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It’s Not About the Gallery for ARU students

Published: 25 August 2022 at 16:00

Photo of work by Kate Green

Degree Show to go on display inside, and outside, Ruskin Gallery in Cambridge

A new exhibition called It’s Not About the Gallery brings together work by 10 MA Fine Art and MA Printmaking students from Anglia Ruskin University’s Cambridge School of Art for their end-of-course Degree Show.

Each of the artists has a unique creative, cultural and geographic background, but they are united by the belief that art cannot exist solely in the physical gallery space. 

Much of the work is inspired by the great outdoors, and the exhibition itself will be on display both inside and outside the Ruskin Gallery at ARU from 2-8 September.

Street artist Jon Revell’s work sits outside the Ruskin Gallery, on the wall of the David building on ARU’s Cambridge campus, whilst Kate Green’s immersive work takes inspiration from the natural world. Kate explained:

“I use examples of emerging life and hidden potential such as body cells, DNA or seed pods and stylise and supersize to create impact with a sense of fun. 

“Unseen potential and unique value lies beneath the surface of each one of us, each person an individual, handcrafted, weird and wonderful creation. These ideas are shown through contrasts between what’s hidden and what’s exposed, the surface versus what lies beneath.”

The natural world reoccurs in the work of other artists. Winner of the Sustainability Art Prize 2022, Sarah Strachan’s work “The Security Dilemma” is inspired by conversations with academics, archivists and volunteers at the World Soil Survey Archive and Catalogue (WOSSAC), materials held in their archive, and the geopolitical issues in Ukraine and beyond. Sarah said:

“Do we really know the value of our soil? With over 75% of global soils classed as substantially degraded and, according to the British Society of Soil Science, nearly a quarter of the world’s most fertile soil located in Ukraine, are we on the brink of a devastating global food crisis?”

Joe Dean’s work is also inspired by the interaction of nature and humans, and the difference between memory, reality, and the subconscious. Joe said:

“The series of works in the exhibition are my response to hazy childhood memories of woodland near where I grew up in Bedfordshire. 

“As children, we were barely aware of it but next to Chicksands Wood stood a military base and a 70-metre tall antenna array that looked rather like a metal Stonehenge. The USAF used it to gather intelligence data during the Cold War.”

Known locally as the ‘The Elephant Cage’, it is now gone, superseded by satellite technology, but from the air it is still possible to see traces of the concrete piles that supported the structure. Joe’s images simultaneously capture the beauty of the woodland and the sinister presence of this huge listening structure.

MA Fine Art and MA Printmaking course leader Dr Véronique Chance said:

“Working through the restrictions posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and readjusting in its aftermath, these artists have shown tremendous resilience, ingenuity and resourcefulness, whilst engaging with personal and pertinent issues of our time.”

The It’s Not About the Gallery exhibition runs from 2-8 September in the Ruskin Gallery and adjoining spaces. The exhibition is open to the public and is free to attend. More examples of the students’ work are available at present.aru.ac.uk