On the 8th of July I went to the Plymouth Young Contemporary Open (PYCO) at the Peninsula Arts Gallery and the Radiant Gallery. The PYCO is a bi-annual event for young people aged between 4 to 30 and this year’s theme was GROW.
I started at the Roland Levinsky Building with my brother where we met with friends who were also interested in the art which the local young people had made. We headed straight into the exhibition at Peninsula Arts. The gallery was full of works in different styles and media, including animation, film, painting, sculpture and drawings. I had seen a couple of pieces before in the Graduate Show at PCA.
One of my favourite pieces here was an ink drawing, ‘Origin’ by Rachel Card (in the 19-23 age category), which showed a woman reading from a book The Origins Of Life and her hair above her was filled with flowers and life under a night sky. Close by was a photography project ‘Growth Of Us’ by Ben Churchill (16-18) a collection of four portraits representing four decades of cultural history. In each portrait the model (I assume it was Ben himself?) is holding a camera from that era and across his t-shirt are photographs of human rights activists of that decade. I also liked the photograph ‘Cranes’ by Ryan Trower of a city skyline filled with cranes, showing how the city is growing upwards to the clouds.
Another ink drawing which I was captivated by was ‘Metropolis’ by George Davies (Winner of the 12-15 category), an extremely intricate illustration of a city. Finally, we all loved ‘Groa’ by Amelia Goodman (12-15), who combined pen, pencil, watercolour, ink and gouache to portray a dragon from a story she wrote herself.
We left the gallery and had our lunch by the Kilkenny limestone sculptures which have been loaned to Plymouth University by Peter Randall-Page. The sculptures are huge and when you touch them they are completely smooth. They made me think about how each block must have started out looking the same but the artist has made them all look unique.
After lunch we made our way across town to the Radiant Gallery. It was my first time visiting and the gallery is attached to the pretty Rumpus Cosy cafe which I would like to visit again for cake sometime! Radiant is a smaller gallery than Peninsula and feels more intimate. I thought that ‘Box 1-3’ by Jessica Owen (16-18) was the most meaningful and emotive piece in the exhibition. It was a mixed media piece of three glass cubes which each contained a different subject. In the first was a curled up baby, the second contained warped Dali-esque clocks, and the third was overflowing with flowers. The label read that the piece was “a personal response to my father leaving the family, my sadness and depression that resulted.”
One of my brother’s favourite pieces was ‘GrowClan Cats Animation’ by Antonia Parkyn (8-11). This was an animation made using Scratch and inspired by the Warrior Cats books by Erin Hunter. I am a fan of the books myself and enjoy making in Scratch so this piece reminded me how young people in 2016 are constantly expressing themselves in creative and unexpected ways using modern technology.
I didn’t enter the PYCO this year but I really enjoyed the exhibition and seeing what other young people in Plymouth are creating, so I’m hoping to take part next time in 2018.