Sheffield Hallam University’s Fine Art Degree Show is pointing artists away from the clever-clever conceptual art of sharks, sheep and unmade beds of the past few years and towards a softer more generous and audience-centred art, says the mature student and artist known as Bird Lovegod – Really.
“I think that for around 1,000 years conventional art was about an ideal of beauty and the skill of the artist but there has been this little blip over the last 50 or 60 years where it has been all about ideas,” said 39-year-old Bird who in previous lives described himself as a street artist, ex-hippy and former sales director.
“It has been very interesting but is quite dismissive of the audience. But now we are combining the two, taking ideas and making them beautiful through the skill and craft of the artist.
“We call it conceptual aesthetism which means taking a concept and transforming that into a visual aesthetic that is beautiful.”
Oh, er, right then.
“There are about 60 pieces in the show on two sites – one at S1 Art Space near Devonshire Green and the other in Arundel Gate Court. The show gives a good cross-section of the creative output of our year. We have video, photography, sculpture, and a resurgence of painting.”
And may also be hoping for – The Diary couldn’t resist – money for old rope.
“An artist called Vicky Haywood has a kilometre of string and rope hanging from the ceiling onto some speakers in the S1 Artspace that resound and make the rope move with the vibrations,” adds Sheffield-born Bird who spent much of his adult life in London.
On a smaller scale an artist called Jonathan Wynn has made his stuff difficult to find because it blends in with the room. It’s called the subtle power series.
“He has done plaster power points and though I can’t say much more there might be a radiator or two around the place that are actually art works.
“I think the new spirit is there within a lot of artists who are disillusioned with art as it is now.
“Disillusionment from people who think the aesthetic should be more generous to its audience and give something to them rather than winning applause for the cleverness of the artist or the curator.
“In this current economic climate where art has to justify itself, if it is bringing beauty to the world it gives something of value and is able to transform a space into something beautiful then it has real value.
“The harsh art of cleverness and ideas has come to an end. That was from a different generation, from a different time.
“That came from a boomtime and Cool Britannia but we have been in a recession for six years and it’s not about that any more. There is a great legacy but these times need an art movement to represent the and one that can uplift.
“We don’t need more art about ‘broken Britain’ we need solutions. I’m putting out a magazine with these ideas in as part of my degree work.
“It is very traditional approach and shows how far the art world has moved away from that tradition that ideas like these are considered radical.”