The RSA selection panel has travelled the length and breadth of the land to scope out the degree shows and bring together the cream of the crop to make and present new work for the stately surrounds of the gallery on the Mound. The Skinny has put together a short guide to some names to look out for this year
It is perhaps a mark of how many opportunities there actually are for emergent artists these days that several of the names on display in this year's selection are already familiar. Omar Zingaro Bhatia, Rachel MacLean (does a month go by that The Skinny doesn't mention Rachel? No, we've decided that it doesn't) and Jamie Fitzpatrick are just some of the recent graduates who have already been exhibiting across the country, wisely capitalising on that degree show buzz and keeping on making and pushing hard to get their names out there. We can't predict who's going to have made what for this year's show, but we can present a small selection of ones to watch.
Jamie Fitzpatrick recently cause controversy exhibiting his taxidermy-based work in veggie haven the Forest Cafe. His work was vandalised by outraged visitors who hadn't taken the time to digest his greater point on the dangers of genetic modification. This is not entirely surprising. Let's hope the sculptures escape a similar fate in the RSA.
Omar Zingaro Bhatia's Spuriosity Shop was a hit at the Dundee degree show. The installation, a cluttered room part junkshop, part archive, part gallery of drawings and paintings, alluded to themes of cultural identity while simultaneously mocking such narrow definitions of character. Those fortunate enough to have encountered the artist in situ were treated to a presentation from a somewhat eccentric individual in keeping with the proprietor of a junkshop of personal memorabilia. His unique brand of madness is expected to be brought to bear in the RSA in truly entertaining style.
Catriona Gilbert's work explores myth and shamanic ritual, and includes photography, drawing, costume and skulls made out of sugar. She made a giant feather cloak for the degree show, entitled Freya and Daedalus, and took photos of someone crawling in the undergrowth wearing it.
Rachel MacLean will be a name familiar to regular Skinny Art readers. She's exhibited so widely and so prolifically that it's sometimes hard to remember that she graduated less than a year ago. With recent works including musings on the colonial implications of bananas, who knows what warped technicolour will appear in New Contemporaries.
Harriet Lowther's Big Thank You project was one of the highlights of Glasgow's degree show. In a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the gods of the consumer world, the artist displayed row upon row of framed thank you letters sent to brands from Clarins moisturiser to Seven Seas Cod Liver Oil, alongside the surprisingly warm responses received from the giant corporations grateful for a moment of humanity in their presumably soulless days. It's a rare work of depth, warmth and humour, so we're looking forward to her NC contribution.
Jessica Ramm was our pick of the Dundee degree show all the way back in June, with delicate drawings, Tinguely-influenced kinetic sculptures and lightbulbs with angel wings inside. She's been working away ever since so expect new work with a poetic sensibility.
Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, from 3-21 Apr, £tbchttp://www.royalscottishacademy.org/