Joyful and Meaningful Work Excites at Central Saint Martins BA & MA Degree Show

It’s officially my favourite time of year: degree show season! And after kicking it off with a major bang at the fantastic Slade School BA/BFA show, I was anticipating a killer performance from Central Saint Martins BA and MA students too, who’s exhibition I had briefly previewed when I attended their Foundation Show. What can I say? I was not wrong. My visit last evening exceeded my expectations with innovative and fun works that really put the joy back in art.

From felted dogs humping in discreet corners, to a bathtub turned garden and replicated airline cabin complete with a not-so-typical safety video, I don’t think I’d be exaggerating to say that this show has it all, including some stunning painting and touching installation to boot.  Furthermore, it is clear the students this year did not shy away from risk, but rather embraced it wholeheartedly. This fearlessness is obvious in the work and makes for a compelling, innovative and thrilling few hours of art.

Title and Artist unknown (If you have this information, please let us know in comments)
Artwork by Emma Burns, 2015
Ben Cooper Walker, 'Melon,' 2015
Ben Cooper Walker, ‘Melon,’ 2015
Sarah Crew, 'Hilang Airways,' 2015
Sarah Crew, ‘Hilang Airways,’ 2015

I think Hanping Feng‘s ‘Field NO. 5‘ is possibly my favourite painting of the evening. Despite its’ small size, it really drew me in with its’ mastery of light and reflection and just generally cool vibe.

Hanping Feng, 'Field NO. 5,' Acrylic and collage on canvas, 2015
Hanping Feng, ‘Field NO. 5,’ Acrylic and collage on canvas, 2015

Another work I can’t get enough of is Katyayini Gargi‘s animation piece, ‘The Reiterators‘. My photo, of course, does not do it justice, but basically the work portrays what is going on in each room of a house or block of flats. So imagine the below image, but moving. I honestly couldn’t stop staring.

Katyayini Gargi, 'The Reiterators,' 2015
Katyayini Gargi, ‘The Reiterators,’ 2015

Although I had seen it already when attending the Foundation Show, BA Hugo Cantegrel‘s ground floor installation remains a standout in my view, as do Salome Partouche‘s series of self portraits in the form of arcade games.

Artwork by Hugo Cantegrel, 2015
Artwork by Hugo Cantegrel, 2015
image3 (18)
Salome Partouche, Various ‘Self Portraits,’ 2015

As I was leaving the exhibition, I stumbled upon a group of tiny portraits on a wall, each seeming to portray the same person. Within a few minutes, a man who I assumed was the subject was standing right beside me, so I spoke up and ended up meeting both him and the artist, Samuel Ivan Roberts.

Samuel Ivan Roberts, 'Reconstructions (Tim), 2015
Samuel Ivan Roberts, ‘Reconstructions (Tim), 2015

What I quickly learned, is that this work is not just a compilation of odes to Tim, (the subject), but rather a tribute to friendship, memories and human connection, and all inspired by the artist’s terrifying case of amnesia brought on by a bad fall.

When Samuel woke up from his coma, the first thing he finally remembered was a beach in Brighton, where he had visited with Tim right before his accident. And so for his degree show work, he asked Tim to help him recreate this moment on the beach, his very first memory after so much nothing.

What Tim did not know, was that simultaneously, Samuel was tracking down all 123 of he and Tim’s mutual Facebook friends and asking them to draw/paint/create a small portrait of their friend, Tim. And so 123 people’s own versions of Tim — their own fun-loving memories of the guy — come to life, alongside what is probably the artist’s most pivotal memory yet, the seascape of Brighton beach.

Samuel Ivan Roberts, 'Reconstructions (A Memory 19/06/2012), 2015
Samuel Ivan Roberts, ‘Reconstructions (A Memory 19/06/2012), 2015

Whilst I of course did not have a chance to speak with all the artists showing, I am sure there are a myriad of other pieces on view, which also contain personal and heartfelt stories such as Samuel’s. You can tell it by the depth of the work here; this isn’t just art, it’s art that lives and breathes.

– India Irving

Central Saint Martins BA/MA Degree Show is on view at Central Saint Martins until 31st May; 1 Granary Building, Granary Square, Kings Cross; Open Daily 12PM-8PM (Saturday & Sunday until 6PM); Admission: FREE

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