I am a bit late in writing up my thoughts on the MA Fine Art Degree Show which took place at The New Art Gallery, Walsall. The exhibition has ended now, but I didn’t want to remain speechless about an exhibition that inspired me so much and included the work of some very good friends of mine who have now left (and whose presence I will miss about the place as I complete my MA). My excuse for not writing this earlier is work. I have been extremely busy with paid work and sadly, this has eaten into any time for art or writing about art. However, today, lying in my sick bed nursing a delicate digestive system, I have both the time and inclination to write.
When I think back to this year’s MA Fine Art Show one word comes to mind: 1984. I’m not talking about the year I chose my GCSE options, the year of Thatcher’s height of fame, the year of big mobiles and yuppies. I’m referring to the novel by George Orwell of that name. To me, as I walked around the exhibition with my three boys during the opening night, the MA Fine Art Show had an Orwellian feel to it. By this I mean that the themes the pieces covered reminded me of the vision of the future in that book, a vision that has to some degree come to fruition, yet it has also, in many ways, remained science fiction. It is the mix of community-artist interactions and us-them concepts delved into which I felt at the MA Show that gave me this eerie sensation.
The space itself was an amazing space for an exhibition: shiny black floor, tall white walls, room upon room of well-presented and professional creative artworks. Together it was a delight for the senses and for the brain. There was much to think about and ponder on, including time and space; the contemporary avant garde; self-image; projected image; inequality in wealth; capitalism; community; stereotypes; and surveillance. There was art to look at, art to interact with, art to walk inside and around. I felt as if there were no bounds on the artworks on display, which as I say often is what art should be now. There are no bounds and neither should there be now. Anything goes: from the simple to the complicated, from the crafted to the borrowed, from the static to the moving, from the big to the small.
I just hope that I can contribute something as good as the pieces I saw at the New Art Gallery in Walsall when it comes to my time this time next year. Watch this space, as they say.
And the highlight of the evening? Seeing the real Gilbert and George and what a dapper, fascinating, couple they are. They are artists to aspire to as for them, anything goes. They are living proof that art is whatever you make it.