Trees, swings and bouncy castles: University of Brighton Graduate Show aims for greatness

By Culture24 Reporter | 06 June 2013

Exhibition preview: University of Brighton Graduate Show, Faculty of Arts, Brighton, until June 12 2013

A photo of a female artist looking at a circular sculpture made up of loads of colours
Saskia Buchanan takes a look at her work© Andrew Weekes
When Saskia Buchanan’s grandfather died a week before her wedding, the heirlooms he left the 25-year-old 3-D Materials Practice prodigy included two cigar tins filled with nuts, bolts and screws.

“I was inspired by the colours, forms and objects,” she says, presenting a curvaceous kaleidoscope of colours filtered through the sunlight of a summer’s day at Brighton’s annual degree show.

“I decided to produce a body of work in ceramics and plastics, exploring the ideas of collecting and hoarding and the relationship between the two.”

Buchanan’s circle of colour, appearing as part of a show which deserves to follow in the footsteps of alumni such as Julien Macdonald and Rachel Whiteread, illustrates the “special connection” she had with her favourite hoarder.

Karol Michalec, meanwhile, took his ultra-personal vision to the streets. The sculptor toured the surrounding streets in an £800 outfit of sterile resuscitation pipes, feeding tubes and an ambulance bag, the better to show how “we nowadays trust more in medicine than we do religion.”

If he doesn’t get to meet every visitor to the show, it’s because 15,000 people are expected to have seen this quirkily inspiring hall of architecture, fine art, design and film in the south-east, relaxing in a kind of spiral-turned-zorb by Materials Practice artist Jessie Fleck, an idyll she defines as elementarily combining architecture, play equipment and sculpture.

Playfulness has proved popular for Lauren Alderslade’s luminous paintings of animals and humans united across dining tables.

“Lots of people have been taking snaps,” she says.

“They are giggling and smiling, which is what I had hoped for. I like bringing wonder out of people in a child-like way.”

And they probably jumped on Carly Mayer’s work, which resembles a bouncy castle and positively encourages shoe-ditching.

Elsewhere, Benjamin Bowe-Carter, a 21-year-old Fine Arts sculptor, looks like a sorcerer inside his piece, I Stay Faithful.

“It’s a reactionary piece as I leave university,” he explains, pondering an eternal creative conundrum.

“It comes from wanting to be a successful artist but, at the same time, intending to stay faithful to what I believe in.”

One of his fellow artists, Sheldon Stansfield, has her loyalties tied to elm trees stricken by Dutch Elm disease – specifically, a rotting local elm whose decapitation was halted by residential outcry.

“Originally I was told I could have the tree earmarked for felling as part of the road design at Seven Dials,” she says, of her Elm Tree Memorial garden seat.

“But protesters successfully preserved it. I hope the memorial highlights how much we have in the way of creative resources right on our doorstep.”

  • Open 10am-6pm (8pm Thursday and Friday, 12pm-5pm Saturday and Sunday). Admission free. Follow @artsbrighton on Twitter.

More pictures:

A photo of a female artist lying on a large white sofa
Carly Mayer© Andrew Weekes
A photo of a man in a gas mask
Karol Michalec© Andrew Weekes
A photo of a female artist standing on a ladder between two colourful paintings
Lauren Alderslade© Andrew Weekes
A photo of a male artist standing on a podium surrounded by foil walls and purple lights
Benjamin Bowe-Carter© Andrew Weekes
Sheldon Stansfield
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