In the wake of the devastating fire at the Glasgow School of Art's Charles Rennie Mackintosh building, the degree show got a rethink. Since the exhibition was imminent at the time of the fire, a large amount of student work was also in the building and was subsequently lost. In that way, the loss was twofold. Not only did the Mac suffer, but artists' work they'd built up in the last four years was lost as well.
How the college elected to handle the fine art degree show, on from 14-21 June, reflects a dedication to the students and to the building as well: all student work (aside from the MFA which is on display at another location, the Glue Factory), is presented in the form of digital photographs. It's more of a showcase than an exhibition, more or less allowing students to give a glimpse of their practice and the ability to share contact cards, which are stacked next to the baseboards on the floor. The photos themselves can be purchased for £500, proceeds of which go to the fund to restore the school, in addition to a catalogue of all of the images for a £40 minimum donation which also funds this project.
If you go expecting a degree show, that's not what you'll find. What you will get is a testament to hard work and a dedication to the college and the community. Bursaries were announced to assist students who lost work, and an opportunity to show original work will come in due time. Degree shows have the ability to set artists on their paths, and in some cases make careers. They are platforms to leap from, and Glasgow School of Art is devoted to its students and their success. The showcase manages, most importantly, to express a sense of community, a sort of we're-in-this-togetherness.
The building suffered the loss if its original library (furniture and all), and it is certainly a sad sight--the cranes and work crew clearing charred debris is a somber backdrop to the degree show across the street in the gleaming new Reid Building. In the fine art show, the attitude is appropriately solemn and contemplative, but also a bit confusing. Dealing with this unprecedented loss is just as confusing and emotional, and it's fitting that the show reveals that.
If you find yourself in Glasgow, I would urge you to check out the showcase, and the rest of the degree show for some really fine work. Information can be found here.