Slade School of Fine Art

A playful and humorous quality was exerted straight away through the use of a tactile fold away catalogue, beautifully and tactilely designed, a sculptural object in its own right. Its creators, coordinators, design and production teams should be proud.

Giant Lego, yawn, not that sort of playful but rather the small scale Blue Peter do it yourself “here’s one that I made earlier” approach was far more successful in this show; in particular the works of Kala Newman and Francesca Anfossi, where a childlike sense of playing and making was evident. Interestingly both artists were involved in the production of the catalogue where similar nods towards childhood and play are evident through the origami style folded catalogue, which also doubles as a poster.

Video works should not be in degree shows. They rarely excite and are often so boring that the spectator walks out after two seconds. If the creator is so naïve to believe that the viewer will sit, or rather stand through a self absorbed study then they are wrong and slightly deluded. The audience rarely gives the big wigs in the galleries this pleasure let alone an unknown at a student shows where there are plenty of other artists vying for attention. That said the video of seagulls circling the electricity pylons has stuck in my mind, the name of the artist I’m afraid has not. Quite possibly because it does what it says on the box, there was no sign of obnoxious superiority set out by its creator, instead you could take it or leave it, and there was what appeared to be no beginning, middle or end, instead working with the collective memories of the viewer.

In the more successful rooms the work owned the space as opposed to the viewers’ eye inspecting the white walled studios. Larry Achiampong has a strong presence in the show, using the transitional spaces of the building with Evening Standard style display advertising with nods towards life after art school. ‘TIME TO GET A REAL J.O.B…’

Often small in scale, playfully created, fast paced works are how I would describe the Slade’s show. The artists here demonstrate confidence in their practices that the course had developed and instilled in them.

A great show, well worth a visit, even if just for a chance to get your hands on a catalogue.

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