Now that the OUSA Art Week festivities have wound down for another year, I think it's safe to say that the events were a fantastic success once again. Awesome work all you painters, sculptors, sketchers, jewellers, activists, volunteers, and other art-lovers! It was a fabulous five days which helped to make the end of winter a little bit more bearable.
If you didn't manage to make it to the student art exhibition and sale, then you missed out big time! We had a spectacular range of works this year, with incredible levels of artistic skill and drive demonstrated across the gallery. Something which is so great about student art is its freshness, energy and earnestness—with a decent serving of angst thrown in for good measure. Typography, large-scale abstraction, photography, intricate ink drawings, Cubist explorations, Pointillism, sculpture, and Impressionism filled Union Hall with a marketplace vibe of everything under the scarfie sun. There are so many great pieces which I would love to review in depth, from the gorgeous paintings of Lim Yang Wei and the adorable illustrations of Olivia Andrews, through to the contemplative dark horse sculpture of Tori Clearwater and jewellery by Yuval Yagolnitzer.
I was pleased to see a great range of activist works this year, chiefly addressing issues of climate change, fossil fuels, and feminism. Sarah Baird’s striking typographical/illustration works were among the first which caught my eye here, with Smile bluntly warning that “telling me to smile will not get you anywhere”, evoking laughter from fellow viewers but also touching on important social expectations. Kate Cockroft’s Divest also demanded attention with its grounded and grungy call for “DEATH TO FOSSIL FUELS”, in which collaged text pours over a fallen earth mother. Another work, Motto, also dealt with fossil fuels, bringing to attention the University of Otago’s refusal to take a stance on this serious issue.
I could spend pages discussing all the things I loved about the show, but for the sake of your sanity and the size of this page I’ll just pay one final mention to the humbly sized yet astoundingly executed paintings of Ellie Cathman. A Dedicated and Precise Set of Acts and The Fearfulness of Open-Hearted Vision perfectly encapsulated the light, movement, and genuine emotion of individuals in a fluid painterly style. Almost reminiscent of Degas, these two works truly stood out in terms of their poignancy, natural energy, and confident realisation.
However you chose to take part in OUSA Art Week 2016—whether you created a masterpiece for the student art exhibition and sale, scoffed snacks at the gallery crawl, or doodled your name on the giant colouring page in the Link—cheers for making the week what it was. Time to pack away the Crayolas until next year!
Photo: Trevor Cokley