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Gray’s students stage exhibition in Macedonia


Gray’s School of Art students have created and staged a special exhibition during a trip to the Macedonian capital of Skopje – in just a week.

Macedonia trip David Rae paintingThe group of 35 second to fourth year students travelled to the city earlier this month, and spent the week exploring the city and meeting diverse figures from the contemporary art scene.

They were then asked to respond to their new environment and the Macedonian art scene by producing work for a pop-up exhibition held at Menada for a single night.

The students are from courses specialising in painting and Contemporary Art Practice (CAP), which spans printmaking, moving image, photography and sculpture.

Jessica Barrie (19), a second year painting student, said: “I’m so glad I took part in the trip, it was hugely successful.

“The whole experience was quite surreal, I'd encourage anyone who hasn’t been to Macedonia to go and see what's happening. It's a very interesting place.

“We got to speak to a lot of artists there, who were embracing life in Skopje and it was very inspiring to speak to them and see what they had to say.”

She added: “My idea for a piece was based heavily on what I encountered in Skopje.

“You would walk through a street and see normal Eastern European buildings, then, suddenly were confronted with a baroque facade.

Macedonian trip Jessica Barrie work“I based my piece on this and bought a Slovenian maths book from a stall and named it 'Formula for National Pride' referring to the Government’s quick fix to solving the country’s issues. All 475 pages were used to create a response to what I saw.

“I loved putting the piece together. The whole Macedonian culture has somewhat transfixed me.”

Lecturer Jon Blackwood said: “From my own research previously, I knew what a rich opportunity Skopje would provide for our students in terms of the development of their knowledge and experience.

“We had an absolutely packed week of gallery visits and talks by leading artists from the contemporary art scene in Macedonia.

“Our exhibition was a great success. The opening was the first public exhibition for many of the group and was attended by over 150 people. The comments we received about the students' work were very favourable.”

During the trip, students were asked to consider how the arts scene in Skopje is different to that in Aberdeen.

They visited a range of art galleries, studios and the Museum of Contemporary Art, looking at the links between Macedonian and Yugoslav history and contemporary art.

Jon added: “Skopje was certainly a challenging and stimulating environment for the students and many have said they will go back."

Second year painting student, David Rae (19), said: “I really enjoyed the trip and it was really interesting to go somewhere a bit different than I have been before.

“It was an interesting experience, seeing Macedonia and the different standard of living compared to the UK.”

David created a series of art work that he felt represented Skopje.

He explained: “I made a small series of three paintings - a car, a bus and a digger.

“The digger was the first thing that interested me. I thought it perfectly represented the way I saw the country and what is currently happening there.

“The government is doing a lot of building work in an attempt to revamp the city. However, the country still has a lot of problems to address so I feel the digger represents this.

“The car highlights the amount of old cars in the city and the bus represents the journey that the city is on to improve.”

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Caitlin O'CallaghanCommunications Office | Placement Student