The Glasgow School of Art degree show is considered one of the best in the country, and its right on your doorstep, so if you’ve got an afternoon to spare (or if you’re feeling a bit culturally destitute at the moment) make an afternoon trip to Garnethill and spend a few hours soaking it all in.
The regular studio spaces in the GSA’s historic Mackintosh Building have been sub-divided into interlocking pods and corners, each occupied by a student from the fine art department. It’s a battery farm approach to gallery space (the first thing that will strike you when you arrive is the sheer volume of work on display) but don’t be daunted: the quality of work spread over the four floors is very high.
Each room contains a selection from each of the schools main disciplines: painting, photography and sculpture. Installations sit well with the two dimensional pieces, and make a well curated show that isn’t at all monotonous to work your way through. All of this is aided by the architectural brilliance of the Mackintosh Building, which is completely open to the public for the duration of the show, and worth the trip in its own right!
There are some duds: a few finger paintings (it turns out some of the jokes about the GSA are true), a few works that are slightly too familiar (“did I not see that in GOMA a few months ago?”) and a few pieces that are just far too cryptic to yield any sort of interesting interpretation. In general though there are pieces for every level of accessibility, from “pretty” to “challenging”, and with some thought, anyone will be able to find something to appreciate.
My personal favourites? I felt more relaxed than I have in weeks lying flat on my back on a beanbag, watching Heather Batchelor’s stop motion film of a degenerating photocopied image. Find that in the little balcony viewing room in studio 48.
For me though the most rewarding of them all was an installation by Emma Reid in studio 45. To describe it would ruin the initial pleasure of realising what was going on, but an apparently empty balcony yields some interesting surprises. It stuck with me, and kept asking questions; even once I’d moved on to the basement, to look at a giant stuffed ginger gorilla.
The GSA Degree show is open 10am – 9pm, through till June 16. If the fine art show wasn’t enough, you can walk next door to see the offerings from the architecture department, or down to the Skypark campus for the design school.