Review: B&FC Fine Art Graduate Exhibition

Attending a bustling open night for this year’s graduate show at Blackpool and The Fylde College, it was a pleasure to go back the night after, in solitude, to take in the work again.

Like the first time round, I found the vast majority of the work of a high quality, but with the silence in the historic building there was a sense of eeriness to some of the work.

Matthew Carr’s fantastic mixed media celebrity portraits with their monochrome tones felt at home in the quietness of the studio space, giving the viewer time to contemplate the authenticity of the star in the work, with the real person having been replaced by some commercialised representation.

Another artist whose work benefits from the muteness of the exhibition space is that of artist Laura Green who explores cult brainwashing with her repeated imagery, which is quite apt considering the news coverage of people brainwashed into extremism this week.

On the opening night the gallery space had a vibrant energy about it, with students’ families proudly viewing the work amongst local artists eyeing up their new contemporaries. The space itself, converted from the old library years ago, is a fantastic exhibition space, probably one of the best on the Fylde Coast, so the emerging creatives exhibiting in there are very lucky.

One artist’s work that’s instantly noticeable in the space is that of fine artist Samantha Hobbs, whose work also appears in the studio space upstairs. Hobbs focuses on decay in nature, her organic ink marks complement the text perfectly on the large paper ground.

Another artist sharing the space with Hobbs is Rhianna Borsely.ย Borsely is almost like a veteran on the local scene, before she has even graduated, with her work appearing in many shows and events other the years. This is a testament not only to the student but also to her course, as Rhianna’s had a wealth of opportunities presented to her to develop her professional practise and she hadn’t missed a beat in snapping up these opportunities. She is surely an inspiration to her peers in the lower years of the degree course.

Anther artist whose work I have seen develop through the nurturing of the college, as well as her own hard graft, is that of Susan Frye. Her portraits of dogs with her highlighting of animal welfare has impressively matured. Susan has started to move away from the canvas as traditional ground for her work, and is now using disregarded material to best represent her animals abandoned by cruelty, which works brilliantly.

As far as eye catching goes, Ronan Smyth is the eyebrow raiser of the show. Smith’s mixed media sculptural creature ‘A Fantastic Prolapse Saga’ has origins in the theory of queer, and with an almost kitsch element, it certainly captures that camp feeling it explores.

My personal favourite exhibition of the group show was that of artist Nadia Arden. It wasn’t Arden’s work which appealed to me, it was more the materials and process. It was a strong display that captured the viewer from the off. Arden explores pattern layering through the method of screen printing, presenting her audience with not only her work, but a time lapse video, the printing tools, and jars of her garish paint. This exhibition gives the viewer more of a personal insight into the artist’s development and was a real pleasure to view.

The artists can breath easy now, with dissertations, final displays, and sketch books all complete; proudly basking in the applause of a must-see show, Well done all involved.

Images by C J Griffiths Photography.

Reclaim Blackpool - Mapping Sexual Harrasment
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