Student Spotlight: Manchester School of Art

by Cass Art

It is Degree Show season, and Cass Art is casting a student spotlight across several of the UK's student exhibitions.

Manchester School of Art, partnered with Manchester Metropolitan University, teaches a variety of artistic disciplines and always results in a dynamic final show.  We spoke to a selection of this year's student exhibitors - Ray Martin, Ian Malhotra, Camilla Willot and Natasha Price -  to find out what's in store for the MMU Degree Show 2014. 

How has your process developed since studying at MMU? 

Ray (Painting): My process has developed and changed throughout my degree, from experimenting with set up sculptures and community performance, to oil painting which now works on a large scale.

Ian (Drawings and prints): My process has become a lot more thought-out and focused. I no longer do through-away sketches, but instead put 100% into every drawing so it can fully articulate an idea and lead me to the next. 

Camilla (Painting): I have grown so much as an artist; I started painting from photographs trying to get my paint work as accurate as the photo in front of me. But I know have developed to what I call 'painting the painting', where I can create concept and narrative. I learnt to understand the technical way to apply oil paint, its processes and elements, so I could continue to break rules and create textures. 

Camilla, MMU

Natasha (Video): To begin with I thought I was going to be a painter, as that was what I had always known. Each time I learnt a new skill, such as printmaking, photography or videography I began to develop and learn how to express things using these mediums. It was less of a decision and more of a natural adjustment that brought me onto video work.  

What should we expect from Fine Art at the MMU Degree Show 2014? 

Ray: You should expect variety, ambition, innovation and a display of three years worth of self exploration from the degree show this year!

Ian: There's a huge amount of variety both in the mediums used and the themes being explored. All the work is well made and has strong ideas that it's trying to explore behind it. Personally, from looking around the studios, I think the paintings this year are fantastic. 

Camilla: I personally have a great space for the show, I have three decent size walls where I will be able to exhibit three maybe four paintings. I don't want my space to be too crowded with paintings; sometimes I find less can be more. 

Natasha: There will be such a huge range of work at the MMU Degree Show that it's hard to describe. I'm in with the other students who are showing videos - so there will be a lot of dark spaces. My work is a playful exploration into the idea of both emotional and physical tension and how to create it - so with my work there's a lot of 'waiting for something to happen'.  

What will you be exhibiting? What materials and process did you use? 

Ray: I plan to exhibit a number of paintings, ranging from 2 and a half meters squared in scale, to 15cm squared. Each of the paintings I plan to show are intended to be read differently, using different visual languages. Although different the exhibition space is to be curated so that the paintings convey a uniform feeling. 

Ian: I will be exhibiting a performance piece focused around drawing. As I'm exploring ideas of the digital world and mechanical simulacra I have drawn a drawing using dots and dashes and translated it into morse code. This code will be read from a desk at one end of the room to another desk at the other end, where a person will retranslate the letters into the dots and dashes, drawing them out to recreate the drawing sent over the space. The performance then parodies the instant digital transfer of visual information e.g. a printer in a labour intensive, analogue process. 

Ian, MMU, The Flood

Camilla: A series of figurative paintings, all painted in oil on half chalk ground canvas. My favourite oil paints are Michael Harding and Old Holland, they cripple my bank card, but it's definitely worth it! The pigment quality is amazing and gives a brightness to my paintings. 

Natasha: I will be exhibiting a video and a series of photographs. There is so much to know about videography! Every time I rent a camera, or try to edit a video on Final Cut Pro, something will go wrong - and I will have to work my way around it. It is very satisfying to notice yourself improving. My video pieces are sort of a documentation of me working in the studio, it gives me a lot of freedom to play about, so that's fun.  

Natasha, MMU

What's up ahead in the future for you guys forging a creative career? 
Ray: My intention for the future is to continue producing work in Manchester, renting a studio and hopefully at some point down the line begin a Manchester based project with Arts council funding in order to make it easier for young artists in Manchester to establish themselves.

Ian: After we finish university I think we will have to face the real world! Getting a job to support hiring a studio space and working whenever possible. Hopefully a group of us will get a studio together and carry on the good atmosphere from this year. 

Camilla: I am taking a year out from education after finishing my BA so I can have a year to develop myself further as an artist before I go to do an MA in 2015. I'm hoping to be able to attend my MA at The Royal College of Art or The Glasgow School of Art. 

Natasha: I'm going back to Edinburgh, and I want to get a studio and continue to make things - however I've been considering trying some more practical based artistic work. I change my mind every few months though so who knows what I'll end up doing.  

Feeling inspired? 

Buy Camilla's favourite Michael Harding paint, grab some Graphite Pencils to focus on drawing like Ian, or shop our Lomography range in our Islington Flagship to get creative with cameras like Natasha. 

For more information regarding MMU Degree Show, running from 14th-25th June, visit their website or follow them on Twitter

View the websites from the featured artists: Camilla, Natasha, Ian and Ray

Shout about your own degree show and artwork by taking part in our student competion - upload photos of your work to Twitter or Instagram with the hastags #CassArt #StudentSpotlight. All work will be featured on our homepage and one lucky student will win £500 to spend at Cass Art. 

Read our other Student Spotlights on The Ruskin School of Art, Oxford here, and The Edinburgh College of Art here.  

Image Credits

Image 1 - Ray

Image 2 - Camilla

Image 3 - Ian

Image 4 - Natasha 

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