This afternoon I went to visit the PCA Graduate Show 2018. I only had a chance to visit the Game Arts and Illustration exhibitions, but I plan to go again tomorrow (the last day!). I’ll try to post about the full exhibition later, but for now, below are some of my favourite pieces that I’ve seen so far.
Today I went to St. Saviours’ Hall on the Barbican for an exhibition by Ancient Scent, a group of artists who take residencies in different places. Their project Ancient Scent: Ireland was a residency “inspired by the spirit of Ithell Colquhoun’s own journey to Ireland, recorded in her psychogeographical memoir”. During this project, Ancient Scent spent a week in Ascendancy House in Ballycumber, and visiting sites such as Durrow Abbey, Clonmacnoise, and Leap Castle. The work in the exhibition was made after their return in April 2017, and created during group art workshops.
The artistic styles and the mediums which Ancient Scent use are really diverse, from photography, to pottery and ceramics, all the way to creating an imaginary cult. The individual artists within the collective inspire each other’s work, so the exhibition isn’t just a lot of different objects on the same theme, but feels more like a full fusion of all of the artists’ skills and ideas. Walking around and looking at the pieces was like wandering through a folktale, serene and magical at times then creepy and menacing at others. I’ve never been to an exhibition quite like this before, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for more of Ancient Scent’s work.
There are lots of small metal creatures in birdcages hanging from a fabric forest.
Most of the creatures are asleep but some are awake and waiting to be talked to.
Every creature has unique features, some have beaks, some have antlers, others have big cat ears or spiky ears.
There is a comfy sofa and some books so you can sit and read aloud to the creatures to make them happy. Sometimes, the creatures will sing..
This exhibition was adorable but also sad because of the context. It has been created and curated by a small group of young people who are in foster care, working with curators and artists from Effervescent. The exhibition is intended to make us think about issues around foster caring and how children in foster care are maybe seen by other people and by themselves. It will probably give you a lump in your throat and it is one of the most moving exhibitions I have visited.
The singing happens once an hour, around the beginning of the hour. Get there a bit earlier than that to look around in quiet and read the exhibition materials. Sit on the sofa and read a book aloud to yourself and the creatures (I recommend The Melancholy Death Of Oyster Boy which I discovered there). Most importantly, wait to hear the creatures sing!
The exhibition will be on until the 25th November. I will be going back again and taking friends with me because I think this is an exhibition a lot of them will enjoy and it is a really thought-provoking and sweet experience.
After I visited the Illustration degree show, I went to look at the other creative graduate work around the Plymouth University campus. This post shows my favourite pieces from the BA (Hons) Graphic Communication with Typography show.
Sophie had on display her zine SOS #1. What I like about this zine is how noisy the graphics are, with a mix of busy shapes and active and bright colours. The black and white checkered pattern is really simple but eye-catching, and looks really great with the black text on yellow “Welcome to #1” labels.
Kaisa’s project included animation with spinning, flashing and other moving parts, and packets of stickers, to raise awareness of the lack of equal opportunities to female DJs. I think the use of equipment dials and read-outs to demonstrate the issues is clever and I like how the poster colours make them look like gig posters.
I really like the mixture of different text types used in James’s Analog Magazine, which includes handwritten words of different thicknesses and slopes, typed text, and text which has been printed or stamped. The magazine looks really interesting and I think it would appeal to graphic designers as well as people who are interested in vintage creative equipment like old cameras and typewriters.
Lucy has created a zine which draws attention to the design of really useful everyday items that we might overlook as great examples of design, but they are! I like the way she has limited her colours in each picture to give a 3-d effect to her simple lines.
Gemma has designed a set of alternative street designs that look at the sort of problems that might happen if we were to start modifying human DNA. The signs have a dry humour to them and very clear messages that provoke thought.
Though Sophie Clark‘s main work is centred around illustration (and some pattern designs) the project that she has been working on and has displayed at the Show includes these cute, fluffy, hand made monster toys. The monsters come from the children’s book she has been working on, There are Monsters in My Head. The ears of the cuddly monsters crinkle and the large one has a squeaker and a rattle. My little sister (who is nearly three) really loved these toys and was fascinated with them.
