The Skinny Showcase at Hill St Design House

For the second year, this August sees our graduate Showcase selection go live as part of Edinburgh Art Festival, this time in Hill St Design House in the centre of town

Gallery by Rosamund West | 28 Jul 2015

Last year our annual graduate Showcase came alive in Leith, as we brought together a select four graduates from Scotland's foremost art schools in a super-early-career exhibition in Creative Exchange. This year we return for a second outing, again as part of the Edinburgh Art Festival and now functioning as the even younger sibling of their Platform programme, which focusses on emergent artists. We've once again travelled the length and breadth of the land, to degree shows in Dundee, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh, to bring you our pick of each of the colleges' shows – an artist from each DJCAD, Gray's, GSA and ECA. They are Mary Watson, Laura Porteous, John Farrell and Alice Chandler, respectively.The exhibition is moving into the town centre, to Hill St Design House between Queen St and George St, a fittingly creative space filled with designer and creative agency studio holders. We've again been kindly supported by each of the art schools – their financial contributions have been essential in allowing us to see this project through for a second year. 

Laura Porteous is a painter who graduated from Gray’s School of Art. Her degree show has been selected for the 2016 RSA New Contemporaries.

“Spatial understanding and representation is the main concept behind my practice, and it is the research of this subject that determines the outcome of my works. A system-based approach is used where rules and guidelines play a key role throughout the entire process of making.

“Mondrian is a great influence within my work and my interest in the subject of spatialism. His limited use of colour in its purest form is clean and bold, only using primary colours (blue, red and yellow) as well as black and white. This is something I have adopted this year as it allows me to focus on other aspects of my work such as the effects of different materials and the process used to apply and manipulate them. Origami techniques applied to the paintings are mainly what create the effects displayed.

“Comprehending space and the fourth dimension, if it in fact exists, are regulative principles in my practice, encouraging viewers to consider the physical mass materials consume. Deterioration has become a significant aspect as it could be considered a visual representation of the fourth dimension, which many theorists believe to be time. Producing a work that can demonstrate age, or perhaps become a time based piece that transforms with duration is something I am keen to create.”

John Farrell is from Bellshill, Lanarkshire, and graduated from Fine Art Photography at Glasgow School of Art this year. He has been selected to show at the 2016 RSA New Contemporaries.

“I use traditional photographic materials, text, found objects, music and sound in my practice in order to explore a range of themes and interests that deal with memory, history and heritage. Much of my work explores these ideas by analysing the collective cultural experiences of language and music as a starting point for my work, beginning with works in direct relation to my hometown of Bellshill, Lanarkshire and Scotland in general. By exploring trace elements of these real or imagined histories and working in a vernacular way in terms of language and materials, I hope to expand upon and address some of these concerns, seeking out points of cultural conflict and forgotten or imagined histories. By working both physically and conceptually within this landscape and in my studio I am beginning to unravel these possibilities.”

Mary Watson graduated from Fine Art at DJCAD in 2015. Also becoming Lady Mary of Glencoe in February 2015, she then went on to found the ‘Lady Mary of Glencoe Awards Association,’ an organisation which acknowledges and gives merit to all talents that walk through life under-appreciated. You can see her Showcase here

“My work explores the competitive nature of human beings. I am particularly interested in how we invent activities to express our obsessions and how we use objects to embody or to encapsulate our competiveness. The ‘Prize’ represents the driving force behind our behaviour; it is the end goal and represents success. On a deeper level it is also a symbol of our self-conscious desire for validation and acceptance.

“Focused primarily on the more absurd competitions that capture people’s interest, my work highlights the arbitrary nature of these activities and the almost melancholy plight of the contestant. I am continually fascinated by how we distinguish what competitions are seen as culturally impressive and others that are seen as strange, almost pointless, highlighting the peculiar aspects of contestants’ personalities.”

Alice Chandler was born in Leeds in 1993. She completed her foundation degree at Leeds College of Art in 2012 and graduated from Edinburgh College of Art with a BA Sculpture in 2015. She has just been part of a group show at Hotel Elephant, in Southwark, London and her degree show has also been selected for the RSA New Contemporaries 2016 show. View her work in her Showcase here

"My work focuses on the way in which many, predominantly domestic, objects are instantly recognisable. By changing features such as colour, scale and material, I subvert these familiar characteristics and allow them to become full of implied innuendo, and loaded with uncanny connotations.

"Through research into material culture theory, I have developed an understanding of the way domestic objects are often taken for granted, only functioning in creating an exterior environment for us to inhabit. It is this background environment that helps to shape and define who we are as people, as it quietly comments on the nature of the society and culture that it comes from. When an object becomes removed from this background context, it begins to transform, becoming animated and fixed with personal meaning and associations.

"My work uses this as a way to reveal the potential hidden lives of inanimate objects, and contests the conventional layout or placement of the domestic setting. Through displacing the objects from their conventional context, I create things that are at once both functional and sculptural, with a hint of the absurd. Through careful selections of colour, material and placement, I also explore the flirtatious, seductive way that these seemingly banal products are often sold. The tactility, texture and colour of my materials, coupled with the use of a bold linearity, gives the work a drawn quality, and I consider my work to be a form of three dimensional drawing.

"In all, the work is accessible and fun in its nature, and I’m interested in creating undertones of humour. By using traditional sculptural mechanisms of placement and materiality, I elevate humble everyday objects and materials and tap into our natural object associations. This allows the audience to reconsider their own possessions, whilst subtly commenting on the quotidian rituals of domestic culture."

The Skinny Showcase, Hill St Design House, 3 Hill St, Edinburgh 31 Jul-23 Aug, 10am-6pm daily, free