Tour of MA Drawing show with Kate Macfarlane, Co-Director of the Drawing Room

Text and Images by Frederic Anderson, MFA, Wimbledon College of Arts

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This DRAW event was organized in conjunction with the 2016 MA Drawing degree show at Wimbledon College of Arts. It took the form of a guided tour of the exhibition, hosted by Kate Macfarlane – Co-Director of the Drawing Room gallery and the graduating students.

This carefully structured event functioned on many different levels. For the members of the general public in attendance it offered a rare insight into the physical working methods, techniques, processes and conceptual research behind the pieces on display.

Kate posed sensitive questions to the students, gently peeling back layers of complexity to reveal underlying research questions, working processes and curatorial choices. In questioning students with particularly strong research elements to their practices, such as Ray Kathryn Radnell, Andrew Youngson, Caragh Savage, Rachel Bacon and Giulia Lanza, the answers to these questions provided a fascinating insight into the works on display. Despite being resolved and visually communicative in themselves, through carefully aimed questions, the works were revealed to contain hidden depths and interconnecting layers of complexity. Under this level of scrutiny, the students demonstrated their ability to speak concentrically around their chosen subject areas. The questions also brought to light subtle connections linking the ideas of different students and how these were explored and developed into highly individual multi-disciplinary languages over the course of the year.

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For the students themselves, the tour seemed to lay the foundations of a bridge between the academic world and professional practice. Kate was careful to ask each student how they envisaged moving their work forwards, how they saw their research and practical work developing in a professional context after the course and how they envisaged showing their work in commercial gallery spaces. She also placed the students within a professional context by drawing comparisons between their work and pieces shown in past exhibitions at the Drawing Room. Taking the role of curator, she posed practical questions related to potential installation issues, curatorial choices and how the works could be perceived by viewers, revealing issues that might excite, intrigue or concern her, should she have to curate an exhibition featuring the works on display.
The event felt like a celebration and showcasing of the fruits of an extremely intense year of hard work, extensive research and skillful drawing. It was also an auspicious send off, launching the professional careers of a dedicated and talented group of artists that have explored and advanced the boundaries of conventional drawing practice together. It seems fitting that this event should bring together one of the most prestigious drawing courses in the country and one of the most important exhibition spaces for drawing. In doing so, it placed the next generation of drawing practitioners in direct contact with a high-profile exhibition space dedicated to drawing, potentially laying the foundations for mutually beneficial future collaborations.