• Fri. Jun 14th, 2024

The Pursuit Exhibition

ByPatricia Kohring

Feb 11, 2023
Three visitors to the exhibition look at one of the artworks, lit in purple"Pursuit Exhibition", Photograph by Angeni Perez.

Why do artists choose to make the art that they do? What fascination, context, curiosity, and desire to express and communicate propels their artistic pursuit? These are the fundamental questions that the Edinburgh Gallery Society posed to the artists involved in their latest exhibition at the Patriothall Gallery. Pursuit seeks to address and reveal an aspect of artistic production that is often undermined in its absence from the final presentations of pieces. The aim of the exhibition is to consider the development of artists and their works throughout the creative process. Having attended the Gallery Society’s previous exhibition, I was naturally compelled to give Pursuit a visit and see the society’s realisation of its theme. 

It’s 6 pm on a Saturday when I enter the chic, hidden Patriothall Gallery in Stockbridge. The space is ample, and artworks embellish its interior. I am impressed by the range and abundance of work, lit up by various blue, pink and purple strobe lights- all of which highlight the pieces and create a cool and very contemporary evening atmosphere.

“James and Gian with Merge in the Background”, Photograph by Angeni Perez, Pursuit Exhibition.

The first artist I speak to is James Grossman, a fourth-year Product Design student at the University of Edinburgh. Diverging from his previous work with 3D print sculpture, the piece he has submitted for Pursuit belongs to a series of prints on acrylic that he will be producing this year. Speaking to James, he revealed that this creation springs, like his past works, from an interest in exploring the relationship between organic forms in the natural and digital realm. He described Merge as “An amalgamation of organic forms, characterised by their ability to meld together when in close proximity to create single, contiguous objects”.  He also revealed his ultimate desire to lie in creating pieces that appear unnatural yet encompass forms that have a visually appealing effect. And indeed, the stark blue creation, with its oddly curved and almost rippling shapes against the white wall of Patriothall, evokes an effect that verges on mesmerising in its artificial beauty. 

East of the Sun, West of the Moon by Freya Moran”, Photograph by Angeni Perez, Pursuit Exhibition.

Next, I was caught by the fantastic dazzle of what appeared to be a gilded piece. Freya Moran graduated with a degree in illustration last year, and East of the Sun, West of the Moon is the product of her independent work as an artist. Primarily working with textiles, Freya explains that her art “straddles the boundary between illustration and modern craft”. Her piece for Pursuit, along with its title, is an aureate quilt inspired by a Norwegian folktale that follows a female protagonist as she sets out on a journey to rescue the man she has fallen in love with. She says that “the female-focused narrative pays tribute to the deeply rooted history of quilting as a women’s craft, means of socialising, communicating and even protesting”, as quilting and textile arts have traditionally been denounced from ‘serious art’ and reduced to mere ‘women’s craft’. Freya created this piece in opposition to assumptions surrounding textile art to showcase women’s strength, ambition and talent. It is a beautiful textile piece, and its emphasis on narrative raises the complexity behind its design.

Reflective Disruption by Gian Luca Tait”, Photograph by Angeni Perez, Pursuit Exhibition.

Two other artists I spoke to were Gian Luca Tait and Angeni Perez, both of who used nature as a point of departure for their artistic exploration in the Pursuit project. Gian’s piece stood out by virtue of being enclosed in a vast vitrine, but upon a closer look, it was the immaculate detail and the research that this detail signified that made the piece most exciting. The artist explained that Reflective Disruption documents the “forms of reflective hydrology occurring across 6 points of disruption along the Water of Leith”. The disruptions at the locations are presented through layers signifying the thermal properties of the river (indicated by pins), sounds at each site (punctured translucent material), and light reflection (a scalpel-cut lace) that are cleverly placed over one another. As a whole, the piece is an innovative impression of how scientific data can be visualised through artistic expression.

Glacial Drift by Angeni Perez”, Photograph by Angeni Perez, Pursuit Exhibition.

Angeni’s sculpture piece, Glacial Drift, similarly addresses natural phenomena. Her plinth is a combination of glass Sandcast rock and lave inspired by the active geology she discovered on a visit to Iceland. Through the fusion of materials, Angeni sought to explore the transformative movements of nature and how natural materials are, in fact, in constant flux due to environmental processes such as weathering, erosion, compression, melting and cooling. Besides Angeni’s fascinating enterprise, the piece impressed me with its sophisticated composition; the feel of Iceland’s rugged beauty is beautifully contrasted by the sensual fragility evoked through the integrated glass.

There were numerous brilliant pieces that I have failed to mention in this article, but their diversity truly showcased the University of Edinburgh Gallery Society’s persistence in fulfilling their mission: of providing a platform for upcoming and talented individuals of all backgrounds to exhibit their art in a professional environment. I have been delighted by the innovative nature of their exhibitions before, and the focus on the artistic process in Pursuit only confirmed my positive impression of the society’s work. I look forward to seeing what else the society and the artists they represent have in store for this term.

Images of the Pursuit Exhibition are courtesy of Angeni Perez.