GSA Painting and Printmaking Degree Show

Recently, I took a wander around the Painting and Printmaking Degree Show at the Glasgow School of Art’s Mackintosh Building – and here’s what I saw.

“So how was the degree show? A bit shit I thought.” Or so the conversation usually goes.

To me however, that's not the best way to evaluate the show. It is after all, a collection of works by individual artists. So while you may judge the school entry selection committee’s ability to spot talent on the basis of a degree show, it doesn’t seem fair to judge individual artists in that way.

So, “So how was the degree show?” really needs to be more like, “So who stood out at the degree show?” So who did stand out at the degree show?

Well, for me, Eimear Friers’ playful use colour, harmony and form really shone through. Pascale Oakley’s work took me to some unexpected places. Inspired by movie stills, these oils began with celluloid’s strength in conveying false memory and ended with an emotional balance appropriately in keeping with works layered-up over weeks and months. Lingbo Liu’s massive works seemed to dance across their top-floor studio space, reveling in the airy outlook, while Rosie Shepley’s flightless birds – which wouldn’t look out of place in the nearby Timorous Beasties boutique – stopped me well and truly in my tracks. Lisa Schmalstich and Jennifer Kirkham reassured me that oil painting and illustration continue to inspire and provide a platform for the next generation of original thinkers, while at the same time took me on two very unique journeys.

Also on display in the Mac building were the the Sculptural and Environmental works of Gail McLintock and Ming Chen. Gail's work seemed like the rebellious child of Rachel Whiteread’s Ghost and Ron Arad’s Rover Chair and impressed both in aesthetics and comfort. What, was I not supposed to sit on them? Ming Chen's central idea was to call artists in China and ask them about the works they would produce if they weren't subject to local sensorship. Those works were then produced in Glasgow, along with transcripts of the conversations, and displayed as part of the show.

So how was the degree show? Bloomin' marvelous! It's art isn't it, it's bound to be both precious and subjective; you need to take time to find it and if you don't look, you won't see and those who never look will never see.

We wish all of the exhibiting artists well in their future careers.