Students on the Fine Art programmes at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation are hosting their annual Summer Show exhibition online this year. This is the first time they will be presenting their work on a new website, dedicated to the graduating class of 2020, and launched on Monday, July 13, 2020.
The site features dedicated pages for each student, showcasing their work in a diverse range of media – including drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, textiles, photography, and video – as well as projects made in response to the worldwide lockdown. It includes documentation of the academic year as a whole, referencing research, images of work in progress, and selected essays. Contact information will allow the public to reach out to graduates for commissions, exhibitions, professional opportunities, and more.
The COVID-19 outbreak presented numerous challenges for students midway through their Graduate Diploma and MFA programmes. Dr David Stent, Fine Art Subject Leader, explains: “This cohort of students has risen to the challenge of remote working, finding inventive ways to adapt and extend their studio practices, while maintaining and celebrating the closeness of the studio community even at a distance.”
Philippa Clarke, MFA Year 1 student, commented: “Lockdown has been hard. There’s no doubt about that. But finding creative responses to challenging situations is what artists do best. We’ve found new ways of working, turning our domestic spaces into ones of production, seeking inspiration with limited resources and connecting with one another online for virtual coffee and biscuits. The exhibition website is something new for all of us and when we get to show our work for real in London next year, the feeling is going to be immense.”
As well as creating the website as a platform to showcase graduating students, West Dean is committed to hosting a physical exhibition at London’s Copeland Gallery in January 2021, accompanied by a limited-edition publication dedicated to the students’ work. The website will remain up until the London exhibition closes.
West Dean College of Arts and Conservation is renowned for its Fine Art programmes, with graduates going on to practice and exhibit internationally. The department’s ethos of encouraging diverse interdisciplinary practice, together with its support of specialist subjects, attracts students interested in radical approaches to art and those with a strong emphasis on studio practice and making. Exceptionally large studios, excellent facilities, and an outstanding student-to-staff ratio ensure students are supported to challenge themselves and push the boundaries of contemporary Fine Art practice. The Graduate Diploma and MFA programmes are further supported by a series of Artists-in-Residence, regular Visiting Artists and Tutors, and a campus that features an Historic House, Collection and Archive, and a wider Estate of 6,000 acres within the South Downs National Park.
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