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Friday 2 September 2011

Shift | The Arts University College Bournemouth Postgraduate Show Opens Today

Opening today, the highly anticipated Arts University College at Bournemouth postgraduate show features graduates from fine art, photography, graphic design, and many more, runs until the 8 September. The exhibition, entitled Shift, reflects the interdisciplinary nature of postgraduate study and represents the culmination of a meaningful, transformative and personal journey for the students involved.

Work in the show features Yves Findling who uses screen prints from the Internet and YouTube which, even if they reflect the production run of the mass-production of goods in the industry, have a hand-made character and a unique connection to the illustrator as the creator of the artworks; and Araki Shiro who investigates the complexity between architectural form and surreal sculpture and assemblage, creating objects by hand that resemble organic form using inorganic material such as carbon fibre and glass fibre, looking at the relationships between objects and the body in a subconscious form.

Shift also features the work of Noelle Barnett who’s ethereal and emotive series of oil paints investigate the depiction of skin in painting producing images that eliminate unnecessary detail and leave more breathing space for the viewer to work in their own interpretations and Isobel Browse who's practice relates to the domestic interior, a space that exists between house and home. Aesthetica spoke to Noelle and Isobel about their work and what the future holds for them after AUBC.

What has the preparation process for Shift been like?

NB: Studying part-time has meant that I experienced last year’s show, and was aware that we should plan for it earlier than the previous year. I have worked alongside another student, Isobel Browse, and we canvassed the group to establish a title for the show so it could be professionally ‘branded’ with a uniform quality of information to distribute as early as possible. I particularly wanted to advertise outside of Bournemouth and try to get people coming to visit from London! To be honest, I was really disappointed with the general lack of initial enthusiasm for the show from other students. I feel it is a really important aspect of any course, and one can learn such a great deal from the process. I hoped it would build an element of team spirit prior to installing the show in August. Nevertheless, a small working group was established with others joining later.

IB: Absolutely, working with Noelle on a show with such a diverse set of disciplines has been a fantastic experience. We couldn't have done it without the fantastic core group of students working hard on all the details of the show.

With such a broad variety of media on display, curating the show must be a challenge. Who is responsible for curatorial decisions and is there an overall theme?

NB: Last year, as the group was small, they had a lot of space and the curatorial decisions for the Course Leader were easier. This year due to a higher number of students, the show is being held in the AUCB Gallery and Fine Art Studios and the decisions are more complex. Due to the nature of the course philosophy there is no overall conceptual theme to the show. Each of our individual practices is supported and recognised in their particular diversity. However, similar concepts and ideas have emerged and traverse the pathways, and for me this aspect serves to demonstrate the excellent qualities of the course.

IB: One of the exciting aspects of the course is the diverse disciplines you find yourself working alongside. I don’t have curatorial experience but I had a strong idea of where I would like to place the work and it is quite site specific. We worked collaboratively with Ronnie Inglis, MA Course Leader and it has been fantastic watching the spaces come together. The nature of the course determines that there is not an overall concept, simply a strong desire to show all the work at its absolute best, enhanced by the pieces around it. I certainly have more experience than I did previously and I hope to be involved in many more exhibitions in the future.

Could you talk us through your work on the MA? What pieces will you be showing in Shift?

NB: I started the MA after completing a five-year, part time, BA in Fine Art at the AUCB. I had reached a point where I knew I wanted to take my work much further, and am so glad I had the opportunity and support to achieve this. My initial aims were to develop my painting skills and knowledge as far as possible, to increase my confidence in my practice and to research how skin was depicted within painting. Going back to look at Renaissance painters and looking at techniques and issues of representation of beauty and ugliness, led me to more in depth research about peoples attitudes to their own and others skin, taking into account advertising and media pressures. I used various techniques within my practice to back up this research, such as digital scanning and watercolour studies. The final phase of the MA took this research into the studio and the development of a series of oil paintings. These works are a response to the research and I have deliberately moved away from representation into an abstract and ambiguous depiction. They are quieter and more reflective, and offer a glimpse of the ephemeral, the experience of the body within the world. I am showing the final three pieces I made, as they mark both a conclusion and departure point within my practice.

IB: My practice relates to the domestic interior: the space that exists between house and home. Initially, I drew inspiration from an archive of my family’s photographs that I inherited, muddled in boxes with hardly any contextual information. I began to question whether our surroundings and possessions shape or mask our identities. Using phenomenology and anthropology, I investigate our response to our domestic space. Architectural motifs and preoccupied figures explore the transient and the permanent, serving to alienate and distance the viewer. Opposing themes of the interior and the exterior, cropped simplicity and pattern, create a sense of dislocation and unease: a series of frozen moments, psychological remoteness evoking elements of the uncanny. I work both in the traditional and digital darkroom and many of my images are initially taken using a view camera. The pieces I have chosen to show in Shift are images that reflect all aspects of my work on the MA, showing a synthesis of both method and methodology. 

What has been your main source of inspiration for this body of work?

NB: My main inspiration is skin. I have read so much about it over the past two years, and looked at so much, it almost became obsessive, staring at people in the supermarket and wanting to photograph them! The concept that skin is a two-way membrane is really important- and that it is our interface with the world. We experience so much through touch, and skin memory intrigues me - how far can we remove our touch yet still feel the surface we were touching- like the meniscus on water? The fact we shed our skin, and that it makes up 90% of house dust, means it is in the air we breathe, so the whole world can be understood as skin. I want to capture the equivalent of our existence in the world, what we experience, and how we feel.

IB: I draw inspiration from a variety of sources but throughout my time on the MA, Hammershoi, Hopper and the painters of the Dutch Golden Age have continually influenced my practice.

What’s next for you after you graduate?

NB: I want to take a short time out to consider my options, but would really like to continue with further research. I will be looking at what options are available for the following year. I have work in an Art Fair in London this October, the Parallax Art Fair at La Galleria, Pall Mall, 14-16 October, and hope to get work into exhibitions in London in the future. I would also like to do some teaching, as I am very passionate about encouraging people into education.

IB: I am going to concentrate on exposure initially. I will continue to make new work and I already feel an intense pull to continue my practice and research at the next level.

Shift will be open daily from 10 – 4:30pm with a late night opening until 8pm on Thursday 8 September.


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Image: Courtesy the artist

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