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Suddenly Last Summer 2019

Curated by Violet McClean, William Hernandez Abreu and Millie Lake


  • Event
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  • TheGallery


Exhibition Overview

Suddenly Last Summer 2019 is a curated selection of work from AUB’s 2019 graduating cohort. Showcasing over 500 artists, designers and makers, this is the biggest annual exhibition that TheGallery stages each year. This summer we celebrate the achievements of just over 1,300 students who will embark on their professional careers and further studies.

This year Suddenly Last Summer focuses on the ideas and concepts behind the work creating aesthetic experiences within an installation context. The exhibition features a wide selection of work from AUB’s Preparation for Higher Education (Foundation Diploma), BA (Hons) degree courses and Master's degree courses. Committed to the disciplines of art, design, media and performance, the graduate artists have come together in one show to embrace the creative spirit that characterises life at the Arts University Bournemouth.

Suddenly Last Summer 2019’s theme is dedicated to creating a series of immersive installations and experiences. Rather than a display of separate, individual artworks the viewer is taken on a journey as they travel from course to course, with the exhibition flowing as a unified experience. As Suddenly Last Summer is inclusive of the whole campus, TheGallery has embraced the concepts of space to showcase AUB as a diverse installation of places, people and their skills.

Each exhibition space has been defined and manipulated to create not only an aesthetic experience, but a conceptual experience, interacting with the site to define new spaces within TheGallery and AUB campus. By transforming these spaces, the objects within the installations have taken on new meanings, conjuring up new contexts and interpretations when they're viewed as one. With the space and its design being integral to how the viewer experiences the artwork, the whole meaning of each piece is heightened, and the viewer has a much more involved role.

Defying stereotypical assumptions of what an exhibition should look like, Suddenly Last Summer has rejected the image of plain white walls in favour of activating the space through colour and design. The viewer becomes a participant, with their experience becoming a work of art in its own right. Incorporating costume, fashion, fine art, design, illustration, graphics, film, video, recorded performance, sound, objects and architectural space, Suddenly Last Summer explores the idea of constructed realities, bringing the artwork and space within which it exists, alive.

This year’s exhibition is TheGallery’s most ambitious to date with over 500 students being included. The whole campus has been re-defined, immersing the viewer in an overwhelming and exciting environment. The Main Gallery has been turned into a display of colour and shapes with its very own catwalk and vast array of course-specific installations, while the Library has been brought to life with the addition of a number of miniature theatre sets. South House, University House and the Northwest Gallery have all been converted into site-specific exhibitions, with the curators responding to and re-shaping the pre-existing spaces.

The Context/Concept behind the Art Installation

Installation artworks (also sometimes described as environments) often occupy an entire room or gallery space that the spectator has to walk through in order to engage fully with the artwork. (from installation art by Tate.)

Installation art often reflects and responds to the world we live in, thereby creating an interesting fusion of art and life. We must remember that the elements in the installation space are not art objects in themselves; the participant’s experience is the work of art.

Since the 1960s, a new wave of artists has been transforming space into physical environments that defy realistic representation of recognisable environments. The physical space that these installation artworks inhabits often carries as much significance as the individual art object itself. The installation artist takes into account the viewer’s entire sensory experience.

Traditional artists were abandoning the sterile white walls and rectangular pedestals of the gallery in favour of an activation of the space between the walls, obscuring the line between the art object and its context, thus utilising the space the work inhabits to enhance meaning

The objects in an installation art space take on new meaning and the context of the elements defines the interpretation of the piece. Installation art often reflects and responds to the world we live in, thereby creating an interesting fusion of art and life. We must remember that the elements in the installation space are not art objects in themselves; the participant’s experience is the work of art. Ronald J. Onorato in the book, Blurring the Boundaries: Installation Art 1969-1996, states, “The aesthetic power of installation art does not reside in a singular, commodified object but in an ability to become, rather than merely represent, the continuum of real experience by responding to specific situations.”

