Tuesday saw the opening night of The Material, an exhibition hosted by the Edgar Wind Society at Freud. As President Tori McKenna explained, this was the first exhibition hosted by the Edgar Wind Society – I only hope they have many more to come, as the evening was an unequivocal success. Five artists presented work which ranged from thought-provoking and insightful videos from Irina Iordache (Christ Church) and Lili Pickett-Palmer, evocative sculptures and installations by Sonia Bernaciak (New) and Louisa Siem (St Catz) and an electrifying performance by Mateo Revillo (Christ Church) and Juluan Mignot, who came all the way from Paris to take part.
All five artists are studying at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, and whilst many of the audience were fellow pupils there, the exhibition also drew in a wide variety of other students, academics, and members of the public. One Somerville student described the exhibition as “so much fun”. “We just came out for a pint, and ended up amongst all this culture”, another explained to me. The Edgar Wind Society has certainly continued its work to make art accessible to everyone in this exhibition, with the artists on hand to talk the less art-literate amongst us (including myself) through their pieces. Sonia Bernaciak’s incisive explanation of her works ‘On the Revolution of Things’ which incorporated her fascination with the scientific, and what she referred to as her “naïve approach” to science, revealed the fundamental concepts behind her art. I was particularly taken with her installation of helium balloons and concrete/plaster sculptures (and accompanying video), which explored the tension between the possible and the impossible with gentle humour, as well as opening up the question of ‘materials’ suggested in the title of the exhibition. Louisa Siem also explored the idea of ‘materials’ with her pieces – for the full effect you have to go and see them, so I’m giving you no clues here!
The highlight of the evening was perhaps Mateo Revillo and Juluan Mignot’s performance, with sound also provided by Mignot. Right at the beginning of the evening, one Ruskin student expressed her excitement about the performance, and she was certainly not disappointed. As a masked performer (Revillo) crept around the stage, bringing the various sculptures to life, the powerful music broke over the crowd to create a beautiful and at times disorientating effect, which perfectly suited the vast space of Freud.
Tori McKenna’s obvious passion for creating a platform for artists from Ruskin has translated into a slick and well-curated exhibition which makes full use of the beautiful venue. Although Freud can be at times a large, cold, water hole, this exhibition brought an essence of warmth to the venue – the use of mirrors in many of the exhibits meant that although they were placed on the floor, they incorporated the whole height of the old church, which was a really effective use of the space. The warmth of members of the society, including Evie Hicklin (Treasurer) and Joshua Hill (Secretary), in welcoming visitors to the exhibition ensured a pervasive attitude of openness, and discussions of the art ranged around me which highlighted how impressed most of the people I spoke to were with the evening. Praise should certainly go to McKenna for such an enjoyable and interesting opening night.
The exhibition is open for the next three weeks, don’t miss it!