Dundee Degree Show 2010

It's that time of year again, as Scotland's art schools roll out their graduate shows. Duncan of Jordanstone opened proceedings with their May exhibition, so The Skinny headed along to check it out

Feature by Ben Robinson | 27 May 2010

After last year’s sabbatical in the Greenmarket’s Vision building, the 2010 edition of Dundee’s degree show returns to its alma mater at the Duncan of Jordanstone college. Visitors to its labyrinthine corridors are seeking a crop of Fine Art graduates whose handiwork will likely be hidden away somewhere in a forgotten corner. You’re really best advised to collect a map from reception on the way in. One such example is the work of Chloe Windsor, whose cosmic arrangements of pyramids and assorted mystical offerings fashion a celestial gift from humble means, all buried deep within the bowels of the Matthew building’s sculpture workshops. Next door Anne Rachel Ward’s display presents an ersatz Eden, a menagerie of bloated birds of paradise, their forms crafted from metal and modroc, sharing floor space with a tree saturated in shiny bright bold gloss paint. Sir David Attenborough can be thankful for such a worthy tribute.

Away from all these natural and supernatural wonders, the Matthew’s renowned Time-Based Art department resides, housing the work of Stephen Bloe. His Research Laboratory of Electronic Progress gives us rickety spools of cut-up magnetic tape, their hums, whirrs, clicks and pops carrying happy echoes of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop’s auditory pioneers. The aesthetic is Doctor Who meets Drexciya by way of the garden shed and this surely is a good thing.

Elsewhere in the college, other artists seize their chance to reinterpret the everyday. Over in the Crawford corridor Neil Ogg’s installation combines striplighting, a wheelie bin and a wall of delicately rendered prints of tabloid front pages, their finely worked details a contrast to the hysteria glaring from the headlines. Similarly quotidian, downstairs Lyndsey Redford has made paintings on the insides of book covers and folders in a series entitled Thoughts On Everyday Life. Markedly more shadowy shapes are cast by Mary Somerville, who creates a quietly epic installation incorporating intricate model architecture and stop-motion animation. Her film of Sirius the Dog Star and a wandering, doddering Dog is an affecting, poetic amble around in the darkness. A more starkly pronounced anxiety pervades Fiona Gordon’s ink drawings and litho prints. Unruly black ink drips and smears across a dystopia of surveillance cameras, scissors and falling share prices, a malignant landscape of ruin.

As ever the sheer volume of art here can seem like a similar threat. Still, the cartoons of Sara Aziz provide a highlight of the show. Smart, dexterous black and white cartoons finished in a fine line and displayed either salon style or painted directly onto the gallery walls, we see two downtrodden figures standing waiting for a bus. One is marked ‘the smell of booze’, the other ‘the smell of curry’. It tickled my ribs, at least.