What is the different between fine art and craft? The dividing line seemed virtually invisible at the Foundation Degree show in Fine Art Contemporary Practice and in Craft at Sussex Coast College. Traditionally craft has been applied to the creation of objects which may have utilitarian function or be decorative, which are hand produced and where the creation requires a learnt skill which adheres to certain standards, whilst the term art is applied to works which have a meaning, which express emotion and which communicates with viewers. There is supposed to be a difference in the way the objects are created; craft is more structured; art is more open-ended. As I looked round exhibition I found myself checking labels to see whether works were produced by Craft students or by Fine Artists. There were some surprises: that is the way it should be. Here are a few of the works:
I particularly liked Gilles Buxton’s heads – somewhat eerily mounted on sticks as though severed from their bodies and acting as a warning to potential transgressors.
Robert Dennis’ work focuses upon the textures of the natural world, displayed through castings, rubbings and film. Both Dennis and Buxton were undertaking the FDA in craft.
The 100 lucky golden bears by Lyn Dale on the other hand were from the art side. I must admit to a partiality to the bears having found one.They were hidden about the college and the finders were invited to write in with their comments.
They are supposed to bring the holders luck and who knows perhaps they will. The 100th bear was splendidly presented gleaming under a glass box on a black plinth. The comments of the finders were displayed on a nearby screen and some can also be seen on the lucky bear website. My bear at least for the time being is sitting on the nose of the stuffed alligator on the mantlepiece. Here to prove it is a picture.
Two contrasting films caught my eye. Deborah Ward’s Voices in Trauma shows a woman on two screens; in each case she appears gagged by something which we can’t quite identify – an insect perhaps; it juts out of her mouth; it is both fascinating and disturbing
Also exploring the idea of being trapped but in a very different way was Shammi Begum’s film about child brides. A figures moves inside what could be a bridal gown or perhaps a shroud and she cannot escape.
Film was part of Frith Lawson-Johnson ‘s A Marriage of Waves. Wires have been stretched between two groynes; they mimic the pattern of her brain waves as revealed on an EEG scan. Lawson-Johnson suffers from epilepsy and the wires appear to oscillate alarmingly though how different they are from the brain waves of those who do not have epileptic episodes I could not judge. On the film we see the sea come in and engulf them. Lawson Johnson explains that in a world that has become so fast paced we have forgotten the forces around us that affect the way we think and act. By connecting her brain waves to the sea she is connecting with the power that nature has on us and is redressing the balance.