Private View: Thursday 17th June, 4-8pm, Art Hub Gallery, Creekside, Deptford.
Art Hub Gallery, Deptford Lounge, Deptford X, hARTslane, No Format Gallery, Lewisham Arthouse
Public programme venues:
Jupiter Woods Gallery, Hill Station Community Cafe
The Alternative Degree Show manifests as an art trail across Lewisham Borough, including traditional art venues, public spaces, and community centres. It is a group project predicated on community building and the desire to allow art to breathe outside of the edu- cational institution. It includes the dynamic and exciting work of graduating students on the BA Fine Art & History of Art programme at Goldsmiths, University of London. Our show will coincide with the traditional degree show at Goldsmiths, however it will differ in all other ways. We hope it becomes its own entity, pitched against the shortcomings we perceive in our institution, the commercialisation of art’s education, its deemed unimportance in the eyes of the Tory Government and the entrenched problematics (such as racism and competitiveness) within the art industry as a whole.
Particular micro and macro socio-political events birthed this idea in the minds of a group of socially conscious final year students. The Global Pandemic, and its impact on arts education allowed us to ques- tion what a degree show means and, more important- ly, who it serves. The reinvigoration of the Black Lives Matter Movement coincided with allegations of insti- tutional racism impacting an invaluable tutor on our course Evan Ifekoya, and leading to their withdraw- al of labour. We are unsatisfied with Goldsmiths’ re- sponse to this incident, and their attempts at tackling institutional racism more widely.
Our show exists within Goldsmiths’ environs,and is conscious of this fact. We are working with cultural institutions such as London Community Video Archive, Women in Film SE15 and the Lewisham Migration Museum to create a public program alongside the exhibition, allowing us to work in and with our community to platform marginalised voices.
The recent Tory government initiative to halve funding for arts education, and our own Senior Management Team’s misrunning of our university have led to extensive strikes by overworked and underpaid staff. These issues have impacted us directly, and are symptomatic of a wider disregard for the value of creative education. We recognise the precariousness of working class students on arts/creative university courses, and want to actively resist the notion that art education is either valueless or elitist. We will not be showing in the Goldsmiths Degree Show, in an effort to highlight these failings, and create a new space for reimagining.
Ultimately, these events and uncontrollable circumstances have presented us with a space for questioning. We want to reframe the meaning of a ‘degree show’ within a wider context of contemplating ‘what kind of artists we want to be?’ Collectively, we have realised that genuine community engagement, conscious practice, and transparent commitment to our peers and our politics is paramount. The ‘Alternative Degree Show’ lays bare questions regarding Institutional Art Education, gentrification and racial discourses which have often been suppressed within canonical ‘art world’ narratives. Our show is a celebration of community and an attempt to unearth the pressing issues of our time, taking a purposeful look towards the future of arts education, ourselves as creators and the industry we are entering.
We are partnering with the following organisations in the facilitation of the Alternative Degree Show. Generous contributions extend to use of venues, in-kind support, AV loans, curatorial/event management advice and promotion:
Artist in Residence (AiR)
Collective Ending HQ
Hannah Barry Gallery
Hill Station Community Cafe
Jupiter Woods Gallery
No Format Gallery
People’s Heritage Museum of Deptford
The Albany/Deptford Lounge
Women in Film SE15
Goldsmiths Anti-Racist Action
The Rights Collective
London Community Video Archive