Node 9, Part 2 – LJMU MA Fine Art
at LJMU Exhibition Research Centre. Wednesday 13 January 2016
Words and photographs by Patrick Kirk-Smith
Node 9 is a varied excursion into a community that has described itself as small self-critical circle. Having experienced similar environments from various perspectives, that’s definitely the way it should be. This is the new show by students of Liverpool John Moores University’s MA in Fine Art. It’s not particularly looking at any unifying theme, but it does provide an insight into the workings of an MA that is going from strength to strength, largely through appointing the right people.
The show is an opportunity to inspect how time served at university creates a tight group of critical thinking, and meaningful change, regardless of what subject or level you study/ied at. This is an exhibition with all the force of the present, showing us exactly what is happening, in real time. Even giving the artists the chance to develop the work over Christmas for this January re-launch. Node 9 then, is basically these guys showing off how well they’ve got to know each other’s methods in a short space of time; how easily they can converse in the right environment. In other words, it’s a very, very clever advert for the course.
There’s a combination of film, installation, painting and question-led work. The stand out piece for me was a brilliantly presented film depicting a personal relationship with a documentary history. The work, by James Lockhart, was presented cleverly and clearly and was a break from the installation work that filled the rest of the space (interestingly, in the first offering of this exhibition in December, Lockhart presented an installation and changes his mind completely for the re-launch). It’s a confident move to present two screens in a room full of excess, and one that should be applauded.
Our recently featured artist, Joseph Cotgrave, was at large again here. Disco balls and magnetic tape, sided with a room separator made of vandalized chipboard. It’s a piece that screams the language of Homotopia from an artist who will no doubt have a much bigger voice in the next festival. The work focuses on perceptions of HIV and club culture. It works in the gallery space without taking it over, much like a lot of the installation work here. Other artists include Mia Cathcart, Gillian Donley, Ali Hutchinson, Lesley James, Christian Nerf, Amy Russell and Stephen Sheehan, all of whom have approached this brief of thinking and rethinking really well, producing two exhibition ready works, each, for one space over just a few short weeks.
Don’t let that fool you though, this isn’t a process led thing, this is an exhibition that reforms a work, more as proof of their collective abilities than for the sake of the finished piece. For an exhibition with six changeable installation pieces (out of a total of nine works) to function without being overwhelming is no small feat. It’s an example of what can be accomplished by the sorts of groups that form at this level. There are clear conversations between works, and group curatorial input.
Node 9 is an enjoyable show with wide ranging work, in a variety of media. It spans across installation and film, with some very accomplished paintings from Mia Cathcart. It’s got a little for everyone and tells a lot of stories, but more than anything, as with every MA show, it’s a hint at what might be coming to Liverpool in the future, and a preview of how these artists work, if you haven’t already come across them.