this year’s incredible graduating artists.
Look out for updates and coverage of degree shows as they open – both online and physically – on a-n.co.uk/degree-shows.
And follow a-n on Instagram where we’ll be posting more work by this year’s graduates.
a-n Degree Shows Guide 2020 is available on a-n.co.uk/degree-shows alongside more news, views and pictures from this year’s shows.
You can view on Issuu here or join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #andegrees20.
1. Lydia Makin, Paris Green (detail), 300x 250cm. BA Fine Art, Slade School of Fine Art, London.