Each year, UAL Art Collection staff visit all of the university’s graduate shows and following recommendations from Course and Pathway Leaders, select a number of artworks to be purchased and permanently entered into the collection. The graduate shows are a time of great excitement and mean so much to those involved. To the graduates they can represent the pinnacle they have been working towards throughout their university career.
This year things looked, and will likely continue to look, very different. As a reflection of the current Covid-19 situation, we at the UAL Art Collection prepared for graduates’ physical output to be very different, understanding that they have had to deal with enormous changes to their working processes and intended results.
As such, perhaps we weren’t quite prepared for the level of nuance, maturity and resolution we found in the work we were presented. Considering these emerging artists’ practice as built throughout their time at UAL - given more of what is usually kept behind the scenes - meant that we as viewers were granted a different view to that which is predominately based on the final show. We also saw graduates using the digital platform as a pathway to lead us through their thought processes and present their work in new and sophisticated ways. Stefan Kaufmann, a recent graduate from MFA Fine Art at Wimbledon College of Arts, began a visual diary on 16 March 2020 - the first day of UK social distancing measures, which he added to for 80 days, capturing an extraordinary socio-political time from one person’s isolated position. Kaufmann used his website to present his work interactively, so that the viewer can turn each page.
World events: Covid-19, racial inequity and the upsurge in the Black Lives Matter Movement, immigration policies and resulting disasters, have been overwhelming and have affected us all, and have certainly made for critical, compelling and acute work. In her vast ongoing project Conversations from Calais, Mathilda Della Torre, who graduated from MA Graphic Communication Design at CSM, documents conversations between volunteers and migrants who have met in Calais. Della Torre has donated her payment for the work to a humanitarian organisation who provide food and water for displaced people across Northern France.
A recurring approach of working in a documentarian or investigative way has been well-suited to these themes and made for some beautifully crafted and explorative works which are at once personal and empathetic. CSM BA Fine Art graduate Sara David uses film in humorous and loving tribute to her family. In Rotis and Recollections, she demonstrates her inability to recreate her mother’s cooking skills, whilst exploring her British Indian identity in heartfelt discussion with her best friend.
Our new collection artists are already progressing to hugely exciting projects, exhibitions and opportunities, such as Rene Matić who is part of this year’s Bloomberg New Contemporaries and has a solo show, Born British, Die British currently open at Vitrine Gallery, London.
The opportunity to look more closely behind the final show and a graduate’s ‘main piece’ has been a privilege for the UAL Art Collection, and the works purchased in this time of extraordinary circumstances will be of considerable archival interest in years to come.
For any enquiries relating to these works or the UAL Art Collection in general please contact Lucie Pardue by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Details of new artworks as they are acquired are available on our webpages.
Banner image: Rotis and Recollections, Sara David (2020).