Clear blue skies welcomed the start of Summer Show season at the London College of Communication (LCC) with the opening of Bright Sparks, showcasing the best of the work from the College’s departing Foundation Art & Design (FAD) students.
With a hum, crackle and fizz the show opened as a growing buzz of onlookers, well-wishers, family, and friends filled the galleries for the Private View, which took place on Monday 16 April.
The creative pop and snap of the participating students was sparsely contained within a show that is stripped down and raw. Scaffolded and framed amongst mock ‘work-in-progress’ construction site signage, the work towers with ambition. This is a show that is honest and true, and one that acknowledges the context within which the work sits for those in the early stages of their careers within art and design.
Each gallery space has, coursing through, its own thematic undercurrents, none more so than the Lower Street gallery which hosted the work of those choosing to specialise in photography. Signalling to suggest, as opposed to being overtly heavy-handed, many of the images have a tender nature to them – focusing on trying to capture the non-visual.
Sophie Boden’s words about her own work in response to the ‘Slice of Time’ project brief epitomises the approach taken by this year’s students:
“My project has been about photographing moments in time that we are unable to see with the naked eye. I find a strange kind of beauty in these moments as they are untouched and hidden from us until we are able to capture them with a camera.”
The work of the film students was screened both in the Street Lecture Theatre and in one of the shipping containers sat overlooked by the words ‘Generate, Accelerate, Originate’, forming a bold welcome to those visiting. Disappearing into the dark, the screen was all at once enlightened by the sparking of a Zippo lighter in Sacha Gautier’s adaption of Roald Dahl’s short story – ‘The Man from the South’ that tells of a deranged gambler named ‘Carlos’ presenting a man he meets in a pub the offer of the keys to his Jaguar if he can strike his lighter ten times in a row.
The Upper Street gallery is the largest of the exhibition spaces with a mix of photography, illustration and graphic design work on show, the scale of the work amplified to meet the challenge set down by such a cavernous space to great effect. One of the most eye-catching pieces was Bonnie Kate Wolf’s cylindrical knitted globe, mapping the epicentres of art and design activity across the world and in turn winning an award for best presentation as signified by a bright yellow tag hanging next to a description on the work. Another nice feature of the show was that each piece of student work was accompanied by information not only detailing their name and chosen specialisation but also their destination at end of the course, whether it be to go on to do a degree at UAL, at another college or to take a year out before deciding which direction to go in next.
Further in, bare chipboard a-frames display mounted sketchbooks exhibited the kind of experimentation, play and willingness to make mistakes crucial to getting the most out of a Foundation course in Art & Design, yet the work on show is neither frivolous nor naive. In fact, there was a strongly developed socio-political awareness to be evidenced in much of the work within the space bridging the Upper Street and Atrium galleries. Passing through there were several instances of visitors turning to each other to ask ‘is this all foundation?!’ testament to the scale and variety of what is a vast body of work produced by the course’s 350+ students.
The Atrium gallery was filled with a mix of 3D design, graphics and illustration united, in part, by a certain level as interactivity. It’s important for a course to be culturally relevant beyond the boundaries of the College’s studio walls and Elisabeth Rockson’s response to the ‘Healthy Living’ project brief, a London 2012 Olympics board game, is a great example of this – a piece of work which in turn helped her scoop one of this year’s ‘Most Improved Student’ awards.
In fact, judging by many of the titles of the project briefs displayed alongside the work, such as ‘Social Control, Good or Bad?’ and ‘Propaganda Today’, it’s clear the students have been really pushed to engage with and consider the ethical position of an artist or designer within today’s challenged society.
The Well gallery was home to much of the surface design and textiles work developed by this year’s students. The range of materials used, variety in the scale of the work and hanging arrangements made for a rich body of work. The visiting students and family members were in fine spirits on the night with Jack Tyacke’s smashed and reassembled coffee mugs entitled ‘The Acceptance of Loss’ a particular draw, as one father quipped to his daughter – “It looks like our house.. after you’ve done the washing up…”
There was much to be discovered at the show, from the installations secreted below the stairs in the Well gallery to the individual viewing booths featuring much of the work by the Foundation animators. The evening was capped with a performance by student band ‘General Roots’ in LCC’s Darkroom bar as anticipation gave way to relaxed celebration.
With that, and now glowing amidst lengthened shadows, long since knitted together to cover London in an early spring dusk, Bright Sparks faded into the night; yet will burn on for a good while longer in the minds of those fortunate to have seen the results of a year’s hard work by the outgoing Foundation Art & Design (FAD) students.
For a full list of upcoming LCC Summer Shows, visit – http://newsevents.arts.ac.uk/event/lcc-summer-shows-2012/
Words by Adam Hayes