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College Fine Arts Degree show has a presence of playfulness

Date: 25 May 2023

Slideshow of some of the 2023 Fine Arts final year students in the studio space

Orkney College UHI Fine Arts degree show – final year art show has presence of playfulness

The Orkney public will be treated to a degree show of the highest calibre, when final year BA Fine Art students at Orkney College show their works in June.

Showcasing the work of six based final year students, ‘Presence and Place’ has a strong sense of playfulness and hope following the challenges of the pandemic.

Curriculum Leader for Arts and at Orkney College UHI, Anne Bevan, says the public are in for a unique experience:

“Our Fine Arts students gain a really wide range of experience through their course, and this is reflected in their work. They have access to a wealth of specialist expertise here in Orkney, and to tutors across the UHI network and internationally renowned visiting artists.”

The students exhibiting include (pictured left to right below) Beccy Mooney, Janine Smith, Elizabeth Bowen, Barbara Morrison, Molly Shearer.

Photo of some of the students showing their work in this year's Orkney College UHI Fine Arts Degree show

Cordelia Underhill is Course Leader in Orkney and has been working closely with the students throughout their degree: “This degree show shows an exciting breadth of approaches to making and thematic choices.

“The work ranges from painting, photography, installation, textiles and ceramics with experimental takes on all these practices. And the concerns reflected in this exhibition demonstrate a rethinking of traditions of art within the circumstances of our contemporary world including repurposing, faith in the future, relationships between memory, process and landscape, and the resurgence of surrealist and abstract thinking.

“As with the students completing their degrees over the past few years these students have had to deal with the challenges and changes to study conditions brought on by the fallout from the pandemic. Despite this they have all been resilient and resourceful developing diverse and individual visual vocabularies.

“There is a hopeful, and at times playful, tone to this exhibition which does something towards restoring wonder to the world.”

The Fine Arts degree exhibition will be open to the public from Saturday 10 June – Saturday 17 June.

Opening times: Daily 11.00 - 5.00pm; Wednesday: 11.00 – 7.00pm; Closed on Sundays.

This year’s degree show will also be available digitally again via a wider UHI collaboration with the campuses in Orkney, Shetland, North Uist and Moray, opening the show up to a keen international audience discovered and strengthened over the past three years of online exhibitions.

The Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art (BA Fine Art) at Orkney College UHI can be undertaken full time or part time. To find out more and to apply, visit, or contact the course leader Cordelia Underhill to discuss.

All the BA graduates this year first studied the NC Art and Design (Portfolio) at SCQF Level 6 Course at Orkney College before going on to do the BA Degree. NC Art and Design at SCQF Level 6.

Orkney College UHI also offers highly popular Masters courses – the MA Contemporary Art and Archaeology and MA Art and Social Practice. These online courses are available for graduates with a BA to study - currently the College has around 80 students from across the world.

Students speaking more about their work:

Elizabeth Bown:

Materials such as clay have a history and a connection to place, and this story is continued through the process of making. As a novice ceramicist there are many imperfections, cracks and wobbles in the work I produce, and these flaws add another layer of narrative. The immense potential for transformation is implicit in the material and can be extrapolated easily to the human condition. Inspired by my Christian faith, and the Bible message of Good News, I want my art to be uplifting and give people hope. To this end I celebrate the broken and discarded and, in my work, find their beauty.

Molly Shearer:

My work explores my connection to, and place within, the Orkney landscape. From the shapes, colours, and lines of the environment itself, to the folklore, storytelling, and history of the place, I aim to create artworks that reflects and builds upon the dialogue between myself and the landscape. By combining my material choices and processes, such as using second hand thread and fabric, paper off cuts and naturally dyeing yarn alongside the slow, meditative process of hand textiles, I work towards developing a slow and sustainable art practice which communicates with my natural surroundings.

Barbara Morrison:

My work is all about dreams and the subconscious, and the hidden thoughts and feelings that lurk beneath the everyday veneer of that which we perceive to be ‘reality’. While there are serious intentions behind the work, I use a certain amount of humour through the painting, drawing and textiles that I use to make it more accessible and to bring my ideas to life.

Beccy Mooney

My work is a constant exploration of how I view the world through my lens. Living in Orkney, the colour-changing sky and land inspire me daily, particularly that of the twilight period. I investigate the limitations that emerge when photographing in long, dark winter nights with my analogue camera. Through these ‘failures’ there are satisfactory results too. Reflecting on these outcomes, in my line drawings I continue to exercise the possibilities or impossibilities of framing the blue space.

Janine Smith

In my work I am exploring the way in which memory can be held within the landscape. Through photography and mixed media, I record the shapes and patterns I see around me every day. The fields, fences, stone dykes, clusters of farm buildings; the old is very evident contrasting with the new in the Orkney landscape. The small intricate details of plants, grasses, spider webs, and butterflies intrigue me. The sea and sky are always surrounding me, the beaches, stones, shells, and sand.

  • Summary:

    The Orkney public will be treated to a degree show of the highest calibre, when final year BA Fine Art students at Orkney College show their works in June.

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    • Arts, Museums and Heritage
    • Education
    • Events
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