I remember the final major project show anxiety well, although it’s been a good two years since I felt the stress of the PCA Summer Show hit me as I worked relentlessly to get my exhibition up to scratch before the big opening. I imagine the graduates of this year felt the same, or maybe they’re a lot more organised than I was and took it all in their stride… It certainly looked that way.
Starting off my Summer Show experience was the Fashion Graduates Show, which was hosted at the School of Creative Arts in Millbay. Having been Vice President of the PCA:SU for a while, I was privy to the first hatchings of the plan surrounding the new free school, and seeing it in all it’s glory was a real treat. We were ushered into a hall, kitted out with dozens of seats and a stretched out shiny catwalk. Having never been to a fashion show before, I sat excitedly as the lights dimmed and the collections were introduced.
With inspiration from feminist movements to the seduction of faux fur, the collections on offer ranged from the flamboyant, dominant and sometimes a little… strange, to the delicate and feminine with textures of white lace and soft feathers.
Many of the pieces challenged societal norms and commented on various current affairs, which was compelling to see coming through in the fashion work. Molly Mildren, who’s collection was named ‘Insert Title Here’, specifically challenged the gender norms and roles of our society with her compilation of pastel colour pieces, throwback metallic puffed jackets and reversible garments.
“I wanted my garment to be practical. The colours are quite muted, the silhouette is fairly classic, and the coat has pockets. It’s also reversible – though I don’t want to specify which is ‘inside’ and which is ‘outside’. I want someone to buy it and keep it for a long time. “Also, rather than my design being gender-specific, I wanted it to be gender-less. I want it to be worn by anyone – and I also want to reflect changes in society.” Alongside Molly’s assemble, there was Elliot Borthwick’s ‘Gully Elite’ described as ‘the underbelly of insubordinate youth culture juxtaposed with an aristocratic, blue blood lifestyle’, collaborating detachable bum bags, monotone sportswear, and repurposed balaclavas as well as Shauna Cooper’s ‘Still not asking for it’, a collection delving into the world of clothing politics, featuring glittery fabrics, childish dresses and garments with ‘Hands Off’ sewn into the seams.
Overall, I was beyond impressed with the high standard of work on display from the BA Fashion graduates. With such a vast expanse of well thought out and exquisitely executed items, it was easy to forget that I was sat in Millbay in Plymouth and not rubbing shoulders with the likes of Vivienne Westwood and Karl Lagerfeld during London Fashion Week.
The following week, I took myself to Plymouth College of Art and began my Summer Show experience exploring the college that I graduated from two years ago. I started my journey in the BA Contemporary Crafts exhibition, where I was treated to a variety of artisan pieces from jewellery to cast body moulds, to household furniture and glassware. Amy Casto’s pieces, small glass cups with simple illustrations painted on them, named An Observational Nature, explores the organic form and the human figure by observing conversations.
“I observe my surroundings and retain forms from memory in order to draw from my imagination. The observational nature makes me quite a curious person and I am fascinated by other people’s conversations. I have used a combination of glass engraving and painting, combined with glass blowing to create a body of work that lets my love of drawing take over.” I followed the arrows around the college round and up stairs to the BA Illustration exhibition, where I was greeted by a grey and lime green shed. Inside you can find all sorts of bespoke items available on sale hand made by the students themselves. Comics, notebooks, pocket mirrors, resin models, prints, postcards, tote bags and so much more; it was easy to get lost in the incredible selection of work.
As I wandered the halls I dipped in and out of a huge variety of creative work on offer. With the College offering courses from film to game arts, from ceramics to contemporary crafts, there was something interesting to be found around every corner. I saw a giant reindeer made out of paper, I sat in a tent and watched a short film and I even got to hang out in an arcade.
It seemed fitting that I ended up on the fourth floor, where I’d spent the majority of my time (well, I lie, my attendance wasn’t the best) during my degree. This floor was home to the BA Graphic Design students, however the term graphic design doesn’t seem quite right for the content of work that I saw. With 3D models, interactive installations, wallpaper dispensers and a real high standard of work, the content was diverse and fascinating.
In particular, Tatsunori Ishikawa’s Unseen project incorporates many different aspects of graphics and design with branding, photography and sound visualisation to name a few. Inspired by fashion, music and culture, Tatsunori incorporates an interactive sound installation where the elements of sound waves and symmetry play into his design work. It was of no surprise to me that his exhibition had won Best of Show, although I couldn’t have been able to make that decision myself!
Another great year hosted by Plymouth College of Art and its many talented students, such a fantastic asset to the city, I already can’t wait to see what you have in store for me next year!