Monday, 13 June 2011

Staffordshire University AMD Show 2011

Show and Tell

Dr Astrid Herhoffer says she’s proud to lead a faculty where talent is nurtured and encouraged to grow. On the evidence of this year’s Arts, Media and Design show she has every right to be as, once again, Staffordshire University demonstrates the potential of art to surprise, inspire and transform lives.

From the outset the surprises come thick and fast provoking a range of responses. On the one hand there’s the restrained beauty of Margit Kiviniemi’s  painterly surfaces that appear to have rusted and the towering grandeur of Heather Silcock’s billboard-sized urban fox.
On the other hand there’s something  sinister about the text that is etched, filed and framed in Stacey Booth’s piece Welcome to the Wonderful World which plays on our willingness to share even the most personal thoughts on social media networks. Similarly unsettling is  Kristy Styles’ domestic chiller, La Maison Etrange,  which bristles with the kind of menace you might expect from David Lynch.

Debbie Mills with her exhibit Innocence. Photo by Horace Wetton

There’s also pathos and humour to be found. Debbie Mills’ childlike den, looking sadly abandoned, invites the viewer to crawl inside and hide from the crowds. Nearby, Rachel Bradley may be in the frame of her video projection but she’s also hiding –in this case masquerading as Ziggy Stardust – in a performance that’s both amusing and oddly affecting.

Elsewhere there are collapsing skyscrapers and chairs that appear to be climbing the walls but there’s much more to this comprehensive exhibition than fine art. With strong showings from across the faculty, ranging from textiles and ceramics to graphic design, I’d urge visitors to set aside the time to take it all in.

Of particular note is the Photography display. Among a hugely impressive offering two to look out for are Matthew Basham and Daisy Harper. Basham’s visceral work displays a streak of Surrealism while Harper’s sumptuous colour images exquisitely capture the fluidity of dance.

For all the departing students represented in the show this is the culmination of an exciting journey and the beginning of a new one. It’s been well documented in recent months that these are difficult times for the arts but lecturers Ian Brown and Sarah Key are confident Staffordshire University is prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. So too, you’re left feeling, are today’s talented graduates.       

The Art, Media and Design Show 2011 continues at Staffordshire University’s College Road campus until June 18.
A Version of this post originally appeared in the Sentinel Monday June 13 2011

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