A student exhibition held in the Sculpture Court of the Edinburgh College of Art is not a rarity and neither is an opening night reception. But this Tuesday it was different. Visitors did not feel like they were attending yet another student show. The atmosphere of the night was unique as this was an experimental exhibition in both theme and organisation. There was a two-piece jazz band adding to the immediate feel of intimacy, along with wine and canapés. The art and theme of the exhibition was different and intriguing in new ways for a student show. And of course, having Lucy Askew, Senior Curator at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art open the night, added another level of excitement to the air.
When I say “student show”, I do not mean only the artists who are current students at ECA. Every aspect of the show and opening night was student organised and executed. Most unique perhaps, were the catalogues for this exhibition [PDF]. On the cover was a piece created by a graphic design student, Kate Berry. Inside features a detailed description of each work and the significance it has to both the artist and the theme of Confessional Art. Each description was written by a different History of Art MSc student with its own unique voice. Having History of Art MSc students work together with the artists is not an opportunity we are given very often and one that was highly valued by all on the project.
The team of MSc ARTIST ROOMS Research Partnership interns has worked with the organisation throughout the course of our programme this past year. During that time we have been lucky enough to have the work of Louise Bourgeois on show at both the National Galleries of Scotland and the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh. Throughout the two exhibitions were many talks, events, and a day long symposium which we have been lucky enough to work on. One of the six interns, Sophie Lónyay, was inspired by Bourgeois’ work and wanted to create one more event surrounding the late artist. Her idea was to create a student art exhibition in which the only guidelines for the artists was that their work had to be confessional. The theme allowed for the artists to present work that was full of emotion and very personal, without any other constraints.
The result? A wide variety of work which allows the viewers to engage with and relate to a very honest and raw exhibition. The works range from photography, sculpture, to live performances. The combination of these works with the gripping environment proved to be a unique and well received event.