The Glasgow School of Art’s Master of Fine Art Degree Show is currently on display at the Glue Factory, Glasgow. Twenty-six students graduate from the prestigious MFA programme which holds an international reputation as one of the UK’s leading postgraduate fine art programmes. It’s this reputation which continues to attract students from all corners of the globe; bringing with them a range of interests, experiences and cultures which adds an extraordinary dimension to the programme.
Central Station’s own Project Coordinator, Kim highlights a selection of works on display:
Wandering through the Glue Factory, I can’t help but notice how great a venue it is for a huge group exhibition such as this. Having been here several times before, I soon realise the material of the building stood out more than previously because so many artists have successfully created site-specific works, respecting and (in some cases) enhancing the fabric of the building.
John Calcutt (MFA Programme leader) kindly gives me a brief intro to the show, showing me all the nooks and crannies the students have used to display their works. I immediately encounter Norwegian multi-disciplinary artist, Vigdis Storsveen’s large wax sculpture which hangs from the ceiling as you enter the building. Vigdis also has a ‘metal forest’ on display upstairs, resembling fragments from trestle tables.
Maria Toumazou’s work literally stands out with maze-like structures emerging from the walls. I am particularly drawn to the one pictured above as it holds an especially eerie quality in the darkness with beautiful contrasting textures – lambswool, wood and ceramic.
The unmistakable sounds of strong Québécois voices come from Sarah F. Maloney’s video piece – Gagnon-Ville you’re my Dearest. Maloney’s video explains the closure of Gagnon-Ville, a mining city in Québec which was completely torn down when the mines closed. This short piece becomes a melancholic ode to a city most have never heard of.
Jack Cheetham explores people as commodities using 3D printed ceramic models. An iPad sits on an unusual shelving unit and plays ‘fake’ CCTV footage of the models in a shopping mall along with the occasional tannoy announcement.
Mangled and contorted forms in Fanny Wickström’s sculptures with enlarged genitalia and extra limbs is reminiscent of the Chapman Brothers‘ works. Mixing humour and the grotesque, green painted fingers grow from the ‘garden’ and a scrotum earring hangs from an oversized human ear.
Aniara Omann’s altered replica of an Easter Island Moai figure is slightly hidden upstairs. The imposing structure becomes somewhat less intimidating as a playfully raised eyebrow shifts the viewer’s first impression. Complimenting the figure in a bizarrely appropriate way are two videos which include Arnold Schwarzenegger discussing his life and body.
Emily McFarland’s reversal of cult film, Zabriskie’s Point approaches film as a ready-made, in a similar manner to GSA alumnus Douglas Gordon. McFarland reappropriates found footage by reversing the main explosions, crashes and fire elements in the film; creating a poetic composition.
Stephanie Burt’s mixed media installation is aesthetically titillating from every angle. Amazingly, Burt also succeeds in portraying the installation as an accident, with shards of glass on the floor and torn chicken wire across its frame.
The building serves Kirsty Palmer’s work particularly well with her flaky, fragile sculptures mirroring the edifice’s degenerative qualities. Icelandic artist, Selma Hreggvidsdottir creates a “Shrine” inside the building, revealing and celebrating a neglected space with exposed brickwork and cobwebs aplenty. Selma highlights this again in the adjoining space where a video ‘through a keyhole’ plays in a room where a divider wall is papered with a white brickwork pattern.
On its surface, the Glue Factory still appears a bit battered and bruised from years of neglect. However, it’s precisely this history which makes it the perfect venue for this year’s MFA graduates who have the energy and diversity to bring this building back to life.
The exhibition continues at The Glue Factory, 15 Burns Street, Speirs Locks, Glasgow G4 9SA until 22 June. A selection of works from MFA 2011-2014 is also on display at citizenM Glasgow until 28 June.
Words and photos by Kim Stewart
Please visit here for more Degree Show reviews on Central Station.