As a grad of NTU’s Fine Art course (I made an installation about memes and deservedly got a 2:2), it's always a treat to go back. This year's budding artists are still flinging paint, glitter and themselves around. In the course’s old tradition of “Show and Listen” sessions, we resisted reading the artists’ statements.
Food was definitely on the degree show flavoured menu this year. We found incorporated themes of branding, kitchen utensils, and even a vibrator wedged carefully into a croissant. A highlight was Hannah Ingrey’s “Battle of the Brands” – a supersized representation of branded food packaging, surrounded by fabric beans and ketchup splodges. It culminated in a performance by two orange-faced men wearing her giant Heinz Beans cans for a silent disco. Does Hannah just really love her weekly Tesco shop, or is something more satisfying going on here?
It culminated in a performance by two orange-faced men wearing her giant Heinz Beans cans for a silent disco.
Also in the “Fishbowl” area of the studios was an angular space-age structure that we couldn’t wait to explore. Inside was a sandy, rocky space evoking the surface of the moon – if you use your imagination. Caitlin Hickling’s “To Quench Its Parched Gullet” had all the joys of making footprints and staring out into darkness. Just you, alone with a spot lit sculpture resembling something between a robot and a lampshade.
Below the mezzanine, Athanasia Papathanasiou’s “Prop in a Showroom” incorporated a carpeted set of stairs and a Tim and Eric-esque video. We saw a kitsch shopping channel of depressingly compact objects – a tiny shelf to use for cooking (and much more) and said stairs; ideal for both hanging out on and reaching stuff. It came from the same dystopian hell as VICE’s “London Rental Opportunity of the Week”. With a top architect saying that millennials no longer need living rooms, maybe this is what we have to look forward to.
Next, a familiar face - earlier this year Christos Gkenoudis supported Sasha Velour at Nottingham Contemporary as their drag persona Mika the Alien. Before the performance “Immersive Femme”, we were all tempted to try on the array of costumes and strut around in projected pink light. We returned to a boiling hot room with a cheering audience, two glitter cannons and enthusiastic shouts of “Shantay you stay”.
Lastly, the strangeness inhabiting the blackout room did not disappoint. In almost total darkness, apart from a flashing light, were two abstract Lovecraftian masses bursting from two dressers. One black and one white, Christine Gregory’s sculptures were listed as being made from “wire, expanding foam and pain”. Accentuated by ominous wallpaper, her mix of unnerving atmosphere and nostalgia was the kind you find in good horror films. The piece’s title of “Scarborough Fair (Refrain)” was sung solemnly in the background.
Nottingham Trent University’s Fine Art Degree Show ran until Sunday 10th June.