After School Activities was the playfully named intermedia exhibition showcasing the work of Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) fourth year students Katie Dibb, Amelia Tan, and Bethany Wood. The exhibition has a very cohesive feeling, with common themes running through many of the pieces. This was counterbalanced by the use of different mediums by each contributor, creating three distinct voices.
On the first wall was Dibb’s ‘Notebook series,’ a triptych of paintings, each reproducing a page from a notebook. Though the paintings themselves were not large, they had an interesting subtext. Through the careful replication of colours and accidental marks, they juxtaposed the immediate nature of jotting down one’s thoughts with the deliberate, considered act of producing a painting. This point could perhaps have been made still more evident had pictures of the originals been presented alongside them. The reproduction of unintentional marks continues in the ‘Underline series.’ These small, white pages were a little lost against the pale coloured walls, however this understatedness mimicked the series’ idea of things which are not the intentional focus taking centre stage.
Tan’s performance ‘Workin’ on the creak (creak off) A duel’ worked well with ‘Girls will be curtains’. Both pieces had a kind of viewer-led context. In ‘Workin’ on the creak’, two people standing across the room from one another holding an increasingly frenetic conversation through creaking floorboards transforms from curiously ritual to humorous, once the audience catches on to what is happening. The twin screens of ‘Girls will be curtains’ also contained repetitive movement and the idea of a piece of two parts, each giving the other context. One screen displays a looped video of tied curtains swinging on a bus, the other the same, but long haired girls replacing the curtains.
The inclusion of floor art in ‘Flower series’, Wood’s ‘wonky sculpture’ triptych, gave the exhibition depth and balance. There was something beguiling about the contrast between the rendering of a delicate flower and the use of Medium-density fibreboard (MDF) and irregular, skewed shapes. Yet the lack of description about the processes used to make the piece meant that the journey from living plant to sculpture was not immediately evident.The inclusion of more information would have given ‘Flower series’ more context.‘Mrs cowpat’, a printed poem on the wall, echoed parts of ‘Workin’ on the creak’ in its simple, give-and-take exchange heavy with suggestiveness.
Gallery 23 presents a challenge in terms of the space available; it is a big, rectangular room with a low ceiling and artificial lighting. However the artists played up the school-hall feel of the place; ‘Girls will be curtains’ was shown on the kind of tube-TV that might have been wheeled out to watch videos on in your school and pieces were displayed on plastic desk chairs.
Unfortunately, for those who did not attend, After School Activities ended on the 1 October, but if you missed out you can catch these artists’ work again at ECA and at further exhibitions within the year.
After School Activities
Photo credit: Bethany Wood