Degree Shows 2005

By The Drum, Administrator

July 28, 2005 | 9 min read

Edinburgh college os Art

Edinburgh College of Art

We love degree shows. That right combination of nostalgia and the anticipation of discovering brilliant new talent. We set off for the Edinburgh College of Art degree show hoping that this year’s graduates would display creativity that was as fresh as their faces...

After negotiating our way through the labyrinthine building, we arrived at the visual communication nerve centre. We were drawn instantly to an inspiring showcase of the graphic design students’ digital and animated work projected up high on a large screen. A very entertaining way to whet your appetite for more, and it certainly held a captive audience.

Dragging ourselves away, we made a beeline for the main graphic design room, always eager to discover new talent to welcome into the Hookson family. And also to see what kind of competition us old hands are up against. Overall, we were struck by the ideas-based nature of the work, which had a strong leaning towards the conceptual. A lot of students made great use of what little space they were given, with each area crammed full like giant sketchbooks. An interesting way to showcase the students’ thought processes to the full rather just displaying a few finished items of work.

There were three students in total that stood out, particularly Ed Wright. His strong conceptual thinking and execution for his Guardian adverts were of real interest. As was his piece for the ECA fashion show, mature and stylish with that winning combination of a good concept teamed with excellent finishing. We also enjoyed Sarah Graham’s twist on the humble Royal Mail stamp, a fun and interactive approach with stickers and quotes to keep you amused for an age. Kerry Harbinson’s typographical approach for the D&AD brief also raised a smile, as did her lucky blue jacket.

Our next stop was illustration – again space was at a premium but used well. We were immediately taken by Natalie Braun’s imaginative and highly stylised, ‘Land of Visions’. Alexa Cameron’s striking illustrative style certainly left an impression, her free and confident line drawings of the mundane made beautiful and original. I’m sure there’s a commission out there just begging for the opportunity, as her style is fresh and of the moment.

The photography show was split between the gallery space around the central area and a room opposite. We really enjoyed looking through Heather Hughes’s ‘Bath Time’ portrait series, a look at the lighter side of life. John Paul Tierney’s show was a little more sobering, with his emotionally charged portraits of the elderly. What stood out in particular were a series of highly stylised ghost-like portraits and the strangely alluring portrayal of stark industrial landscapes, by Ingvild Andersen.

It was pleasing to see no set ‘house style’ filtering down throughout every show, with the students opting for a more individual and conceptual approach in design, illustration and photography. All in all, we enjoyed what was on offer but were left with strong favourites, while others slipped into the background. Our search for new Hookson talent may not be over yet but there was certainly food for thought.

Review by Lily McIvor and Will Price of Hookson

Cardonald college

At every degree show, students are baring their souls to the outside world in the hope that it leads to a job in the industry. This year’s Cardonald degree show was excellent as usual. Ingenuity, humour, problem solving, style and, on occasion, a touch of quirky brilliance shone from well-presented boards.

Design is a very subjective and emotive profession, but the one ingredient that can break down the normal human defences is humour. Dianne Hughes presented this, intentionally or unintentionally, in her work relating to the dangers of too much sunbathing ‘You wouldn’t burn yourself if you could avoid it...would you?’ asked the strap-line on all her ads, with one ad in particular displaying a pair of very red burnt legs and back with a big white bum in the middle. It actually looked sore and funny at the same time and conveyed the issue instantly. Anyone who has overdone the sun would empathise immediately.

Another design I appreciated was Pamela Martin’s piece on genetically modified foods. Mutant. Anomaly. Aberrant. Three ads (or magazine articles) based around these words told stories of genetic modification. The headline typography was eye-catching and the copy suggested that they were of a pro GM stance. But the copy was so small, and my failing eyesight didn’t help to make things clearer. Maybe a lesson here.

