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Reviews: Liverpool Hope Degree Shows 2016

Hope University Art & Design Degree Show

Cornerstone May 28 – June 6 2016

Words and photographs by Patrick Kirk-Smith

My favourite thing about degree shows has to be seeing fledgling art students wearing their ironed shirts for the last time. I forget how I used to find the time to iron, it’s such a rarity these days that I’d probably need to book time off work to do it. The anticipation of winning an award, and standing up in front of all your now-ex-peers, brimming with pride, makes it worth finding the time for it though.

The artist I can’t avoid mentioning as the fairly indisputable star of the show, is Attila Olah. Graduating from the BA Design course with not one, but two incredible awards, including an enviable window exhibition at Bluecoat Display Centre, which I’m sure will lead to more. His success was in his presentation, displaying his bowls – his vessels as he calls them – in immaculately perfect ice sculptures that looked like something Barbara Hepworth probably served drinks on.

Another of the numerous awards went to Amy Worsley, who will be developing a new project with FACT with all the expert support that goes with it. Her project, while a little squeamish for those with an aversion to contact lenses, preserves these temporary windows and exhibits the lives that were perceived through them for all to see. It doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to see how well this project could be supported by FACT, who have access to some of the greatest minds in the digital arts, right on Hope’s doorstep.

But this wasn’t just the Olah and Worsley show, there was a massive amount of exceptional work almost pouring out of the doors of The Cornerstone on opening night. Some works out of the degree show which hugely benefited from the eternally baffling corridor layout were Stephanie Miello, winner of Arena Studios and Gallery’s residency award, and James Taylor (not that one) whose playable piano put a smile on everyone’s face.

The Cornerstone often gets overlooked during degree show season, but works like these benefit from its maze of studios and work spaces. Even the winners of FACT and Bluecoat Display Centre’s prizes would have struggled to make the impact they made without the ability to use such a huge variety of spaces. The difference between this and LJMU’s John Lennon Art and Design Building is that LJMU was built to purpose.

LJMU has a space that was meant to accommodate vast amounts of work and look good. Hope, on the contrary, make its students work far harder to find a place to suit their work, or make a work to suit their place. And what degree shows exist for is not the good of the many. They exist to display the success of the few, and the more-than-few that stand out here have made brilliant uses of their spaces to create work that will hopefully continue to be developed, with similarly exciting results with Arena, FACT and The Bluecoat Display Centre.

The degree show at Liverpool Hope is open until June 6th and free to all.