Jake Cutler‘s concept art on the story of King Arthur makes me feel like the environments he has illustrated are cold and mysterious. My favourite image is the illustration on the top left. I love the way the distant cliffs and mountains are covered in mist but you can still see there is a ravine down the middle.. What could be in there?
I talked to Nathaniel J. Hall while at the college about his artwork and about his experience on the course. He mentioned that an animation he created (also on display) was inspired by his “thoughts and feelings about coming to Plymouth” and pointed out that the animation starts off with negative words and illustrations but gradually becomes happier and more positive. He also told me that before enrolling in the Illustration course, Nathaniel visited and looked around a previous Summer Show at PCA and was inspired by what he saw. His artwork is normally monochromatic, and Sunshine is one of three screenprints on display inspired by his favourite films. I love how this one is dramatic, like an explosion.
Anita Yip‘s work is inspired by anime and manga, and she incorporates lots of geometric shapes into the backgrounds and characters that she illustrates. A lot of her characters also have animal traits or features, for example this character is wolf-like. Anita also has on display prints covered in tiny hieroglyphic symbols, and her zine Meep! which tells a funny and endearing glimpse of her life.
Joe Mouzourus was also available to speak to when I visited. Joe said he has “always wanted to be an artist since secondary school and that with illustration, “you can go in any direction”. Joe has displayed a collection of posters of films with strong female leads, including this one of Rey from Star Wars VII. I really like the dry brush style background and in the foreground it looks like he’s used pencils to create a detailed, shaded sketch which really stands out.
Nicola Owen‘s work has cute and simple lineart, colouring and shading. This display contains pages from her comic My Visit To Grandma. The artwork is adorable but the story is really sad and thought provoking. Nicola also has some minizines/comics on display and her overlapping cat pattern is clever and humorous.
Cosmo Lloyd‘s work is inspired by medieval and fantasy themes, and her work centres a lot around character design and comic art. She is the author of a webcomic called Uprooting, which is about “self worth and family issues with a sprinkle of medieval” and a printed preview of Uprooting is on display at the Show. She uses lots of colours in her work, and creates very detailed and well developed character concepts.
Briony Difford specialises in illustrating book covers, and her work is inspired by Asian folktales. Her illustrations are beautiful and detailed, yet she keeps her colouring simple by using separate individual shades, and leaving out any highlights or shadows.
Stephanie Parnell made this artwork for a small vinyl record sleeve (also on display was a poster version of the same piece). I find Legs Occult: Dark Rituals creepy and dark but also beautiful.
Amber-Louise Crawford’s creature illustrations are full of life. She combines simple, sketchy lineart with heavily shaded and blended colouring. This creature in the photo above looks like a forest spirit.
There are so many artists I haven’t covered in this post who had work on display, but today is the final day of the exhibition and I wanted to show how brilliant the work on display is so that if you’re interested in the Summer Show, you can take this last chance to check it out for yourself! I will most likely write a second post about the Illustration show later covering some of the things I missed here, so come back later to look for that.
When I visited the Animation room I was lucky to speak with graduating students Tim Howe and Bram Whitford. They explained to me that the first year of the degree course was quite experimental, in the second year they started to specialise and took part in a big project with the other Animation students, and in the third year they specialised further and worked on their final projects. Tim said that students can “start from zero on this course and develop their skills” and Bram explained that students are “encouraged to experiment on this course and explore their strengths”.
They both said that students are able to practice at different roles to see what suits them, for example directing or creating assets, and they are encouraged to collaborate with students from other departments in the college (some collaborated with Plymouth University students too). Bram said that the course covered a lot of different styles of animation as well as business and practical skills. Now that they have finished their degrees, Bram plans to focus on running his own illustration company, and Tim is hoping to do more CGI animation work.
