With the closing of another academic year, art graduates across Leeds’ universities have been busying themselves with a vast array of displays, curating, installing and marketing. The sheer amount of creativity, expression and confidence in their end of year shows reflects a culmination of their own discovery of their work and embracing the next threshold of professional practice, or worse still, encountering the real world. At a time where degree show criticism is a hot topic and needs a re-interrogation, the following serves as a round up of some of Leeds’ output this year: THINK at Leeds School of Art, Architecture, and Design, at Leeds Beckett; Squeeze at the University of Leeds; and finally, the dual exhibits of Leeds Art University 2018.
THINK, Leeds School of Art, Architecture, and Design, Leeds Beckett University, City Campus
Leeds Beckett THINK exhibition represents a strong cross-disciplinary event of graduates from varying practices such as product design, architecture, fine art and graphics. Housed within the elegantly-designed Broadcasting Place building, the myriad of disciplines articulate a fierce ambition and evolution within their work. Noteworthy exhibits include the Architecture Department’s consideration of dystopian futures and interrogation of communicative structures, whilst the majority of the show is given to the Fine Art discipline. Evident immediately is the faculty’s excellent guidance of their cohort, with musings of politicism and vibrant eclecticism throughout the works on display encompassing various practices and developing voices to the art world.
SQUEEZE, University of Leeds, School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies
SQUEEZE tells us ‘The world is on fire but water is no longer enough,’ and this mantra is echoed throughout the works of the 58 students on display. Exhibited over four floors, SQUEEZE affords the feeling of resistance and an aggressive demonstration of the department’s identity. The exhibition does feel restricted, where works suffer in terms of space for contemplation and effect, but in terms of output, the works on display are strong in message and enthusiasm, fostering an institutional strength and unity. SQUEEZE works best in its community voices, and its vociferousness eagerness to be heard and accounted for.
Leeds Art University Show 2018, Blenheim Walk and Vernon Street
The final entrant into the degree show schedule, and perhaps in a wave of exclusivity, Leeds Art University demonstrates a confidence in its students and direction for the future. Accompanied by an Art Market selling works by its cohort, the show represents a burgeoning trend for abstraction, eclecticism and sheer passion in creating new works. The varying faculties share a collective enthusiasm, where all the talent on display share a passion to create, and push themselves further. For the simplest of request for any degree show, Leeds Art University delivers in terms of aesthetics, passion and sheer productivity.
Whilst many degree shows can become a laborious endeavour of dodging proud parents and gaggles of students, Leeds’ art faculties all share an identity of growth that both embraces and challenges the creative network of neighbouring institutions. All the degree shows demonstrate some strong faculty leadership, which has fostered the students creatively, ethically and enthusiastically. However, what was a powerful trend to see, was the works on display being unrestrained and willing to evolve.
Louis D’Arcy-Reed runs the art practice HelloEsposito, based online and in Yorkshire. He is also a PhD Student in Architecture, Contemporary Arts and Psychoanalysis, writer, poet and sometimes Curator.