Looking back at a semester of Art

This semester has seen an outstanding array of exhibitions and arty events around the city; as the days have grown darker and the air cooler, our artists have stood their ground and ceaselessly provided an abundance of content for our art writers to cover.

The University of Edinburgh’s Talbot Rice Gallery has this semester seen two major exhibitions presented to the public. The first, Samson Young’s Real Music, was a fascinating and innovative exploration into the nature of music and sound, looking into the possibilities and essences of audial experience. On the night of the 19th September, the gallery opened its doors after hours for a select few arty students to enjoy the exhibition alongside Paradise Palms DJ sets and drinks; Jakob Tynan attended on our boring behalves and had reported back to us that it was an absolute blast.

After Real Music ended, the gallery kept us in suspense for about a month before opening its next exhibition, The Extended Mind, which explored the relationship between human cognition and our environment. Nina Butslova chatted with curator James Clegg, who elucidated the philosophical and psychological concepts which came to form the basis of the exhibition. An unequivocal success, The Extended Mind left us stroking our beards and contemplating our own contemplation.

St Margaret’s House, Edinburgh’s hidden gem, presented a huge variety of interesting and intriguing exhibitions this semester. The first we spotted was Owen Normand’s Moving On, which looked into the concepts of transience, value, and fear, presented through Normand’s striking figurative paintings.
We followed Normand to his next and current exhibition, The Cut at Leith School of Art, which discusses similar themes within the context of Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging. Norman showed Karuna Rahman around his exhibitions, and his fantastically insightful commentaries have us in no doubt as to his intellectual and artistic abilities.

Later at St Margaret’s House came Spilt Milk collective’s Re:Birth, which presented the perspectives on and experiences of motherhood with raw and unapologetic honesty. With a busy calendar in 2020, The Student will continue to cover the provocative and unique exhibitions at St Margaret’s House for some time to come.

Our lovely friends over at the Edinburgh College of Art haven’t missed a beat either, with exhibitions popping up all over the shop. Colin Duncan’s Dead Wood Living at the beginning of the semester was outstanding: Duncan’s mesmerising abstractions presented not only the terror of climate change, but the beauty of Nature as it stands. Claire Barclay’s Skiffing, which briefly populated the ECA’s sculpture court in October, was a beautiful marking of the end of Barclay’s 10 month printmaking residency at the ECA. Looking into the relationships between text, image, and symbol, the works showcased her incredible talent in an often-overlooked medium. And just last week, a collection of second years put on a brief but huge display of the second year ECA students’ works, with beautiful and contemplative pieces in all mediums, proving the strength of our developing artists.

Beyond the exhibitions, the Art section saw a few talented writers decide to pen their arty musings or brave an interview with an actual, real-life artiste. Linda Schlachter wrote a beautiful piece on the power of art to the uninformed eye; inspired by a work at our National Gallery; Linda spoke of art’s power to evoke vivid memory and transport us through time, and of the subjective but nonetheless incomparably important value that art can have for its viewers. Kat Quinn went along to Fraser/Livingstone Architects to interview architecture giant Malcolm Fraser, hitting all the big topics from Capitalism to sustainability to heritage to community, resulting in a fascinating article for all our architecture students to drool over in wild envy of Kat.

The Student’s distribution officer Erin Withey dipped her toe in the writing pool once more, constructing a truly captivating article which started with the Leith Banksys and ended up discussing the commodification of artistic rebellion: a roller coaster of profound thought and sharp insight. And of course no one could miss my own detailed, if convoluted and confusing, features on the Edinburgh contemporary art scene and St Margaret’s House gallery. If that isn’t enough for you voracious art fiends, you can turn over to read Bethany Morton’s illuminating discussion of gallery curation and how we engage with curated spaces.

This semester has been as exciting artistically as it has been rainy and cold climatically, and this editor sees no reason for the excitement to end: next semester promises an abundance of arty happenings and a boatload of opportunities for art lovers to engage with.

Illustration: Hannah Robinson

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