REFRESH is the product of a collective of six artists who all graduated from Gray’s School of Art. It is their second exhibition that they have constructed together. It demonstrates how artists with the same training, who have followed the same path, can each approach a diverse range of materials from a ‘fresh’ and new perspective. The interaction of their works and how they relate and contrast is the focus of the show, producing a form of artwork outside of the physical.
Each artist approached the topics of personal relationships, self – identity and a person’s place within their surrounding environment, from a different angle. These wide-ranging viewpoints support and contradict, impacting upon the spectator’s viewing experience. We become spectators of their personal experiences and alternative worlds which in turn cause the viewer to contemplate their own reality.
Katie H. Watson’s work looks at the progressive domestication of the wilderness as humans intervene in physical ways and with their mental associations of memories or stories. The luminous yellow tent speaks to the physical human presence at the heart of Nature as it tames the threatening powers of the unknown surroundings. By contrast, Izzy Thomson looks to a world where Nature has taken over and humanity fades away like the house hidden by the trees and her pointillist technique breaks up the image.
There is a playful quality to the exhibition as the artists explore their medium. It brings into question how we inhabit this world and our place in the hierarchical order. Josie Hudson seeks to flip the anticipated answer to these ideas as she looks at alter-egos and how other people’s attitudes can influence social identity. Through ‘You’ she becomes her male persona, visually aligning herself with masculinity by attaching hair to her face. There is a vindictive and angry feel to this as the voiceover blames an anonymous figure for self-doubt and insecurities. It is immersive and incorporates the viewer who is directly being spoken to.
The concept of interacting works that converse with each other, supporting and facilitating their ideas, is an interesting one. However, the curation was slightly awkwardly executed and did not achieve this idea to its full potential. This is due to the somewhat confusing layout as the exhibited items were too spaced out and in separate rooms not allowing for them to interrelate properly.
In spite of this, the exhibition does achieve the artists’ desired goal; to support and help each other grow collectively. It is this lack of self-interest and instead the ambitious praise and support of each other that makes this group of artists stand out. The exhibition is definitely worth a visit to gain a glimpse into different perspectives and mindsets.
Photo: Ella O’Neill