The Grey People’s inaugural annual exhibition brings together a cross-fertilisation of many different artistic and intellectual disciplines, forming a melting pot of inspirational art and even more inspiring creators. Transcending the boundaries of discipline and schools, the exhibition showcases the communication of complex, abstract ideas through creation: ideas that cannot be contained in just the one box. This freedom and fluidity between different practices gave the exhibition a unique energy, provoking an exciting atmosphere full of potential for this inclusive progression of art practice.
The sheer diversity of the artwork on show, with its sources, inspirations, processes and results, was almost overwhelming. However, by accompanying every piece with a small description, written by the artists themselves, each project was made accessible whilst still remaining open to interpretation.
As an outsider, ignorant of the intricacies and distinctions between artistic practices and processes, I found these descriptions insightful, particularly as many of them revealed the myriad of motivations and complexity of inter-disciplinary work behind the finished product. This complexity was not limited to the art realm; literature, cultural practices and sciences, such as biology and astronomy, are to name but a few unexpected stimuli.
A particular highlight was the work of Aurélie Fontan, a Fashion student whose background in Fine Art and Design led her through a multitude of disciplines to biology. Fontan worked closely with the ASCUS lab at Summerhall to create slime moulds, a type of fungi. She then used the evolution of this fungi as the basis for her design of a coat. I felt privileged to follow her journey through such a wide range of practices.
The Grey People was founded a year ago by three students in their first year of study: Alys Gilbert and Samuel J H Froggatt, who are on the MA Fine Art programme, and Jo Rüβmann, a student on BA Illustration. The initiative was born out of their mutual interests in naturally working across disciplines within their own practice. At the time they didn’t know how the platform would evolve. Since then, they have been overwhelmed by support from both staff and fellow students, demonstrated in the exhibition with works by Art and Design students, tutors and even a couple of PhD students. At a time when collaboration and opening doors is of real importance at ECA, The Grey People have found their own niche.
This is the initiative’s first exhibition, and it definitely captured the diversity and inter-subjectivity they hoped to achieve. The pieces themselves were exciting and thought-provoking in their different ways of combining disciplines in order to accurately represent ideas. This was emphasised by the performances throughout the exhibition, including the Choiry Choir of ECA and Froggatt, one of the co-founders, going through a box of treasured items.
This was an exhibition celebrating the very essence of art, giving those who submitted a chance to celebrate their work for its interdisciplinary qualities. United in their search for freedom of expression, all of the artists supported and encouraged each other to practice in ‘the grey space’, to create work unbound and unlimited in its process, message and outcome. The purity and diversity of the pieces presented reflects the passionate subjectivity of art and the individualism that arises from this. As fascinating as this was to see in the art itself, the pride of the artists themselves, unconfined by boundaries, was even more inspiring.
The Grey People: Exhibition One
ECA Sculptor Court
Photo credit: Alys Gilbert