There is work from about 86 students in the catalogue, which is without page numbers. I take an hour and a half to see it plus a performance after lunch. No prices are next to the works.
I start to notice what there isn’t; no overt politics, scarcely a mention of feminism, no climate change, very little autobiography, nothing about Falmouth.
I go through the catalogue later, trying to classify the work. The largest category is work with abstract use of materials. Then it’s nature, surrealism, myth, nostalgia, and calm mood.
One mentions social ills, one is luridly sexual, two relate to sport, there’s a tiny bit of science and technology, the body, self understanding.
One is very like Basquiat, several have unintelligible bullshit in their statements.
Are today’s high fee paying intake less rebellious? From a different sector of society, as the poor don’t get enabling grants?
One of my favourites is a short performance by a Hong Kong student, Darren Chung in which he introduces five of us to the Cornish names of various colours, getting us to guess which is which, pointing out that to make for example the Cornish for pink you put white and red together – gwynnrudh. It’s lighthearted, interactive and links to Cornwall.
A student called Oak Matthias has made an enormous finely crafted wooden, egg which I find out later it is possible to sit within as an experience of being alone in the world.
Maria Manini has a kitsch room with 50’s music and TV clips, huge squishy pink animal cushions etc. It’s fun, it’s not tackling life’s problems, more decadent sugary escapism.
Bianca Cocco has made a project connected to the pearl making industry but links it to ideas like the possibility of an irritant being a productive part of society. She has a booklet which makes this clearer and uses video, diagrams and various materials in her environment. She is my favourite because her scope is wide, her intention to question the way things are.
I emerge with my senses awakened, noticing stuff, thinking and feeling more vividly. It’s hardly surprising young students aren’t very clear, – there’s a sense of trying things out. How many can possibly make a living through their art?
Nevertheless, the years at art school will have been of value.

Mary Fletcher

Volume 33 no 6 July/August 2019 p 31

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