This week, the Sculpture Court was taken over by an array of artworks produced by Edinburgh College of Art MA Fine Art students. From experimental mediums like manipulated glasswork to traditional oil painting these students not only showcased their great artistic abilities. But also presented the new age work of 21st-century art schools. It felt as though I was instantly transported to a new world, maybe it was the bright light bouncing off a trio of Rio Bourke’s neon-coloured paintings, or the soft pitter-patter of the rain installation on my left. Either way, it is safe to say I had quickly forgotten about the dreadful weather outside.
As I made my way through the gallery, I almost felt haunted by two big eyes, their naturalism contrasting the abstract body to which they belong. Libby Entwistle’s painting Dancing with a shadow of the perpetrator drew me in, forcing me to notice the clearly uncomfortable female figure slumped over the eerily ridged perpetrator. A background of dripping muted colours created a semantic field of discomfort, radiating from the female figure, and reflected by the audience’s own reaction to the work.
Hung beside Entwistle’s painting was Martha Cooke’s Studio, a highly naturalistic depiction of an artist’s studio. A dreamy small space of organised mess, boasting large plants reaching out towards the distinctly Edinburgh windows. What made this piece memorable was the melted clock hanging off a wooden structure on the left. Instantly reminded me of Salvador Dali’s Surrealist painting, The Persistence of Memory. As a History of Art student, I greatly appreciated Cooke’s reference to this abstract work, contradicting her naturalistic painting. Across the exhibition was a clear recognition of past art styles, historical and literary references radiated through all artworks. Subtly reminding the audience that this is a MAFA exhibition with students who are required to study History of Art for four years.
Another memorable artwork was The Audit by Elena Gaad: an interactive mixed media artwork that guides the participant into a child’s mind. The never-ending sound of a toy train’s wheels turning creates a separation from the boring outside world. An eclectic collection of colourful toys and other childhood memorabilia reflects the innocent freedom of youth and the artistic freedom expressed by Gaad and her fellow artists across the Sculpture Court.
Following ECA’s decision to move artwork that was deemed “explicit” at the ECA’s Second Year Exhibition as it contained sexual imagery. Daniel Ironside’s highly detailed graphic artworks featuring weapon imagery surrounded a framed QR Code, a link for digital images of sexual content. A visual reminder that art institutions and schools must adapt to a more expressive visual culture that is not only visible in society but also in their own students.
‘Did You Miss Me?’ was a success, an exhibition showcasing the evolution of the art school and its intentions. No longer do we go to exhibitions put on in academic institutions with an expectation of Renaissance-inspired works. Instead, the audience does not know what to expect as the art students decided to use inspiration from their daily lives. As seen in the MAFA Exhibition, student artists want to reflect on current events whilst expressing their identity through their work.
Don’t miss the next MAFA Exhibition, ‘Will You Miss Me?’ (23rd-27th February 2022).
Image Overview of ‘Did You Miss Me’ Exhibition credits Keisha Frimpong