Yes, it's that time of year when an art student’s fancy turns to degree show frenzy. As the smell of
drying paint and frazzled nerves wafts through corridors of demolished plywood and crazed janitors, Lila Rawlings and Gill Roth
check out some of the work on show at Glasgow and Edinburgh art schools this year. Photographs by Chris Blott.
the fabric of life
mbroidery and weave student Rachel Robarts was born and brought up in East Africa. Her beautiful rayon woven fabrics are full of the sumptuous colours that surrounded her as a child. Rich cobalt blue next to deep magenta next to sunflower yellow. ‘Colour is the most important aspect of my work. In Africa, you can see people wearing bright clashing colours, the way the clothes and colours are worn creates something very elaborate that I want to achieve in my work.’ she says.
Looking through her portfolio. it’s easy to see that Robarts is drawn to colour where ever she goes. Photographs of blood red poppies and ripe lemons scattered over bright pink fake fur, vie for space with snaps taken in the toilet of a Glasgow bar: ‘This is a door frame I liked, the colours are mad!’
Unrolling metres of shimmering fabric. she explains how the inspiration for this particular weave came from a vase of Chrysanthemums: ‘White sateen is used next to pale green rayon. white feathers and a sparkle of lurex. the pattern then varies slightly and repeats, kind of like a bunch of the same kind of ﬂowers.’ When her 35mm camera jammed. the result was in one half of the picture the colours appeared faded. ‘I used this for experimenting with how I could divide up cloth and use colours next to each other,’ she says.
Conscious of the fact that so many designers have used flowers for their inspiration, she sees it as her mission to ﬁnd a new way of communicating the same subject: “I want my work to have the feel of ﬂowers without being obvious.’ In a longer piece of fabric. a sheer pink weave is set against matt black. followed by lustrous navy and finished off with a wild ﬂurry of orange plastic trim created from placcy shopping bags! This is work that truly celebrates colour and is sure to make you want to throw out every bit of black you have in your wardrobe.
DEGREE SHOWS FEATURE
atie Ward has fun with ‘domestic’ objects. Her large colourful canvases feature repetitive patterns of bedside lamps, tea cups and best of all, Friesian cows. ‘l’ve always liked drawing everyday, mundane things, I like their simplicity.’ Using either a stencil or fine line drawings, Ward duplicates an object across her canvas creating a funky motif. ‘I like the idea of a painting as a pattern that could continue beyond the frame.’ she says.
During her second year at Glasgow, she decided to transfer from print making to painting because she wanted to develop a more direct. hands- on way of working. Her use of stencils and patterns is a sign that she hasn’t kicked her love of printing but rather transformed it into something altogether more painterly. Colour is another important element of her painting: ‘lt’s good fun using colour,’ she says. Working from colour laser copies, Ward reproduces her initial drawings on a photocopier. playing with the contrast until she has achieved just the right ‘smeary’ effect. Using these as inspiration, she works up her canvas using a variety of bright ‘acid’ colours that she then rolls and scrapes and manipulates. often using turps so that the colours merge into one another and the canvas takes on a weathered, beaten look. Sometimes, she waits until the ﬁnal layer of paint has been added before applying the stencils which produce an imprint. Other times, she’ll use the stencils on the first layer of paint so that they are worked up gradually more like a relief. For extra effect Spectragel (conventionally used by painters to make paint more translucent and thin) is dabbed on to give a transparent, ‘chunky’ varnished look.
What are her plans after graduating? ‘l’ve just heard that [’m to be next year’s social convenor,’ she says with a big grin. Hopefully she won’t be putting down her paint brush for too long. (Lila Rawlings)
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