Two BA Fine Art graduates have been selected for a prestigious award that showcases the finest emerging visual artists in the South East region
Rachel Mortlock and Carol Abell will now have their degree work exhibited at the Aspex Gallery in Portsmouth after being chosen for the Platform Graduate Award 2018 run by CVAN South East.
A total of thirty-three graduates picked from 17 universities will have their work shown at five galleries, with one artist from each gallery being nominated for the award.
The exhibitions will run from September until January next year and the overall winning artist will be announced on 17 November by guest selector, artist Harold Offeh.
Speaking about her good news, Rachel said: “I am thrilled to have been selected for this year’s Platform Graduate Award 2018.
“Having recently graduated from AUB, starting a career as an artist is very daunting and knowing where to begin is difficult. Therefore, having been chosen to exhibit my work outside of the university is a great opportunity to showcase my work to a broader audience.”
Rachel says her artwork explores domestic space and our associations with the function of furniture and architecture within it.
She makes sculptures compiled of a bricolage of DIY materials, reminiscent of furniture and aspects of architecture, whilst decisively refusing to function in the same way. Through the creation of dysfunctional furniture and sculpture, Rachel says she draws attention to a specific use of materials, alluding to a function within the work and functions that exists outside of the work.
For example, her recent work “Cove” juxtaposes a vast pristine tiled surface with the bare CLS and MDF framework that supports them – the four segments positioned to echo remnants of an architectural detail.
Paying tribute to her time at AUB, Rachel said: “The creation of my work was possible due to the new CNC Router in the AUB digital workshop that has enabled me to produce complex tile moulds.
“Harry and Freddie, the digital workshop technicians together with the Fine Art technicians, Annie, Emily H, Emily F and Pat have helped and supported me enormously with the production of my work and throughout my degree, for which I am incredibly grateful.
“The Fine Art students are very lucky to have such an amazing, kind and supportive staff team, both specific to the course and in the workshop.”
Describing the news as an “unexpected shock”, Carol said: “This sort of thing has never happened to me. I had just got over obtaining a much higher grade for my work in the final marks at the end of the Fine Art degree course than I ever thought possible.
“Then I received an email from the organisers of the Platform Graduate Award 2018, telling me I had been selected to be in the exhibition at the Aspex Gallery in Portsmouth.
“When the Fine Art degree started I went up to Portsmouth with my husband to visit the Aspex Gallery – looking round all the exhibits it never even entered my head that one day I might have my work hung up there.
“It is a real honour for me to get this chance to show my work as part of Platform and who knows what will happen now.
“I have to give a lot of the credit to everyone, including the supportive younger students at AUB and my husband Chris.
“They have not only given me a qualification but also confidence I have never had in myself.
“From the Library, Student Support, the grounds team for making life easier as a wheelchair user, the technicians, and of course the great tutors of the Fine Art department, they have all helped get me to this extraordinary crossroads in my life.”
Carol says her relationship with art began 10 years ago following a succession of mental health admissions to hospital.
Finding she “came back to reality” in the art room, it was suggested she use art as part of her therapy so she joined the mental health outreach art group.
This led to an A-level and a foundation course at AUB, before applying to do a part-time BA (Hons) Fine Art degree at AUB.
The AUB graduate says her art has “evolved into a position of inspiration for the subject of place, time, belonging in the landscape”.
While researching her birth village of Milton Abbas, Dorset, she came across the fact that 100 years ago in nearly every cottage the women would spend the time making Dorset buttons to make a small income for the household.
She said: “By coincidence I also came across an advert for Dorset button making. This has really inspired the three pieces.
“It is also 100 years since the suffragettes got the vote for women, so my first large button is in their colours.
“The second button is a linocut of my great grandad 100 years ago ploughing a field on the farm that is now Hurn (Bournemouth airport). The plane in the sky represents the large aircraft that now fly off from the airport.
“And the third and final button is a map of Dorset around 100 years ago with many features we now recognise as being part of the Dorset countryside.”
Paul Hobson, Director of Modern Art Oxford and Chair of CVAN South East, said: “Now in its seventh year, Platform once again shines a light on the region’s brightest talents, stimulating artist networks and revealing the high quality and diversity of practice that has emerged from seventeen participating art schools.”
Talking about the pair’s nominations, BA (Hons) Fine Art course leader, Richard Waring, said: “The Fine Art staff team were thrilled to hear that Rachel Mortlock and Carol Abell were selected for the 2018 Platform Graduate Award, especially as they are very different types of artist.
“Rachel has a fascination with hard-edged modernist structures and relishes the challenge of constructing an ambitious hand-built sculpture.
“Carol on the other hand investigates the idiosyncratic and mysterious histories of Dorset folklores that have a connection to her own lived and geographic experience.
“We wish them both every success with their exhibition.”
Find out more about BA (Hons) Fine Art at AUB.