Gray’s School of Art exhibition set to spark conversation

An exhibition featuring work which ranges from flotsam washed up on local beaches and urban detritus, to sculptures about the Highland Boundary Fault, a major geological feature running across Scotland, is set to open at Gray’s School of Art next week.

oonagh DevoyThe Art & Design Masters Degree Show will showcase the work of current graduating Masters students and those progressing into their second year, and will open at the art school on Monday, August 28 and running until September 7.

The exhibition features work from 10 full and part-time students who are studying the Masters Degree in Contextualised Practice course offered by Gray’s. 

The course has seen the students either develop their work within a studio setting or work collaboratively within organisations and communities.

Among the students who will be exhibiting is Oonagh Devoy, whose work is inspired by the coastline and the battle between man and sea.

“The flotsam and jetsam washed upon our shores is litter to some but treasure to me,” she said.

“Sea worn dunnage, carcasses stripped of their flesh, oxidised farm machinery cogs: treasure that can be found washed daily upon our shores. Each time I visit the beach I collect this treasure, enthused and excited by what others consider to be rubbish. This rubbish being my palette to produce my mixed media works.

“The work of artists such as Kurt Schwitters, Ben Nicholson and Braque are my inspiration. My love of colour, texture and unnoticed treasures is what moves me to create.”

Also looking forward to showcasing his work is Bruce Swanson, who is studying part-time and is half way through his two-year course.

Bruce’s interim Masters exhibit is based on the project he has been working on during the degree, which is an exploration of the Highland Boundary Fault, a major geological feature running across Scotland from Helensburgh in the South West to Stonehaven in the North East.

“I've been exploring this with different groups of people via a series of expeditions at sites on the fault and so far I've currently completed eight of these, with more planned.

“The work in the exhibition has been inspired by my discoveries on two of these expeditions - one to the White and Brown Caterthuns just south of Edzell, and the other to the River North Esk and the gorge walk that cuts the Highland Boundary Fault just north of Edzell.

“I've visited these two sites and made sketches, photographs, voice recordings and video recordings, which have contributed to the 2D and 3D work on display. The main themes of the work are to do with place, time and difference - in this case the striking geological and landscape changes that occur at the boundary.

“I've really enjoyed the Contextualised Practice Masters course so far, I'm a part time mature student and the opportunity to come back to university and study has been tremendous, opening up new and unexpected perspectives and ways of working.”

Student Peter Swales, whose work revolves around people’s interaction with the urban environment, is looking forward to showcasing the portfolio he has developed over the last year.

“My work is about the ways people interact with the urban environment, whether that be graffiti, vandalism or littering,” he said.

“I am interested in how we can view these in the light of 'art'- they often have an unintended aesthetic effect. So for example- council workers paint over graffiti with a roller and leave behind a 'minimalist composition' that was never intended as art but which can still be appreciated for its accidental beauty.

“A large part of my practice involves collecting found material from the streets - a form of litter picking. I then use these pieces to create collage and assemblage that references the graffiti, the vandalism, the accidental wear and tear that we find in the city.

“The MA course has been a valuable chance to focus on my practice after many years of making art in my spare time whilst working. I have been given the time, space and insightful critique from the staff at Gray's to reflect on my artwork and how I can improve upon it. I am envious of those part-time students who get an extra year to continue this process as at times, it has been a challenge studying full time.”

Course leader, Dr Jon Pengelly, added: “This year’s exhibition of Masters students’ work at Gray’s, represent a fascinating and wide range of works that communicate a series of thematic experiences and journeys which have had a significant and formative impact on these students current work and future ambitions.

“The work of each of the students on the Masters course, shows high levels of dedication, creativity and professionalism, in both their research, and creative practice, which is quite often produced and developed by necessity quite often between jobs, or in the spaces personally negotiated around students everyday lives.

“All the students have clearly demonstrated a very high level of commitment and ambition which is shown in the quality of the work they have produced.”

The Art Masters Degree Show will run from Monday, August 28 until Thursday, September 7 at Gray’s School of Art at the RGU Garthdee Campus. Opening hours are from 10am to 5pm. 


Release by Rob Smith
Communications Officer | Design and Technology
Press and Media Enquiries

Bruce Swanson