Garry Dickson, who was runner-up in the 999 Design Challenge with a ‘Love Glasgow’ campaign which I really liked, had a strong set of visuals on display, and John Griffiths’ ‘BBC Resource Pack’ was excellent work. Aimed at kids between 12 and 6 it had great appeal. Kieran Barclay’s ‘Volvo Ocean Race’ design work was classy and stylish and I was also taken with his ‘Zest for Life’ concept for an exhibition of international contemporary art.

Sharon Boyle’s ‘How do I Look’ was a thought-provoking series of posters created to promote an exhibition of modern feminist artists. The visuals were constructed around animal names foisted on women in society today, DOG, BIRD, DEER, COW, etc. The female form in the poster was done in reflective silver and distorted the viewer’s face, which was intended to parallel the distorted view of women presented by the media. So there.

Annelies Brown’s Citizens Advice Bureau credit awareness campaign was also worthy of mention, with lines such as ‘Merry Christmas and a Miserable New Year’ intended to spell out the consequences of overspending at Christmas. Could probably have made more of the graphics but the concept was sound. Victoria Kelly also created a memorable campaign for ‘Make Trade Fair’. A series of sinister images pointed the finger directly at ‘big business’ and the way it puts profit before all. ‘Blood on your hands’ and a guy with a knife behind his back put the point across, but for me, the guy in the sunglasses sans weapon was the most chilling: ‘The man from Del Monte, he say do as you’re told or else’.

Each time I attend the Cardonald degree show, it cheers me no end. The ingenuity applied to the work presented by the students at Cardonald says much about them and possibly more about their tutors, who are doing a tremendous job in coaxing the very best out of their charges. Duncan Lamont and Eddie Devine are to be congratulated. That said, it might be worthwhile for Cardonald College to take another progressive step toward rounding off the course by introducing an addition to the curriculum in the form of an ‘introduction to marketing’ and presentation skills for the students. Presenting their work, talking about it with confidence and enthusiasm, is such a critical factor when being interviewed or at a client presentation. Marketing people will be their primary source of income at some point so it helps to understand where these people are coming from.

All in all, another very good crop of young designers hit the streets looking for employment, and I wish them all the very best.

Richard Bissland, managing director at 999 Design

Glasgow school of art

A degree show always offers up the same question for a design school, its keen students and (occasionally) perplexed viewers: How does this work fit into the real world? In fact none of us should really let that question bother us for too long. An art school environment is essentially the hothousing of talent and creativity that has the one-off luxury of surviving and flourishing without commercial pressures of employers and clients. So, you enter the degree show expecting impact and a bombardment of intricacies and ideas. What is clear, though, is that some disciplines this year have coped better with the idea of a ‘show’ than others, and the textiles department high-kicked its way above the rest of them. It had craft combined with innovation and at times joyful impracticality. The star was undoubtedly Scott Kyle – amazingly detailed arrangements of embroidery that you could have believed he’d spent his whole four years slaving over, mixed with ornithological details and festooned with Swarovski crystals. The next Jonathan Saunders, or better? Lorna McCaw provided the impact – swathes of psychedelic colour and swirly typography on a range of fabrics, taking full advantage of the GSA’s brilliant digital printing facility. These innovators make the weavers look pretty grey, though, of course, the ‘old guard’ continue to be just as relevant to the industry.

In contrast the visual communication department was quite sparse, due in part to an apparent cull of numbers. However, that didn’t seem to afford any more possibilities for display outside of the standard format for the design graduates. It all looked okay; there was a guy that took a kind of David Shrigley humour to his hand-drawn graphics, and another who animated alternative typefaces for LED scrolling displays. Both knew their stuff and the execution was beautiful and professional. However, the best work was a series of photographs documenting a rotting house somewhere up North. At first they looked like landscapes from another world and time, but turned out to be walls of fungi and Anaglypta, or hideous furniture that looked as if it had been ravished by termites and flames. The consideration afforded each piece seemed immense. Clearly a great deal of time very well spent.

Review by Emlyn Firth, Stand


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