Not surprisingly, by the 1970s we began to see installation artworks that seek to explore and satisfy the human desire to experience constructed realities. Artists incorporated film, video, performance, sound, objects, and architectural space to create complex aesthetic statements.

(From The Immersive Artistic Experience and the Exploitation of Space by Bonnie Mitchell)

Sarah Gomes Munro (2019)

This year TheGallery has commissioned Sarah Gomes Munro, BA (Hons) Illustration 2019 graduate, to create our exhibition branding which is an installation of people showing our diverse community.

Sam Prentice (2019)

Sam, BA (Hons) graduate 2019, has been commissioned to design the BA (Hons) Fashion installation in the Main Gallery.

Annabel Burkill (2018)

In 2018 TheGallery commissioned Annabel Burkill, BA (Hons) Illustration 2018 graduate, to design the flamingo wallpaper for BA (Hons) Photography. This image became the iconic symbol of Suddenly Last Summer 2018 and our 20th anniversary event.

Joseph Warin (2016–17)

Jo has been working for TheGallery on many projects since graduating from the Visual Communication BA (Hons) course including the main designs for Suddenly Last Summer 2016 and 2017.

Meet the Curators

With over 20 years of experience in the arts sector, Violet has worked with national and international collections, contemporary galleries and museums. She's the senior gallery officer at TheGallery, Arts University Bournemouth.

Violet has worked closely with AUB to establish TheGallery as a leading university gallery with an international reputation and extensive programme of exhibitions, events and publications.

In 2010 she was awarded a master’s degree in museum and galleries studies in curating, from University of Southampton. Violet’s research specialism is contemporary curatorship’s relationship to classical museum curating, focusing on the approaches of Alfred H. Barr, Jr founding director of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

William Hernandez Abreu has over 20 years of experience of working in performing arts; with a focus on dance, music and set design/making.

William is a music designer, curator and exhibition designer. He's currently the technician at TheGallery, Arts University Bournemouth. William is an active member of TheGallery Group and contributes to establish TheGallery as a leading university gallery with an international programme of exhibitions and events.

William Co–Curated Suddenly Last Summer 2018, with fellow Curator Violet M. McClean. He also designed and choreographed the dance for the Ancient Art of Rituals event that was a part of the Black Mirror: Magic in Art exhibition and documentary project. He produced the music and the concept for the Dazzle & The Art of Defence performance this year. Will was also the curator of the recent Hayward Touring Exhibition of Pop-Art pioneer Eduardo Paolozzi: General F.U.N.

William is responsible for the co-ordination, production, exhibition design and the technical delivery of TheGallery’s annual programme of exhibitions and events, and the care of the AUB and Arts Council collections. He's also the lead Technician on TheGallery’s Touring Exhibitions Programme.

Millie Lake has been studying at the university since 2015.

First completing her Foundation Diploma on AUB’s Preparation for Higher Education course, and graduated this year from AUB’s BA (Hons) Fine Art degree with First Class Honours.

It was during her Foundation year that Millie first got involved with TheGallery after curating a Fine Art Pathway exhibition alongside TheGallery’s Curator and Lead Technician, William Hernandez Abreu. Following the success of this exhibition, Millie completed a work placement with TheGallery once a week during the first and second year of her degree, and also acted as a front of house ambassador during gallery events.

Throughout her Fine Art degree, Millie’s own practice was concerned with the everyday and how mundane or ordinary situations can be brought into a new setting and artificially simulated. Millie often manipulated the exhibition site so that her art acted as an intervention within the space, playing with what the viewer expects from both a gallery setting in general and the specific institution in which the exhibition exists. The finished pieces are often research and labour intensive but are finished to appear simplistic to the viewer, creating a relationship where only viewers who take the time to investigate further get rewarded with understanding the concept of the work and the subtle sense of humour that comes with it.

Working in particular with installation art, Millie was able to use her own practical experience and research knowledge to curate the exhibitions within the Library and University House for Suddenly Last Summer 2019.

Something to think about

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