The 2012 Graduate Art Degree Show was held on the Cluan Mhuire campus at Galway Mayo Institute of Technology from the 6th – 19th June. The art show is a fixture in the Galway art calendar and as usual the exhibition was a great showcase for the talented students that complete degree courses in the Centre for the Creative Arts and Media. The exhibition was opened amid huge excitement by Megs Morley an artist and curator and ran for a week attracting thousands of visitors.
The Cluain Mhuire building is a huge institutional edifice which was once a redemptorist monastery and the wide corridors, high ceilings and large windows make for an interesting exhibition space where the individual exhibit spaces sometimes need to be searched out and found. The exhibition was broken up into five separate artistic forms; ceramic, paint, print sculpture and textiles however some of the individual art pieces on display could not be so neatly categorised and many included video and film, installations and performance.
There was an eclectic mix of styles and everyone who came to look and explore the exhibition couldn’t fail to find something that they enjoyed or related to but also things that challenged and at times maybe even repulsed. The themes being explored by the 78 exhibiting artists ranged from the personal to the overtly political and explored concepts such as sense of place, environment, nature, social issues and all aspects of the human condition. What was common to all of the exhibits was an underlying honesty and lack of cynicism and a willingness to challenge and to be challenged. That coupled with exuberance and energy made for a stimulating, thought provoking exhibition.
Gerardine Quin the head of the Centre for Creative Arts and Media points out in the foreword to the exhibition catalogue that ‘the exhibition is a culmination of four years of hard work and study’. For all of the students the degree show was their chance to launch themselves into the world as artists.
I visited on the last day of the exhibition and met with some of the artists and caught many of them in a reflective mood as the exhibition was ending and they faced into the future.
Before getting inside Cluain Mhuire I bumped into Craig McLeod one of the exhibiting artists and he was good enough to share his thoughts with me and his exciting plans for a mobile residency.
Exploring the upper floors of the exhibition I met Lisa Jane McGann who talked with me about her childhood being the inspiration for her work.
Later while continuing to explore the exhibition I found Craig McLeod’s work (who I had talked with earlier) and was extremely taken with it. There were a series of sepia toned photographs reproduced on glass. Craig was exploring the concept of transparency and his work was generating a great reaction from the visitors exploring the exhibition. I chatted to Moe one of the visitors about the Craig’s work and also about some of the sculpture pieces we had seen downstairs.
Some of the highlights of the show for me were the sculpture pieces and I luckily caught up with two of the artists responsible for some of that remarkable work. Noel Arrigan and Jessica Buckley were manning the front desk and they gave me their thoughts on their motivation behind pursuing an art degree and their plans for the future.
Noel’s work was an exploration of the healing powers of Ireland’s holy wells. His installation featured a forest of crutches which took inspiration from an old photograph of pilgrims at Doon well in 1903 where because there were no trees at the well people put rags or objects from loved ones on abandoned crutches as a way of leaving an intention or prayer so the sick could be cured. The installation also featured a subtle but strangely moving multimedia piece which featured a video of a head made form ice melting in combination with an actual water drip falling into a heated metal bowl which caused a fizz. A description does it no justice as it needs to be experienced.
Jessica Buckley took me on a tour of the installation where she performed her work during the Graduate Degree Show in the GMIT.
It was great to see such brilliant talent on display. There are photographs of some of the pieces that caught my eye over on Flickr and I’d like to wish all of the artists the best of luck.
— wibblywobblyweb (@wibblywobblyweb) June 16, 2012