Anne Hamlyn reviews this year’s Degree Show at Glasow School of Art.
A major innovation in the appearance of this year's Glasgow School of Art Degree Exhibition is the integration of the five main disciplines ofthe Fine Art Department: Painting. Sculpture. Printmaking. Photography and Environmental Art. Ever since the dramatic rise to fame of Steven Campbell. Peter Howson et al. the school has been dominated by the prestige and high media proﬁle of the painting department. The layout this year has been adjusted to rectify this imbalance but it is also a radical attempt to integrate the different ﬁelds and bring fine art education into line with broader developments in contemporary art .as the boundaries between one medium and another appear to be increasingly tenuous. The question is. has it worked. and how does the approach of the School of Fine Art measure up to the more clearly defined disciplines of the applied arts. still given the comparatively un-p.c. title - The School of Design and Craft?
In many ways it seems that the applied arts have benefitted most from the breaking down of boundaries between high and low art and more pluralistic approaches to art education. This is proved by the amazing variety of approaches in a department like Printed and Knitted Textiles which turns on its head associations of Laura Ashley and Osbourne and Little. Alister Mackie has. for example. printed startling images of hypoderrnics. chains and credit cards onto luxurious velvets and silks. The installation-orientated work of Emily Bates of Embroidered and Woven Textiles. uses human hair and embroidery to gently criticise the traditional associations of textiles and tresses with femininity. Typically. this work shows a clear understanding of the medium and how to stretch its meaning and potential. Unfortunately this is an ability which. more often than not the fine artists lack.
Graeme Wilcox‘e photo-realist images investigate the native of mummy, Fine Art.
Across the road in the famous Mackintosh building Dawn Grey has sucessfully captured the intimacy of the relationship between craft and fine art. approached from the other side of the divide. Her paintings use the starting point of patchwork quilts to
I address ideas ofthe feminine. the family and the ‘ religious in evocative. glowing collages of old
photos. ﬂowers and fabric stitched and painted onto the canvas. Mungo McCosh is another who has understood and adapted his medium — Environmental Art — with ingenuity and originality. by applying familiar painted images. such as the cherry symbols from fruit machine. like labels to the walls of derelict and condemned buildings in and around Glasgow. There they act as a playful commentary on the superficiality of marketing campaigns such as the ‘Glasgow‘s Miles Better' and the embellishing purposes for which they use art.
‘ ‘ln mm... a m woven out or m in: by Entry Bates, Embroidered and We Textiles.
Most marked in the newly-integrated Fine Art Department exhibition is a general move towards installation from each ofthe individual disciplines. This. though a potentially liberating tendency. has actually resulted in a show in which much of the work fails to realise the full potential of its materials and is consequently repetitious and predictable. it is hard when the boudaries are broken down. when you can do absolutely anything and call it art. to find a concrete foundation from which to build and which
the audience is able to latch on to. When after two and a halfhours, and falling upon yet another
undiscovered studio. my companion groaned. ‘if I
have to read another piece of post-modemist text or look at another piece of latex I’m going to die.‘ I had to sympathise.
Annual Degree Show I993 is a! Glasgow Sr'ltrml of Ar! until Friday 2 July. !
The List 2—l5 July 1993 51