A group of current and former students from the University of Kent BA(Hons) in Fine Art, delivered at University Centre West Kent, are staging an exhibition of their work at a new gallery in Edenbridge.
Entitled Past, Present, Future, the exhibition, which runs from 11-15th September, is curated by recent graduate Daniel Huckfield. Featuring the work of 12 artists, the private view on 11th September saw around 50 people in attendance.
Daniel explains the impetus behind the exhibition: “I’m heading to the University of Brighton to study an MA in Fine Art and I thought it was a final opportunity to gather my talented contemporaries together for one final exhibition before I left and they all progressed onto other things.”
The exhibition space adjoins, and is owned by, LeGrys estate agents. Daniel explains: “I live locally, noticed that the unit next door was vacant and saw the potential there. After a conversation with the Director of LeGrys, he agreed to make the space available as a joint project.”
“It’ll be run as an ongoing gallery space, where I’ll be curating five to six group exhibitions a year, showcasing artists from across Kent. In between those exhibitions, it’s available to rent for artists and makers to put on their own exhibitions.”
Commenting on his time on the degree programme, Daniel says: “It’s been a fantastic course and I wouldn’t have been able to put on this show without it. It taught me the key aspects of curating and putting on an exhibition.”
He adds: “I can’t speak highly enough of my lecturers, Sam Herbert and James Brooks. Studying on the BA significantly boosted my confidence as an artist. I really felt like an artist when I left the course, whereas previously I didn’t wholly feel like one.”
The abstract, amorphous forms of Daniel’s ceramics channel Modernism whilst drawing influence from the science fiction films of the mid-twentieth century. “I’m interested in the ways in which that particular era of film saw the future, how the producers of Forbidden Planet and the Star Trek series envisioned the possibilities.”
Another artist featured in the exhibition is Siana Kohler. Her paintings draw inspiration from everyday life, exploring the idea of banal, overlooked objects and the narratives we impose on them.
Discussing her degree course, she says: “It certainly enabled me to take my painting further and taught me to think differently. It allowed me to have an objective critical analysis whilst seeing my work in a wider contemporary context.”
Siana is currently on the Fine Art Professional Development (FAPD) evening course at West Kent College, designed for recent graduates or practicing artists. The course expands artists’ networks & opportunities with supportive, expert advice. She plans to continue developing her work as an artist and may apply to do an MA.
Another featured artist is Alison Sweidan, who works with a variety of media to explore themes of perception, self-perception and the information about ourselves we choose to share or conceal. Her work is thought-provoking, yet executed with a light touch and a sense of humour. Her featured piece, ‘Just Some of the Times I Said I was Fine (but I wasn’t)’, records exactly that, each instance represented by an identical beaming face, on such a scale that they merge into an intense, undulating pattern.
Alison, who is also now on the FAPD course, says: “There was a hugely supportive and collaborative feeling on the degree programme, and I’ll miss that very much. It provided a great forum to bounce ideas off one another and an opportunity and freedom to experiment, without feeling overly judged on the success or failure of those experiments.”
Sam Herbert, lecturer in Fine Art, added “This fantastic exhibition and the procurement of the gallery for a regular programme of events not only demonstrates how ambitious and industrious our graduates are, but how engaged with the community they are, using all the skills they acquired whilst studying. It is very rewarding to see them forge and value those collaborative links as students with us.”
The BA (Hons) Top-Up in Fine Art forms part of a suite of creative courses from the University of Kent that are delivered at the University Centre at West Kent College.