Glasgow School of Art Degree Show Review 2022: The Skinny

The graduating students of 2022 faced unprecedented hardship, spending nearly two years away from the studio and their creative communities. Despite this, the show is a largely upbeat and energetic affair. It is exciting to see students from all disciplines being bold in their choice of materials and broad in examining approaches to their practices. The remoteness from the studio encouraged inventive experimentation in a range of mediums, with textiles emerging as a particularly generative field.

Anushka BarlasThe beautifully rich tapestries of take full advantage of the slow intensity of the medium. Using Shetland wool to weave intimate self-portraits and close-up abstract fragments of the Scottish countryside, Barlas’ textile work has the dreamlike quality of distant memories recalled through a haze of nostalgia. The self becomes a landscape, woven into and from its surroundings. Nuala Abramson turns to embroidery to create a sense of self and belonging. Working with gold thread and metallic beads, the pieces draw Byzantine wall hangings with startling flourishes: the flesh and bones of a ribcage, or the silhouette of a naked woman in a piece titled Little dead.

Anna WinterUsed napkins embroidered with commemorate meals and family occasions. Decorative beaded sections mark the stains and spills picked up by each napkin during a meal. Winther’s Towels combine the slow, laborious process of craftsmanship with a backlash against the consumer culture that encourages us to throw away used items. The simple white squares evoke a dark and ghostly atmosphere, which speaks of the many missed celebrations of the pandemic years.

Not all textile works are intimate and introspective; in fact, many of the artists working with sewing and fabrics extend their practice outward to involve other fabricators. Meadhbh Corriganit is Abolition Workshop Quilt is a powerful testimony of solidarity towards prisoners and their families, produced with eight other students during reading and sewing workshops. An act of collaborative care that counteracts the cruelties of the prison system, Corrigan’s quilt was later sold to raise funds for Glasgow Prisoner Solidarity Collective.

Knitter Kitty Glover created many of their sewn creatures in collaboration with participants of Platform’s weekly Clack and Yak group. Fanciful beasts are the product of intergenerational social gatherings, where people exchange knowledge and skills in an informal, non-academic environment. Patchwork curtains frame Nancy PilkingtonThe otherworldly installation, a childhood den made of tattered squares of pink fabric. Inside, a small patchwork sailboat promises escape and adventure. The frayed seams and tattered objects on display inside make it a place for creative repair. Katie HoggThe candy-colored installation takes a brighter, bolder approach to fantasy spaces, using contrasting textures and soft sculptures to encourage play.

Several art photography students have also chosen to highlight the physical materiality of their medium. Louis Syed Anderson brings together images of different sizes printed on a variety of textures, arranging them across the room to form a landscape. Navigating the installation brings the viewer closer to the detailed surfaces and materials that Syed-Anderson captures as if encountering a geological structure. spencer toothit is Asexual combines costume, portraiture and weaving to celebrate androgyny and non-binary gender. Dent’s screen-printed self-portraits recall the performances of Dada Cabaret Voltaire and the avant-garde costumes of Leigh Bowery; their use of PVC adds a tactile touch that is further accentuated in a woven work, showing a gruesome face stretched across an iron frame.

Emerging from an era marked by isolation and physical separation, it’s no surprise that communication and its limits emerge as another recurring theme. Kathleen Lodge finds humor and solace in everyday phrases, some of which are specific to his native East Midlands, printed in plain text. The mass-produced objects she chooses to mark – mugs, beer bottles, beer coasters, cushions – evoke warm and comforting spaces. Lodge commemorates and elevates the mundane interactions that take place in the region into something more permanent.

Words get (literally) sharp and weighted Tiago Rodrigues‘, where flippant, sarcastic and nihilistic phrases become sculptural forms made from chains, barbed wire and bricks. Rodrigues’ tapestry work takes on a more melancholy note: in one example, the stitched word “Saudade” (from Portuguese, with no equivalent in English, referring to a deep sense of longing) springs from a canvas titled recover quickly. Rodrigues’ mix of harsh challenge and nostalgic longing sets the tone for the show, in which an array of urgent and interesting voices emerge from the darkness, promising exciting things to come from the next generation of Scottish artists.


Execution completed; see more work from this year’s GSA graduates at gsashowcase.net

Kayleen C. Rice