Eclectic designs on show at UCL Slade Print Fair
By news editor, on 29 November 2013
Written by Jordan Rowe, Editorial Worker for UCL Media Relations
The warehouse-style double gated lift that greets you upon arrival at the Slade Research Centre on Woburn Square is the first indication that things are done a little differently here, after all this is the renowned UCL Slade School of Fine Art. As you draw back the gates when reaching the fifth floor, you’re met with an array of donated works for sale decorating the bright white walls. This is the Slade Print Fair.
It’s the school’s first ever event of this kind – and hopefully not last – with all proceeds helping raise funds for future graduate scholarships. On display is work from alumni, students, staff and invited artists along with a full programme of print-related events and live demonstrations taking place until Saturday 30th November.
Over 170 of the works being showcased are available to purchase there and then, in addition to 32 pieces from established artists being auctioned online here. Moving around the floor, there’s definitely an emphasis on contemporary art, but a few period pieces have been mixed in, revisiting the lengthy history of the UCL Slade.
Arriving two hours into the opening day, the number of works already sold is surprising. The pieces range from around £20 all the way up to £5,000. The best way to understand the exhibition is by going through it one by one.
Everything is split into five rooms. As you enter, the first includes work from alumni of the school who’ve been nominated to participate by heads of areas. The aim is to swap them over each year. Of these, Glyth II by Larry Achiampong stands out. The British-Ghanaian artist hailing from the Slade has previously exhibited at the Tate, and this donated work is an intriguing commentary on appearance and culture in Britain through the medium of a single muse, referencing both blackface and the golliwog. Not everything is quite as provocative. Nicolas Feldmeyer’s donation uses a beautiful Giclée print to capture the moment last year where UCL’s Portico was woven in fabric.
In the same room are the fruits of the Slade’s partnership with the UCL Art Museum. One piece, ‘Crossing the Styx’ from Paula Rego, is a print made especially for the museum to help raise funds. The second is a reproduced ledger by Maria Farquhar, who did a live ‘forging’ of signatures on Thursday.
The second room gives us an idea of what’s taking place at the Slade today by looking into the past. The current archive project the Slade is running in conjunction with the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities is given much prominence. Next to it is a section dedicated to Slade Press, the in-house publishers at the school. On Friday, Roger McGough will launch the bound edition of his publication ‘The Long and Winding’. That event is free and open to all from 6pm, but tickets need to be claimed here.
The third room is slightly different, acting more like a gallery. This is where the work from invited artists is being shown. Names include David Batchelor, Dan Coombs, Angela de la Cruz and Richard Deacon, all of whom have donated prints to help fund the scholarships. Rather than being able to purchase these here, they are being auctioned online until the 7th December. Phyllida Barlow’s untitled print is accompanied by a video explaining her newest work – a bold use of block reds and black depicting a disjointed shadow.
Gavin Weber is in residence in the fourth room. The Slade alumnus is giving demonstrations of the process it takes to create prints. It’s a chance to see art in action and is also quite a bargain, as you can take something away for £20.
Finally we hit the staff and student area, with the work mixed up so it’s not immediately obvious whose work is whose. It exemplifies the eclectic nature of the Slade, with a wide range of ideas and styles being adopted across the room.
The fair is taking place until Saturday 30th November, and it is well worth a trip. Hot tip is to visit late on the final day to see two performances – one of Biters by Larry Achiampong and David Blandy, followed by Sound Objects by Ryan Riddingtion. Biters is billed as a quest for truth and authentic experience via the cultures that have influenced the artists, and an investigation into how our identities are influenced by everyday art forms, such as television and music. Sound Objects meanwhile is an audio essay of musical transformations.
The Slade Print Fair takes place until Saturday 30th November in the Slade Research Centre (Woburn Square, WC1H 0AB). The online auction ends on Saturday 7th December and can be found here. A list of remaining events can be viewed here.