Exhibition: Growth and Decay

The UCLU Art Society collaborates with our campus’ finest creatives for this art extravaganza.

Living in London means we are spoilt for choice when its comes to the array of art on offer, but little do you know there is an artist hub lurking around our very own cloisters and classrooms. After three successful years in business, the UCLU Art Society collaborated with sponsor’s School For Creative Startups on their first exhibition, which celebrated and brought together the talented pool of artists hiding away at UCL. From architects, mathematicians to medics and archaeologists to name only a few, the Art Society’s adventurous and professional executed exhibition, staged in Mully’s Basement Bar, was a showcase of diverse artwork of UCL students under the umbrella theme of ‘Growth and Decay’.

Last Light
“When you isolate a single moment in time, who can say whether you are looking at something that is in growth or decay, or whether either can take place?”
Olivia Hong-Yee Pang (MBBS Medicine, 1st Year)

Selected as a theme for its flexibility and versatility as a subject matter, ‘Growth and Decay’ gave great scope for the artists, who all come from varying academic backgrounds, to approach the topic as they wished using a wide range of media. Judges Doug Richard (successful entrepreneur and founder of School for Startups), aspiring anthropologist Timothy Carroll, Lauren Wilson- a current MA sculpture student at the Slade and London based graphic designer Clover Stevens had the tough decision of awarding 5 prize-winners among the 24 entries.

Skeleton House
“I was inspired by translating the beauty of what is perceived as being useless.”
Cassidy Reid (Bsc Architecture, 2nd Year)

In joint third place were Cassidy Reid’s painting (Bsc Architecture, 2nd Year) Skeleton House commenting on the correlation between buildings and the human body in the way time causes us to decay, Last Light- Olivia Hong-Yee Pang’s (MBBS Medicine, 1st Year), digital photograph/photomontage that assimilates the constructive nature of growth and the stagnation of decay, and Nathan Moriaty’s (BSc Mathematics, 3rd Year) wood and bricks installation sourced entirely from the Thames BRIC that acts as a physical commentary on the political and natural process of growth and decay.

“The Thames slowly restores these manufactured materials, having served their purpose, to their natural states. I felt that decay being witnessed was analogous to the change in the output of Britain’s manufacturing sector.”
Nathan Moriaty (BSc Mathematics, 3rd Year)

Caspar Horton-Kitchlew (BSc Architectural Studies, 2nd year) took home second prize with his mixed media Urban Geode. A rusted exhaust pipe taken from Euston Road with crystal minerals growing within, Kitchlew’s work is a symbol of how even in pollution and urban degeneration, growth can occur.

Urban Geode
“Among these symbols of decay, grows a crystal mineral, a symbol of how precious growth can occur in even the most decayed and polluted environment.”
Casper Horton-Kitchlew (BSc Architectural Studies, 2nd year)

Last but not least was overall exhibition winner Alex Daish (BA History of Art with Material Studies, 2nd year), who was awarded first prize for his Proposed United Nations Flag (in light of Amstell’s ‘Numb’: Rejected. Inspired by comedian Simon Amstell’s saying at his last Edinburgh show about how flawed the nature of nation states are as we all come from our mother’s vagina, Daish’s series of printed emails documented his attempt to get Courbet’s once-branded pornographic ‘Origin of the World’ printed on a flag. Intelligent and amusing, Daish’s courageous piece was a deserved winner that inventively looked at the subject at hand.

Proposed United Nations Flag (in light of Amstell’s ‘Numb’: Rejected
“Courbet’s work was a new birth of realism as well as being an image of woman-hood that although once pornography is now seen as art. However London’s commercial flagmakers did not see it that way and all declined to manufacture it in my behalf.” Alex Daish (BA History of Art with Material Studies, 2nd year)

Admittedly, knowing it was the first of its kind made me slightly apprehensive about how successful the exhibition would turn out, but such worries were futile as this was an impressive and well-thought out display of the best UCL has to offer. It is clear how hard the Art Society worked to pull off such a sophisticated and intelligent art display. From the transformation of Mully’s into the next Saatchi Gallery, to providing live entertainment throughout the night with a music competition and the curating of the wide range of work on display, every detail was carefully composed.

For art lovers around UCL ‘Growth and Decay’ would have been a real treat, and for those not so keen, a great introduction into the all-encompassing field of art no matter your chosen discipline. Exhibition Director Hana Mori actually stated during the evening that the aim of the exhibition was to demonstrate the ‘point’ of art to those sceptical of its worth and show how it has a place within academia. Undoubtedly this bold display did exactly that. If you weren’t lucky enough to get a ticket for this private viewing that honoured the multi-disciplinary spectrum of UCL, then unfortunately it is your loss as it ran for one-night only. However, with the success of the event and the showcase of enormous talent, here’s to bigger and better Art Society exhibitions to come!

Event Directors: Laura Douglas and Hana Mori

Exhibition Curators: Emma Wong, Alice Miracoli, Chloe Ho, Azmina Abdulla and Angelina Ronkina

Entertainment: Rubin and the Groovy Tuesdays, SOLO, More Ice and Honey, Ani Petite, and Platypus Bear