University College Falmouth

Contexture is the degree showing of work by the final graduating cohorts of the awards BA (Hons) Fine Art: Contemporary Practices and BA (Hons) Writing at University College Falmouth. The work in Contexture is distributed between two waterside buildings that show much of their history as working spaces in a fish wharf / boatyard. There is a difference in tone in the chief sense of the two spaces, though they relate to each other and manage to give a sense of being one compound installation of a range of work. The Fish Factory space is brighter and a bit cleaner; the Boat Shed is darker and a bit dustier. About 10 artists showed work in each space.

The works in the Boat Shed are presented as a large installation with elements by individual artists overlapping and forming part of the context of seeing other works. One outcome of this mode of showing is a sense of a group of artists working together, operating with less anxiety about individual product and more an awareness of working alongside other practitioners, working not in isolation but in conversation. Hanging at the centre of the large open warehouse space was a large ceramic bell containing a speaker broadcasting sound collected in the other showing space and modified, manipulated and amplified. This piece by Richard Cullen acted as a soundtrack or backdrop to other work. It also operated in parallel with sounds from the adjacent workshops. Insistent but without clear content, busy and drifting at the same time, the work was there, switched on like the light bulbs at the input end, but not stating anything beyond that.

In the Boat Shed, Paul White continued to work on his performance / installation ‘I Love You Honey’, taking small cups of seawater from a hole in the floor and using it to apply temporary tattoo butterfly transfers to the crumbly brick, one thread of the filaments he was weaving. Butterfly grain comes through rough brick transfers wet lit dust cup. Placed oddly within the space three small monitors showed footage by Alice Eagle, the monitors repeat and reduce the space they occupy, with nothing happening for some time, and then a figure briefly appears and exits. Lonely monitor echoes the propped canvas it sits beside, olive green tongue and groove; a figure crawls out backwards and quickly walks away. Rebecca Ballard presented a number of works including quiet video footage of imagined film sets, a collage of film clips that showed the Hollywood sign, and a diorama model of the Hollywood hills. Individually each piece was satisfying, and in combination they built up to a complex exploration of iconicity, of the word as image, of the fabrication of dreams. Through the dark curtained corridor to see the Hollywood sign, the papier-mâché hills, the spotlight sun. Karl Arbuthnot’s looping jumble of frenzied all-in wrestling punctuated by high-pitch pelargoniums, glitter and jolted projection re-scattered the frizz of media representations of bodies, of violence, of gesture. An ill-fitting neon filter lens on another’s Youtube playlist. While nearby Rachel Page’s ironic self-portrait video quietly watched us as we negotiated the space, and then laughed.

In The Fish Factory a quieter selection of works included Mark Ferbrache’s exploration explosion extension of ‘transemblage’, a hybrid of assemblage and translation, spread across a corner in deteriorated print repeats and lecture projection (with a fading Derrida cameo). Holly Foskett-Barnes’ installation and performance remains evidenced the labour of counting 100,000 grains of white and black rice. Rice leaves the hand, the tanks stand still, the grains sit still. Emiko Tokai included a discreet projected slideshow of images accumulated under the search term ‘light and shadow’. Shown at almost floor level, and not much bigger than a laptop screen, they quietly looped through responses to contrast fleeting moments and incidents of perception. Andrius Savickas left pot of glue and a box of rolled up posters, offering them to visitors to paste up wherever they might, advertising a fictional development agency peeling open intersections between art business, urban gentrification and internet gullibility.

The variety of work across performance, moving image, and textual practice shows a cohort of artists who are aware of current practices in art, and are prepared to take on aspects of these, to engage with them on their terms, and to collaborate to show work in a sophisticated way. The use of the exhibition spaces was exciting and gave a sense of a well-managed group show more than a series of separate student presentations. For a visitor this made for an exciting and engaging experience, and indicates professionalism on the part of these practitioners.