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 me and my colleagues at Plymouth College of Art Pre-Degree will be putting on a show with our final project work for our first year. It’s open from 4pm to 6pm, and all are welcome. Spread the word, come down to the Palace Court centre and have a look 🙂
Plymouth College of Art – Pre-Degree Campus
Towards the end of 2017, all students at Plymouth College of Art were given the opportunity to submit ideas for projects for a collaboration between PCA and the Tate, called the Tate Exchange 2018. The theme for this exhibition was “Factory Settings“, and we had to come up with ideas based around production. I had an idea to produce collaborative comic strips working with groups of other students, where each participant would give me one frame to draw to build a series of stories. The projects selected to be part of Factory Settings would take place at the same time in London and Plymouth.
My idea was selected as one of the art events to take part, and I requested to have my project based locally, partly because of my age. I’m fifteen, so that places some restrictions on my ability to travel – even with supervision and safeguarding from PCA. I also think it is important to support and create more art projects in Plymouth.
The next stage was for me to plan out my project and what resources I would need for it. Maddy Blythe, the Curriculum Manager at PCA Pre-Degree, suggested that I work across three separate venues, spending one day at each – PCA Tavistock Place, PCA Palace Court, and Plymouth School of Creative Arts, and where in the buildings I should set up. This gave me the chance to work with three different age groups, and see the differences in narrative and content between them.
I decided to carry out my project in an A4 landscape sketchbook (mine was produced by Seawhite of Brighton) and black ink fineliners (I used Sakura Pigma pens) and a brush pen (Pentel), as these are materials I am used to and are good quality, and will keep in good condition for a long time. I supplied myself with the materials (bought at my local specialist art shop The Art Side), but the different venues I went to supplied the chairs and tables!
I visited PCA Palace Court on 31st January, PSCA on the 1st February, and worked in The Warehouse at Tavistock Place campus on the 2nd February. For each comic strip I began by marking out the frames (each strip has four frames, all on one page) For the first frame of each story I asked a participant to give me an idea for the beginning of a story, such as a character doing an action or an event. Then I asked the next two participants what happened next, letting them refer to the previous frames in that story, and then asked the final participant to provide an ending for that story. The next participants would start, continue, and finish the next story/stories.
I didn’t limit people to just giving one idea, as several people had gotten really interested in the project!
In total, I worked with around 38 participants – students, staff, and visitors at the venues from primary age up to adults of between 50-60, and we managed to produce twelve different comic strips. Some of the results were wacky and action-packed, and others were more sweet and thoughtful. The themes ranged from rockets in space, to an elderly couple breaking the fourth wall, and duels between unicorns. Each strip fills an A4 page and consists of images with no description, and so the theme of production is able to continue in the reader as they must interpret the story themselves, so each story can have multiple meanings depending on the interpreter/reader.
My plans for my sketchbook of comic strips is to make it into a new zine, which I hope to release at Counter art book fair in Plymouth on the 17th March. I will also have the original artwork with me for people to look through. After that, I will be making it available for galleries and exhibitions interested in art books, comics, or work from young artists.
If you are interested in viewing the original art for this project, please come along to Counter, or contact me.
UPDATE (11/3/18)! My new TEX Comics zine will be available at Counter! See this post for more info!
Last year I was a member of the National Saturday Art and Design Club at Plymouth College of Art. We got to experiment with different media and artforms throughout the year, and take trips to local exhibitions as well as two trips to London for bigger NatSatClub shows featuring our work alongside work made by other groups.
Our final trip to London was on the 17th of June. We met up really early to catch our coach just after 6am so we could get to the exhibition at Somerset House around 11am. It was really busy as hundreds of young people from NatSatClubs around the country had come to see their work on display. We were greeted and each given goody bags of art supplies, water, and snacks, and shown in to the first area where all the Masterclass work was on display. Our Masterclass was in making word drawings with Barnaby Barford.
Next we went upstairs and had a look around the different clubs’ work. Plymouth sent in a lot of our work, and the pieces that were chosen for display were our beach glass jewellery, and our glass houses which we made in a class led by our Student Ambassador Ben Lintell.
This video shows our glass houses lit from below with a torch to cast shadows on the white wall.
We were all called into a large room filled with benches for a speech by the National Saturday Club founders, Lord and Lady Sorrell. Then we were called up one by one and received our Certificates and Yearbooks.
After the ceremony some of our group went to the National Portrait Gallery, but I stayed to look around the exhibition for a while longer. There was a huge amount of different types of work on display by young people from the many clubs, including zines, puppets, film, fashion and ceramics.
At the end of the day, we met up with the rest of the group to get back to the coach. Unfortunately, the coach had overheated (it was a really hot day!) and was broken down, leaving us stranded in London! Our group leaders brought us all water to drink and we took a walk around Covent Garden watching a clown and looking in the Moomin shop. The coach was fixed in an hour or so, and we headed back on the five hour journey home.
I was sad that some of the work I was most proud of from our many projects wasn’t put on display, but I hope to be able to put photos up of those pieces here soon, and I did have a really good day. It was really amazing seeing so much work from young artists all in one place and I was really inspired by all that I saw. I would recommend joining the group to anyone aged from 14 to 16 who likes art and really wants to try different things.
Below are some photos of work from National Saturday Clubs all around the country. I have included lots here so that people who didn’t get to go on the trip can still enjoy some of the work we saw.
Here are some links to previous posts I have written about NatSatClub:
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.