Jessica Mehler is a 2D and Stop-motion animator. For her animation Catawampus she has created beautiful models, she has even hand sewn the clothes worn by her characters. Jessica’s attention to detail is incredible and she has put a lot of her models on display at the exhibition. There is a whole miniature house to look inside, with tiny food and crockery and furniture, and faces featuring different expressions for her main character. Jessica collaborated with filmmaker Julia Claxton on the design and building of the set for Catawampus. The story is about a young girl who gets lost in the woods and finds a mysterious cabin. The animation is of extremely high quality and was one of my favourite pieces in the Animation degree show. Watch a trailer for Catawampus here.
Larisa Cleaver has put a twist on the stories of Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks in her animation Goldi And Red. The style is really cute, using paper cutouts and split pin joints. The movement of the characters and scenery are really exaggerated like puppets and this makes the animation seem playful. The story is fun and I think that younger girls especially would enjoy it. Watch a trailer for Goldi And Red here.
Libby (LJ) Durose is an illustrator and animator and her work on display includes badges and her animation Ava. In Ava a young girl is chased by bullies and thrown into a well, then is befriended by a mysterious girl, who might be a ghost? Ava was another of my favourite pieces in the Animation degree show and I would like to see a longer project or even series of shorts based on these characters. The style is sketchy pen in black and white, it looks influenced by anime and the shadow work is really good. Watch a trailer for Ava here.
Libby’s badge designs are closeups of pen sketched faces and I plan to get one on my next visit to the exhibition. She also does ink portrait commissions and her artwork is in a detailed comic style, contact her by email.
Tim Howe originally specialised in stop-motion but is now working in CGI. His animation Jerome is a stop-motion animation about a man and his dog. Sort of. It has a really unexpected ending which young children might find a bit disturbing, so beware! The story is strange but darkly humourous. Tim’s models are made from oven hardened clay and wire and have a lot of personality. He has also used action figures in parts of the film. Watch Jerome here.
Sophie Oliver is a 2D Animator and her animation Migaloo has painted backgrounds and uses flowing fabric to create a wavy effect. The story is based at sea, a young diver is carried away by the current and helped by a giant whale. The style reminded me of Eric Carle’s story books and the animation was gently flowing. I really enjoyed how the music began smooth and calm and picked up pace and became more frantic when she was swept away. Watch Migaloo here.
Bram Whitford is an illustrator and animator. His animation is about a young person who finds an old top hat in an attic which attaches itself to their head. It seems like an origin story for a crime-fighting hero or villain. It was a funny short animation and I like the simple but cute artwork. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a link to it to share here!
There is more to see in the Animation room and even just seeing the models used in Catawampus and Jerome are really worth the visit. Allow at least half an hour to watch all the animation pieces which are being shown on a loop projected on a large screen. The PCA Summer Show is on until the 22nd June and the Animation room is on the first floor, next door to Game Arts. The Tavistock Place campus is also having an Open Day this Saturday 17th June so if you are interested in their Foundation, Undergraduate or Postgraduate courses you should go.
In April, I went to the Plymouth Arts Centre and had a look around Mike Perry’s exhibition, Land/Sea. This is a photography exhibition that takes a look at the environmental issue of our oceans becoming polluted by trash dumped by people.
The exhibition is set out across several rooms. The first room is filled with photographs of old and tattered shoes that Mike Perry found washed up on the Pembrokeshire coast. Each picture focuses up close on an individual shoe. Some were so deteriorated, they weren’t recognisable as shoes to me!
The second room has images of assorted junk like broken plastic crates, shredded bin bags, and more. It is linked directly to a smaller room with a display case filled with lumps of plastic that has fused with nets and other bits of plastic, and then been broken down by the sea until the pieces look like natural rocks.
There is also a short documentary Môr Plastig by Eiler Pierce playing that shows clips of Mike Perry talking about his work and working through the stages of finding, examining and photographing the different objects.
The fourth room has lots of photos of old, empty plastic bottles. Some of these have such unusual colours and shapes, they could be from all over the world.
The final room contained large landscape photos of British moors and mountains that have been deforested. To me, these landscapes looked like they could be on an alien planet.
Land/Sea will be open until the 17th of June at the Plymouth Arts Centre, and I definitely recommend a visit.