Alumni in Focus

Mike Hughes

Graduate in Residence at Gray’s School of Art

Mike Hughes

A young Aberdeen artist presented his first solo show, after returning to Gray’s School of Art as Painting Graduate in Residence.

Mike Hughes  who graduated from Gray’s with a First Class Honours degree in Fine Art (Painting) in 2012, presented his show ‘In The Future’ early in 2015.

Consisting of completely new abstract paintings, Mike felt he broke new ground with his work, while also shedding more light on his initial studies.

He said: “The work in places feels like it takes some cues from optical art whilst retaining some nostalgia of paintings from the ‘80s. I’ve created some promotional videos, which are inspired by “so bad they’re good” movies from that era, to throw a bit of a curve ball to get people curious. I like having fun with something which wants to be more epic or dramatic than it actually is.”

The graduate in residence scheme at Gray’s provides support to a recent graduate in the early stages of their career by providing them with a studio space and access to other resources such as workshops and IT facilities while in return they assist with a range of undergraduate activities.

Mike, who was the fourth to undertake the role, said: “It's been a great experience and it's provided me with a much needed change of scene. It's great to make work in amongst the students. I get to see that energy around me and it rubs off on the work. It's interesting how subtle changes in your routine affect things.”

Part of the Real Nice Collective, a group of freelance artists who aim to make Art and Design accessible to a wider and more inclusive audience. Mike is also a talented illustrator and has been kept busy since graduating with numerous group exhibitions as well as working with a variety of companies such as Brewdog and Bos’n to produce graphics, interior installation and editorial illustration.

He said: “I've always been somebody that splits my time between as many different disciplines as the day will allow. Illustration and Painting provide different challenges for me personally and I love them both.

The gestural, more instinct driven side of painting is a time stopping experience. Everything I do in that space is without boundaries in a sense. With illustration it satisfies working technically within a brief. It's almost mathematical in that there are elegant solutions which I'm looking for. Something which makes it ‘work’. I also like that with illustration I can see an idea from start to finish in a day. Painting is a longer burn.”

Keith Grant, painting course leader at Gray’s, said: “Mike’s student work, and particularly his Degree Show, straddled the dividing line between fine art and graphic design. This exploration of the tension between the Expressive and the Graphic has always been one of his real strengths.

The work that he produced for the fourth Painting Graduate in Residence exhibition, has taken that relationship to a new level.”

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