Art students tackle social issues at Gray’s Degree Show: Neon Futures

Tuesday 30 May 2023

Lucy Gibb - Painting (Hons) Graduate from Gray's Degree Show
With under two weeks to go until Gray’s Degree Show 2023: Neon Futures, preparations are underway for the upcoming show with students tackling a range of social issues including feminism, gender equality and autism.

This year’s Degree Show: Neon Futures, opens to the public on 10 June until 17 June, and celebrates the bright, bold futures of 150 graduating students across Painting, Contemporary Art Practice, Fashion & Textiles, Communication Design, Three-Dimensional Design and Photography.

Painting student, Lucy Gibb who lives in Aberdeen, is one of those exhibiting at the degree show. Her project focuses on ‘Women’s Work’ and the hard work and challenges undertaken by past generations of women.  Lucy explores themes of expected gender roles and women’s frustration towards them and uses textiles and experiments with natural dye, using tea and coffee to explore colour and materials such as cement and wax.  

Lucy said: “I use textiles to explore the theme of Women's Craft; In the same way that there is a beauty to the craft of female manual labourers - there is also a monotony. I aim to show the hard work and skill required within hand craft, much like that undertaken by past generations of women.

“I use my practice to explore my own identity as a woman. In art history, and certainly prior to the mid-20th century, women are often portrayed in a different light compared to the art we see today. Classical art features women as objects simply to be looked at by men. Throughout history we can see the change in how women are portrayed in art and through the rise of women starting to pursue art as a career. The 1960s brought the second wave of feminism which massively altered the art world and changed the way in which art was made. Women started to make art about real women and for women.

 “I believe art can be used to highlight any number of challenges women have faced in society in the past and present. Some women artists use their practice to explore the theme of inequality in society and use their work as an outlet for the frustration brought on by this inequality. My own practice explores themes of expected gender roles, and women's frustration towards them.”

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Another graduating art student, Miriam Foy, who specialises in Sculpture, draws on her experience with autism, using performance art and poetry to explore her own autism and the idea of inheritance, as the condition is believed to pass through generations about 80% of the time.

Miriam says: “Both my mother and my grandmother were undiagnosed autistic women. My work explores how autistic women are pressured to assimilate and ‘fit in’ by camouflaging their autism through participating in masking. It looks at the expectations there are on people with invisible disabilities to suffer in silence.

“I can take things quite literally and tend to participate in black and white thinking. Because I am autistic, I think in pictures and have made poetic works from which I have created into sculptures. 

“My work asks the viewer If they would like to read every word I've ever written and leads them to 100 poems written on ribbon. It is hard for me to exist, and I have therefore made my work hard for the viewer to access in the hope that it will raise awareness about invisible disabilities and provide a voice for autistic people to be seen and heard. I hope my work makes people reflect on how different ways of thinking are hugely beneficial and that other people's interpretations of the world around them are just as important.”

Dean of Gray’s School of Art, Libby Curtis, said: “We are absolutely delighted to showcase amazing talent at Gray’s Degree Show. The theme of this year’s show ‘Neon Futures’, reflects our graduates ‘new’ and bold futures in the making. Our graduates work represents the intricate relationships between art, design, new technology, and our human condition. Super-charged with new ideas and buzzing with excitement, the projects on show at Gray’s upcoming degree show are testament to the foundation we offer students as they prepare for their careers as artists and designers. I would encourage everyone to come along to the show to see for themselves the amazing work on display and celebrate the creative spirit that will drive their new futures forward.”

A private view will take place on 9 June for friends and family and the event will include presentations of Gray’s & RGU Art & Heritage Principal’s awards, Four Pillar awards, Industry Awards.

Main image shows Gray's Degree Show Painting graduate, Lucy Gibb, also featured in gallery images. Miriam Foy, who specialises in Sculpture, also shown in gallery collection.

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