In 2016 Leeds College of Art celebrated 170 years of delivering art education in the city. Founded in 1846, the organisation has contributed significantly to the development of creative tuition in Britain and across the world. A final alumni exhibition brings the anniversary commemoration to a close, a trio of female contemporary artists who studied at the college and are now successful in the industry, Georgina Starr, Liz West and Georgia Lucas-Going, come together to create Colour Wheel. Working with colour, performance and sound, the show demonstrates the reach, ambition and pioneering values of the school.
The concluding event takes its overarching title from West’s installation Our Colour Wheel, in which the artist goes back to the literal and pedagogical foundation of creative practice in the use of the colour circle as a teaching tool. 17 other curators and figures from both the industry and West’s life contribute their personal vision of the concept to the display; these additions are identically framed and installed in a grid format.
The central concept is also recurrent in the work from the other alumni. Lucas-Going’s art takes inspiration from the artist’s mixed-race heritage and issues surrounding growing up in Leeds as a woman of colour. Starr examines the concept of the wheel in her piece consisting of a LP record and turntable with which visitors can engage; a whistling rendition of Yesterday by the Beatles accompanies the display and echoes throughout the space. The artist is known for complex and fragile emotional narratives, in this piece the combination of sound and installation work together to create a nostalgic sense of her time at the college. A selection of short-filmed performance is also featured as part of the exhibition; in the preview Starr gives a 15-minute routine wrestling with a chair as a symbolic representation of the familial struggles with her grandmother.
Colour Wheel is the final instalment in a series of alumni group programmes that have been held throughout the year at the historic Vernon Street Gallery. The anniversary project celebrates the diverse and innovative careers of past students and staff over the last 170 years.
Colour Wheel, 15 December-27 January, Leeds College of Art, Vernon Street Gallery. For more information visit: www.leeds-art.ac.uk
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1. Liz West Our Spectral Vision (2016).