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Degree Show Review by Valentina Fois

  • As a rule I never usually allow myself to take more than three or four contact cards per show, but during my visit at Slade I could not help myself, eventually leaving with 10 business cards of artists whom I was interested in. 


    The Goldsmiths show was ok; there were some works of very high quality, and by that I mean great finishing and decent production. An enjoyable thing about Goldsmiths is that the majority of the artists are always present. They are close to their work and are always willing to give you a special tour of the floor; hearing about the pieces from the artists themselves always adds another dimension to the work. Less nice was the fact that the college did not have a price list readily available, leaving others and myself without the chance to purchase desired works! 


    Many artists that I work with are from Goldsmiths, and they all tell me that the word money is a taboo within the University; the ethos of the art is so strong that apparently talk of the art market somewhat dirties the idea. What I say however is: Wake up, we are in 2012 and I’m sure that your students don’t want to starve forever! Provide them with the chance to hit the market and allow them to set their own rules.


    I’m sorry to say I found the RCA boring. If you disagree, thank God for that, we cannot have all the same opinion! The Sculpture’s department was quite good, in my experience it is often like that. The Painting’s department left me so dissatisfied that I had to buy myself a post exhibition pint to get over it. Due to the fame of the Institution and their reputation for being really picky in the selection of their scholars, there is so much pressure on RCA’s students to perform. Everyone expects to see amazing things from them, so perhaps its understandable that they might lose focus or buckle under the pressure, resulting in a dull show. 


    If you are reading this and teach at the RCA, I would propose that the institution allow their students to have their business cards next to their work. (  This will provided them with new prospects; not everyone wants to spend £2 on the catalogue, which in my opinion should be free, and ultimately you are doing a disservice to your students, who are missing out on opportunities! 


    I am soon going to work with some artists who have previously graduated from Glasgow School of Art and so this year I decided to pay a visit to the MA show for the first time. I am glad I did it. The vibe was electric and it almost felt like I was visiting a biennale, not for the high profile of the works, but for the thrilling environment. I lived an experience whilst I was enjoying the show. Thank you! The pieces themselves were quite good and the show certainly deserves a visit.


    To conclude I am going to say that across the shows I found many excellent artists and the Universities are doing a great job despite the recent cuts. The only common point it is unfortunately an old fashioned approach to bringing the audience to the student. I hope they will modernize their way of operating a little bit, making it easier for people to look up works online, find contact details at the same time making it easier for students to be selected for shows and sell their works.


    I am now looking forward to visiting Wimbledon College of Art and Central Saint Martins.


    Good luck to all the new graduates 2012! I have recently written a blog post on how to make an impression, ( have a look, I hope it can help you on the way.


    By Valentina Fois, director & curator, La Scatola Gallery