Students set out into the real world with such hope and expectation and the current WIT Degree Show catches this mood head on. Will fine and pure art survive, must the work be more commercial, a touch controversial, more immediate, or eye-catching? Or is there a space for reflective, thought-out explorations.
Margaret Beary had a little house of craft tools like a corner of Johnstown Castle. Karen Firman had an arch of old worn shoes. Anita Conway had a study of hands and fans and Derek Kennedy had a detailed photo-study of the male body in all its nooks, crannies and phallic possibilities, titled Nowt As Queer As Folk.
Jamie Murphy caught on canvas the after match mood of a silent GAA pitch like a field of dreams, all gone home again. Fiona Byrne had a fine commercial photo-study, Man Made, while Claire Doyle was selling dreams. Laura Kenny explored a Japanese Tea Ceremony and Daniela Fischer-McMullan caught Metamorphosis in water.
Sofia Omelkovica had a beautiful poster of flowers in a girls hair that was much more contemporary than hippy-dippy, while Rowena Leavy’s photos captivated a Song Bird imagery.
But the quality was in evidence in the reflective imagery of Breda Flanagan’s study of displacement, alienation, isolation using a highly polished hospital corridor to contrast feelings of love and loss in trinkets and jewellery with a sterile fear in sharp photos of medical equipment. Her work books were an insightful treasury. Jen Murphy had a dark secret garden of scary flowers and foreboding.
Jenna Whelan just blew me away with a study of meat as her actual subject was photographed dressed in rashers and slices of meat from head to toe. Her detailed recreation of old style rooms complete with holy water font had a startling bicycle in a milking parlour with two churns over-flowing with rashers.
The centre of attention was a bright yellow Nissan muscle car decorated by Ferrybank student, paddy McGrath. His excellent photographic studies of Shane Lynch and rugged sports stars were the most striking and commercial of magazine quality, that I saw and he has an assured future.
Once again organisation was low-key, no external signs or signage, no catalogue, handout or press release. My thanks to Paul Stafford, Larry Condon and Marc Jones who allowed me access to exhibits and provided me with details, etc.