… the final degree show is over; in fact the MA is over.
The last few weeks have been quite a whirlwind, so here is a recap. First, getting the spaces ready for the show and then installing the work. As ever, there is a surprising amount of graft involved in putting together a show. Most work goes up pretty much as planned, but there are always some glitches and those take the time. It’s a group show, so you want everyone’s work to look good. And very few people can install work on their own; certainly I can’t. I was lucky to be showing in a small room space, which I was able to plan in advance, but we all needed a little help from our friends.
This is what my work looked like once installed. I had made the long drawing, A True Story, in my studio and I wrote about the practicalities of making a piece that gets so big you can’t even see it in an earlier blog here. The result was that the first time I actually saw the whole thing was when I had installed it. ‘How exciting!’ said my colleagues. Hmmm … that’s one way of putting it.
We had to make a presentation about our research and our work to the assessors on Tuesday 5 September and that was the last bit of academic work. The Private View on Thursday 7 September was a chance to show family and friends what we’ve been up to for the last 2 years. Even I was all talked out by the end of the evening, but it is interesting and often gratifying to get an unmediated response from people who would say of themselves ‘I don’t know anything about art’. Some of my friends reflected my intentions back to me in their own words, confirming that I had managed to convey something to them.
On the closing day of the show, there was a DR@W event – a tour of the show led by Isobel Seligman, Bridget Riley Fellow at the British Museum Prints and Drawings Department. Her role is to encourage and facilitate greater public access to the BM’s vast store of drawings through the ages. She had organised our visit to the Department in February and so this event gave her a chance to see not only our final degree show, but also the work we and some of the MA Painting students had made in response to the drawings we saw on our visit.
I went to a similar event during the final MA show last year and, once again, it was noticeable how much more relaxed the graduating students were when talking about their work, compared to the pressures of the assessment presentations. And Isobel brought to her questions and the conversation an immense breadth of knowledge about drawing and its history. She said that she rarely gets to see the outputs from student visits to the Department, and seemed delighted to get the chance for once.
This event made the perfect end to the show: it allowed us to mark the closure of the show and in effect of the course, giving us a last chance to discuss our work in front of a friendly audience and to acknowledge how far everyone had come in developing their practice.