New Contemporaries 2012 @ RSA, 17 Mar-11 Apr

Review by Rosamund West | 29 Mar 2012

Now in its fourth year, RSA New Contemporaries brings together a select group of fine art graduates from Scotland's five art schools (Edinburgh, Glasgow, Duncan of Jordanstone, Gray's and Moray) nearly a year after graduation to present work new and old in the grand neo classical surrounds of the Royal Scottish Academy on the Mound.

Aimed specifically at enabling and fostering the development of artistic careers, NC has amassed an impressive catalogue of artists in the few years that it's been running, and the gallery have created a network which continues to grow, setting NC alumni up with opportunities for exhibitions, residencies and even selling work. Says RSA Director Colin Greenslade, “The legacy over the last few years with those artists is amazing for us. Come June and the selection of the next batch of graduates that will be 300 selected for New Contemporaries. Even just the catalogues combined form an amazing encyclopedia, a snapshot of artists over that 5 year period.”

So what of 2012's array of emerging practice? As always there is a wide variety of work on display, from the traditional worlds of painting and printmaking to the more avant garde works in video and performance, as evidenced by Skinny prize winner Romany Dear. There is a relatively large quantity of photography, of particular note being Tom Hatton, whose bleached out prints of people-less North African landscapes are both beautiful and timely.

Downstairs, Manuela De Laborde's small-scale kinetic sculptures prove entrancing. One, Chroma, in the Projects Room, is a series of mechanically spinning coloured metal wires, delicate as hummingbirds and generating a gentle breeze as they buzz around. Untitled (turning gold ink) is a subtle intervention, embedded in the wall of the gallery and, as the name would suggest, featuring a slowly turning glass jar of golden ink.

In the next room, The Creative Services of Hugo de Verteuil and Ian Rothwell present an intriguing development on their degree show collaboration, an accomplished installation featuring a small cinema and a bar serving martinis that opens every afternoon for a limited service period. Interactive. Dundee grad Rose Hendry's series of short films proved a hit at the degree show. The production values are high, the works glossy moments of technicolour frivolity.

Upstairs, indeed on the way up the stairs, Sarah Hardie's delicate sound installation I'm Calling is a beautifully placed welcome to the galleries, but could well be sending the door staff slowly mad through repetition. In the upper galleries, stand out works include Andrew Mason's Potato Fountain, which has proved quite a hit with visitors and academicians alike, and Hannah Imlach's Origami Shelter, delicate yet physically substantial, a paper shelter photographed in the unlikely situation of Rannoch Moor. As a whole, the show presents a refinement of the chaos of the degree show, and reflects the wide array of talent that emerges year on year from Scotland's art institutions. [Rosamund West]


RSA, Edinburgh, 17 Mar-11 Apr, £4 (£2)