MiAL: promoting emerging artists from University of the Arts London

Launching a sustainable practice as an artist is challenging, even after graduating from a world-class institution like the University of the Arts London. A career as a visual artist is by definition undefined, unregulated, insecure, and complex. It requires resourcefulness, drive and tenacity. Then there is the continuous self-examination, the need for validation, both in one’s own mind, and in the perception of others. For me, it is primarily a journey of discovery, and about communicating ideas and viewpoints that one spends a lot of time studying and thinking about. I hope that my practice inspires a response, and that it continues to evolve and carry me further on its own momentum. I think my aspirations are shared by most of my peers, as are the very practical concerns of how you are actually supposed to navigate and sustain such a career with integrity.

Iron Genie etched zinc plates

Iron Genie etched zinc plates

Made in Arts London (MiAL) #MiALSS15 is an initiative launched by the UAL student’s union with just these concerns in mind. MiAL showcases and markets the work of a wide range of artists and designers who are either currently students or recent graduates of the university’s six colleges, selected by panels of established artists and designers and industry experts. All the work promoted is on sale, and there is also a commitment to offer mentoring, feedback, and promotional events to the participating artists and designers.

With such a valuable opportunity on offer, I decided to enter an edition of high quality digital prints taken from the artist’s proofs I made from from the original plates installed in my sculpture, the Iron Genie – they can be purchased directly from MiAL Spring/Summer collection here, where you can also browse a whole range of fresh, affordable works of art. I feel very proud to be a part of this genuinely nurturing initiative, and I would like to thank the organizers and the London team, Rosa Harvest and Francesca Peschier for their guidance and support.

I had a chance to see some of the collection and meet some of my peers at MiAL’s recent exhibition, Capsule, at the Embassy Tea Gallery, 195 – 205 Union Street, London SE1 0LN. Here is a small selection of artists and their work that I found particularly inspiring:

"Lofty messages of faces and dreams" video projection by Pamm Hong

“Lofty messages of Faces and Dreams” video projection by Pamm Hong

Pamm Hong’s intriguing and beautiful video projection Lofty messages of Faces and Dreams” held me transfixed for all twenty minutes of its duration, as intricate moving drawings overlayed morphing faces in an exquisitely choreographed sequence, like a distilled dreamscape floating in and out of one’s consciousness. Pamm Hong is graduating in 2016 from Central Saint Martin’s MA Material Futures, a cutting edge course that focusses on research into the future of material culture – I have always enjoyed the output of this course, which includes some extraordinarily innovative research.

An installation by Sarah Fortis themed around 2001: A Space Odisey

An installation by Sarah Fortais themed around 2001: A Space Odyssey

Sarah Fortais: Inscription on the installation

Sarah Fortais: Inscription on the installation

Sarah Fortais “2001: A Space Odyssey” installation is a re-creation in miniature of the room in which the film’s main character Bowman is imprisoned at the end of his surreal journey through space. Entirely enclosed in a white box, the room can only be viewed through tiny spy-holes which lend it a certain distortion …. and most intriguingly, as you circle the white box, you find a small handwritten message scrawled on one side … or maybe it is at the back:………

I found myself drawn to other works hinting at spatial disorientation – which makes me consider whether this was an intentional sub-theme in the curation of the exhibition, or whether it reflects by default the zeitgeist of the present.

Arnaud Meneroud‘s  highly manipulated photographs (above) are constructed using a classical device of  exponentially receding repetition, which draws you into fragmented quasi-industrial landscapes with a hint of parallel dimension. I love the rigour of Meneroud’s craftsmanship – the composition and proportion of the images are near faultless, which adds to their credibility.

Higher-dimensionality is also implied in Meiko Kikuta‘s “Re-construction” (left). Kikuta conceives her work as a ‘visual puzzle’, the three-dimensional structures tracing out a ground-plan based on a specific object, the identity of which is obscured. I was intrigued that the structures look like a series of distorted hypercubes – a hypercube being defined as “an n-dimensional analogue of a square and a cube” (Wikipedia) – or the visual paradox of a 4-dimensional cube.

Libby Heaney is a quantum physicist who is currently completing Central Saint Martin’s MA Art & Science – the same course from which I graduated. The course attracts a high intake of scientists – it seems that science is the “New Art”, which is a very exciting prospect. Heaney works with Platonic solids as analogies for “the contrasting notions of the physical macroscopic world and the blurry, unobservable realm of quantum physics”

I shall finish with an image of Heaney’s exhibition installation, in which small, painterly solids climb up a macro structure of slick stainless steel – marrying concept and style to create a satisfying whole. The installation is part of an integrated body of work which includes coded algorithms – you can purchase some of the printed digital outputs as well as smaller related sculptures here. This is a very small selection of a diverse community of artists creating art and design in a wide range of media – please do visit the Made in Arts London website to browse the whole collection, be inspired, and maybe buy a unique piece of cutting- edge art for yourself.


Installation at MiAL “Capsule” exhibition by Libby Heaney