On the homepage of this year’s Art, Design and Architecture Graduate Showcase from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, the Dean – Professor Anita Taylor – writes, “The showcase is a wonderful visual collection of inspirational and thought-provoking work.” This is true. It is a visual collection… more of a catalogue than an online exhibition, which feels like a bit of a disservice to the graduating students. Still, the quality of the work is as high as ever.
The Animation students have created a lovely short film ‘The Walk’, set in the Scottish Highlands, about a man and his dog. Every detail is spot-on; the opening birdsong, the subtle use of framed photographs, the song choice, the meet-cute, the changing haircuts to demonstrate time passing. Directed by Jade Crooks, the film also features the work of Sophia Austin, Lynn Biederer, Chloe Butchart, Millie Mara-Mackie and Aleksandra Szejko. There’s some strong character design work, particularly from Deborah Barker and her ‘Crazy Debbie’ comics, Abigail King (see her Sorceress Axolot), Natalie Litlekalsoy and her cats, the turtle character Midori by Millie Mara-Mackie, Molli Reynolds’ Cotton Candy Mage, and from Amy Kyle whose comic ‘Cinders’ deals with trauma and mental illness. One page of ‘Cinders’ really resonated with me – it shows the protagonist (presumably Amy herself) having gone home during a bout of depression and, plagued by feelings of inadequacy, saying to herself “But I don’t feel safe here”, which articulates well the way mental ill-health can sometimes mean not feeling safe in one’s own company.
In Art & Philosophy, Pete Cunningham’s project ‘Granny’ draws on her experience working with the elderly to paint a sensitive portrait of a woman with dementia, Danielle Naylor reclaims body hair, and Katie McCauley demonstrates a sophisticated understanding of pattern and its emotional power.
In Fine Art, Anna Blair paints soulful nudes, Stacey Carnegie uses mirrors to question assumptions about female beauty, William Cunningham paints the selfies he finds under the #feltcutemightdeletelater hashtag, Morgan Falconer uses digital collage to explore personal identity and the way make-up can be used to mask one’s true self, and Catriona Fraser partially destroys her paintings with wax to disrupt ideas of beauty and perfection. Sophie Glover’s proposed installation invites participants to ‘like’ each other’s selfies with wooden hearts – a visual representation of online popularity. Lucy Hutton’s poetic muses hold lines like, “I wanted to complete you / And call you ‘resolved’ / Maybe then I could explain you / Justify you / Use You / I ended up embarrassed and empty.” There’s Kayleigh Innes’s uncanny hands with their long, curly nails, realised in paintings and ceramics, Emily McNeill’s pastel escapism, Ellen Mitchinson’s distorted and abstracted figurative art, and Erin Neilly’s intriguing sculptures of expanding foam and concrete.
Finally, in Illustration, Kerry Fleming shares her tips for being a more responsible adult, Harriet Johnston explores existential exhaustion, Greg McIndoe uses bold, block colours in his book ‘Wilson Strange’ to discuss the connection between creativity and mental health, Rebecca Thomson considers shyness in her book ‘Quiet’, and Sorcha Tolland’s headless torsos invoke the Greek Gods. One highlight is Alice Prentice‘s project ‘The Risolution’. The little booklets tackle feelings, behaviour, physical manifestations, and thoughts and how, as Alice puts it on her website; “Being creative can be beneficial for mental health, especially working with something ‘hands-on’ like the Riso Printer.”
Browse at your leisure at www.dundee.ac.uk/degreeshow/2020 and see the next couple of pages for examples of the work mentioned.
By Ana Hine
N.B. Some members of The Queer Dot arts collective, of which I’m the co-chair, also graduated from DJCAD this year. Leah Cameron’s autobiographic book ‘Hungry, Neurotic, Vegan’ puts healthy vegan meals in context as the protagonist texts their mum after making a vegan version of the cheese sauce from their childhood. Hunger is personified in Shawna Milligan’s frantic and flamboyant work (my favourite is her ‘I’M GOING TO EAT IT’ painting, with its sinister pale blue fingers and dripping text). Morgan Black even won a prize – The Sandra McNeilance Memorial Prize for Painting and Drawing, for their Alasdair Gray-esque comic series ‘Sinister Rouge’. I’m so proud of them!