Sussex ArtBeat

Art on show in Brighton & Hove and Sussex

Before words: latest contemporary art at the MA Fine Art show, Brighton University, 7- 15 July 2017

Irin Pascal, Chief Aristocrat, 2016 Ebonized wood construction with lacquer 235 x 101 x 4 cm

An inspiring exhibition of the latest in fine art will open on Friday 7 July 2017: the MA Fine Art Year End Show at Brighton University.  The art is diverse, being the expression of around 30 artists in all media from painting to sculpture to installation to video, and includes artists making a name for themselves in UK galleries. Brighton is also a hotbed of postmodern cultural theory, and the art on show reflects cultural themes from gender, to race, to Brexit.

Artists at the show getting noticed by UK exhibition spaces include:

  • Irvin Pascal, selected for this year’s New Contemporaries, will show a sculptural installation. Expect themes of race and identity.
  • Shelley Morrow, selected for the East Sussex Open (2016) and the Discerning Eye exhibition to Mall Galleries in London. Expect hand sewn figure-drawings and a quilt reflecting the relationship between big brands and clothing workers.
  • Caitlin Alexandra, selected for Atkinson Gallery, will show a video installation. Expect themes around gender.
caitlin alexander Redhead_website

Caitlin Alexander, Atkinson Gallery, Redhead, 2016

The Brighton MA student group brings together international and local artists, some of whom have come from degree courses achieving high grades, others are mature artists with established practices who want to develop their work in new directions. Many students have already won national awards, residencies and been selected for national exhibitions.

The work on display showcases a diverse range of media from painting; installation, photography, sound based practices, sculpture, textiles, performance and video work. The artists within the show are addressing contemporary issues within society and culture and by creating art that opens up a dialogue about these issues, the audience are invited to be part of the discussion.

Shelley Morrow Red Thread detail

Shelley Morrow Red Thread detail

There will be an exhibition tour led by the students themselves which will offer visitors a deeper insight into the work on display.


A note on the exhibition title “Before Words”

The name of this year’s MA Fine Art show at Brighton University is a quote from the opening words of the ground-breaking 1972 TV series and book, ‘Ways of Seeing’ by John Berger: “Seeing comes before words. The child looks before it can speak”.

Berger asked us to shake off our cultural conditioning and ideas of aesthetics to see art in a different way. He analysed social context to show how ‘high art’ objectified women and entrenched class and racial prejudice. He popularised the idea of the controlling and voyeuristic ‘male gaze’. Avante Gard artists led the revolution against the art establishment. Modernism gave way to conceptual art and post modernism, and our ideas of power and gender have also evolved.

Berger applied a materialist analysis and didn’t develop the intriguing notion of a pre-verbal, or pre-rational, intuitive value system. But intuition lies at the heart of art practice, and artists carry on using intuition to relate to the world regardless of what critics say about art.

This idea that that the art object has something to say – something different to what the artist, or art critics, collectors or theorists might say – is key to John Berger’s book. Whereas the artist and art historian might admire the craftsmanship and aesthetic beauty of a painting, the painting itself might tell a different story of the objectification of women or the validation of social class structures.

In the postmodern era, we might find ourselves asking, again, what we mean by “art”. Or we might stop trying to define art, and instead, quiet our minds, reflect, and use our primal bodies to create meaning. Maybe “art” is simply that: reflective practice: meditation, and its physical traces.


words by Russell Honeyman June 2017


About braveadmin

I'm an artist, counsellor and bodycare practitioner. I live in Brighton, England

One comment on “Before words: latest contemporary art at the MA Fine Art show, Brighton University, 7- 15 July 2017

  1. braveadmin
    June 30, 2017

    Reblogged this on Raphael by the Sea.

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This entry was posted on June 30, 2017 by in Brighton, Brighton and Hove, July 2017, University of Brighton Gallery.
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