For part of our summer projects we were asked to visit a degree show and review it. Unfortunately I was unable to make it to a major London show however I did go to the University of Portsmouth show on the 3rd of July. The show was entitled ‘Faculty Of Creative And Cultural Industries Graduate Show 2016’ and although it’s a very long title is does state exactly what the exhibition is rather than a shorter title which might not be as effective. The accompanying publicity material was also very effective and visually appealing. The logo was mainly typography based but was easy to read and from my online research I saw that it was used as a t shirt design and worked very well.
One of the initial things that came to mind when I first entered the building was how hard it was to find my way around. There were no signs in the foyer of the building indicating where each section of the show was except for at the bottom of the stairs, still with no arrows. After asking at reception I was told that the Graphic Design portion of the show was in the basement which was a little walk away through a small dark corridor. I did enjoy the fact that each faculty was in it’s own teaching space however I feel like in this instance it was probably inappropriate as it meant that the whole show was extremely spread out and the space in between was no involved making it feel like lots of separate shows. I do understand that I did not go on the opening night and from the images i’ve seen there was a lot more going on such as bands and a fashion show which probably would have taken up the whole space and made it feel more inclusive, however I do believe that the whole show should work together for it’s entire run.
In terms of the actual exhibition areas, I viewed three different faculties in the exhibition: Graphic Design, Fine Art and Illustration. This was mainly due to the fact that each area was so spaced out like previously mentioned. Each area had a lot of space which worked well as nothing felt cramped at all however, each area had it’s positives and negatives.
The Graphic Design area was really well executed and the work was at such a high standard it was really inspiring. The logo on the door was a great start to the exhibition as it was a really nice design that looked very professional. All the work on the walls was structured well and all fit within the same template which is similar to what we did for our last exhibition. The only thing I though was that on some of the walls there was a lot of work which would have looked a lot less crowded if it was spread out slightly more but unfortunately all the walls were covered so they had a lot of space constraints. I did really like the glass tables they had showing work as it was a way to have it out while ensuring it wasn’t damaged, however it was nice to touch some of the other works that were out which made it a good balance.
One of the things I absolutely adored in this part of the exhibition was the way each of the students business cards and resumes were set out on a bookcase (as shown in the images above.) It was an amazing way to show off the students individuality as well as giving them a chance to show themselves off to the potential clients that came to see the show. You could really see each personality in each square of the bookcase.
The fine art exhibition was my least favourite part of the whole exhibition mainly down to the fact that each person had their own area but they weren’t evenly spread out between each piece and some of them had a lot more space than others which meant that some of the good pieces felt very left out. For example, one of my favourite pieces was some work hung up towards the window (shown in the above images.) To me it looked amazing however it was very much not a focus point of the exhibition. There was also no name labels next to each piece of work which for me, as a design student, was quite disheartening as it should be easy to link a piece of work to the artist rather than having to go back to the start and read the large labels.
I did really like the writing on the floor though as it gave the show a much more personal feel and showed a side to some of the pieces that probably wouldn’t have shown through without having it. I do think that on some of the pieces it should have been kept away from the work (ie. only written on the ‘path’) as it did take away from some of them.
The illustration section of the exhibition was right opposite the Fine Art area and by far my absolute favourite. Not only because the work was at such a high standard but the displays and curation was absolutely outstanding. When you first walked in there was bunting, business cards and envelopes and letters hung from the ceiling (shown above). There was also another bookcase, much like the one from the Graphic Design show but this time full with small bits of work from each student, giving you a taster before actually entering. Unlike the Graphic Design area however, all other tables and working areas in the room had been moved or blocked off, making the first one out of the three that felt like a professional exhibition as soon as you walked in.
Each student had exactly the same area and each one had been completely customised for however they were choosing to display their art. Some of my favourite areas are shown in the images above. Another thing I absolutely adored about this faculties show was that most students had portfolios, books and many other bits of work out to look at if you would like. For me, as a student, this was something I loved due to knowing how much work goes into projects like those that were shown. There was also more than one piece of work from each student which I know is very much dependent on the subject area and project but it forced me to look at everything and made it look much more visually appealing and engulfing.
There was also a great selection of things for potential clients. Not only did most students have business cards etc. in their areas (my favourite are shown above) but there was also a shop at the end of the room which featured work from almost every student. They also had a sign in the students area if their work was in the show which I thought was a nice feature as it made me not only want to go to the shop at the end but made me look forward to it and keep an eye out for the bits that were from some of the students I loved.
Overall I did really love going to the show, not only because of the amazing work but because it was such an eye opening experience that I know will help me curate my own shows. The main thing i’ve taken from this is that when I plan a show I need to make sure it is completely clear where the different faculty areas are, how to get around and that this continues past the private view evening. I also want to make sure that all the work is clearly labeled and that as much work as possible is on show. If my show works as well as the illustration portion of the show then I will be extremely happy.
Check out more about the Faculty Of Creative And Cultural Industries Graduate Show 2016 here, and Portsmouth Uni here.