Blood, Sweat and Photoshop – Preparations for the Degree Show

Posted on April 21, 2014 | in Collections, Exhibitions, Featured, Library & University Collections, students | by

Tiina Lilja is a final year Painting student at Edinburgh College of Art. Earlier this year, we acquired two of Tiina’s paintings for the University Art Collection as she was an artist we had been following with interest for some time. As well as the physical art works, Tiina will also be providing us with unique insights into her career after graduation so that we get a sense of her working life post-Art School. In the first of these updates, Tiina writes about the lead up to the ECA Degree Show – the final and most significant part of the Art Student’s studies.

The Degree Show is due to open in just few weeks time and things here in the ECA are heating up: we, me and my fellow graduates to be, have been working hard to finish the pieces that are to be exhibited, we have met the external examiners, had our final tutorials and hopefully, yet not definitely, are all set to proceed with the installation of the show in the 5th of May.

First step in getting the degree show ball rolling is choosing the space you wish to use and writing a proposal outlining the reasons why you (or your group) should be given this particular spot. The Degree Show in ECA, mainly takes place in converted studios: partitions get taken down, new ones get built and everything gets a fresh lick of paint. The spaces vary, fortunately, so do the needs of different artists: some studios have more light, some have higher walls, some can be darkened etc.

Degree Show Proposal: listing my choices

I chose to apply for the Sculpture Court balcony, as my wish was to show my pieces on a single wall. The space seemed ideal for me regarding the length and height of the walls, lighting and visibility. Therefore my proposal contained technical details of the space I wanted, a list pieces I wished to exhibit, a justification, a map, and some very, hmmmn, skilfully photoshopped mock-ups on what the hanging would look like. A drawn plan would have been sufficient, but I liked the idea of seeing what the pieces would look like in that space.

Degree Show Proposal: hanging mock-up

Degree Show Proposal: hanging mock-up

Degree Show Proposal: Full mock-up

Degree Show Proposal: Full mock-up

Naturally, some proposals need more information that mine. Every feature that is not already in the space needs to be mentioned: if you want a wall built, write that you want a wall – if you need seven hundred dancing racoons, write that you are going to get some racoons. Be sensible, the College is not Santa – they will built partitions and give you paint for the walls, but the racoons, projectors, monitors etc. you need to sort out on your own.

Yeah, and the Health & Safety Man might need a word about those racoons…

When spaces have been appointed, things get a little simpler. I finished my last painting couple days ago and touched up all of the grotty corners and edges of old pieces. Then I let myself go nuts with bubble wrap. Like mommy used to say, better be safe than sorry when storage is concerned.

By now, I have also said goodbye to the studio I worked in since September for the clearing out to take place. But after being booted out, we can still work towards the show by ordering business cards, sorting out invites, planning the pricing of the work etc. There will be a week to get our spaces in order: a week of dense curating, fixing the walls, building our exhibits, crying, polishing, hammering, crying… and if I survive, I am hoping to see you all at the show!

Tiina Lilja

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