Spend some time with us, slow down and give it a little squeeze

This year’s BA Fine Art Degree Show — SQUEEZE — has been drawing in visitors to the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies since opening its doors to the public earlier this month.

In this exhibition, taking part across spacious studios and common spaces in the School, 58 artists consider what can be achieved through unpacking the moment, flirting with it and kneading it for answers.

Standing apart from the traditional format of Degree Shows, SQUEEZE has been entirely organised and curated by the students, from start to finish.

Abigail Harrison Moore, Head of the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies, said:

“The Degree Show is always one of the highlights of the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies year, and the 2018 Show is fantastic.

“The students are tasked with working together to produce all aspects of the exhibition, from curating 58 individual artists’ works into a coherent whole, to fundraising, to communications and publicity — and they have risen to this challenge brilliantly, with the support of their dedicated tutors.

“From SQUEEZE TV, a live broadcast in April that drew attention to the show, to this final production, they have proven themselves to be creative, thoughtful, enthusiastic, fun and unafraid of sheer hard work. The students have produced an incredibly thoughtful and contemporary exhibition that speaks to their research led teaching, and also demonstrates their ability to deal with challenging issues in a playful and contemplative way.

“I am very proud of them all and encourage everyone to come and see how they have transformed our building by filling it with the outcomes of three to four years intense practice and thinking at the University of Leeds.”

The curatorial team for this year’s Degree Show was co-ordinated by final year BA Fine Art students Sophie Bullen and Ollie Getley.

Sophie Bullen said:

“The experience of curating SQUEEZE, alongside developing our own work as individual artists, has been really exciting.

“We began working on the curation of the BA Fine Art Degree Show quite some time ago, and the curatorial team have spent a lot of time meeting with each of the artists to get to know their work and watch it develop over time.

“Familiarising ourselves with the work of all the students graduating this year allowed us to start the process of deciding what would be included in the exhibition and where it would be best placed in the spaces within the School.”

SQUEEZE was formally opened on 6 June by Professor Griselda Pollock, Professor of the Social & Critical Histories of Art at the University of Leeds. Griselda has worked in the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies (originally the Department of Fine Art) for 41 years.

Griselda Pollock said:

“It was a delicious honour to be invited to open this year’s BA Fine Art Degree Show, SQUEEZE. I have come to know many of the finalists over this year through working with them in the studios, on new projects such as Operatunity (with Sam Belinfante) and through a new project I call ‘intergenerational sharing’.

“One of the main reasons for my fidelity to this creative and academic School is precisely that alliance of creative practice in fine art with historical-theoretical analysis of art. It is such a rare combination, which can at times pull students in different directions, making contrary demands on each of them.

“This year marks only the second year of our occupation of a dedicated Fine Art building that houses our studios alongside our seminar rooms, with each activity linked across one common room and its neighbouring Project Space.

“For the 2018 Show, students have remade the entire building, intervening in its internal spaces and on its surfaces, filling its corridors and staircases with sound — acknowledging this expanding dimension of fine art practice — using moving image and exploding into space with bold sculptural installations, while also re-claiming radical traditions of word art.

“Creating the Show as a whole so that each work has the space it needs, each set of conversations between works are mutually beneficial, and that enables the spaces to support the nature of each work — all this has been the work of a dedicated curatorial team whom I wish to congratulate. It is one of the most difficult of tasks and demands extraordinary subtlety, respect and imagination.

Kirsten Sinclair with Made in Leeds TV (Squeeze 2018)“The visitors to SQUEEZE will not only wonder at individual works, but should recognize the professional skills at work in creating not just a degree show for every one of the 58 finalists, but a show of contemporary art that graces the city of Leeds and takes its place nationally.

“I wish to congratulate all the students on their three or four years spent with us in this School, to celebrate the work of the curatorial team, to thank the amazing technicians in this School who underpin this vast project of realizing and making art with dedication of time and energy and resourcefulness beyond the call of duty. I also want to acknowledge the extraordinary commitment and hard work of the Fine Art staff who manage the complexity of delivering these four degrees with such endless commitment and dedication.”

SQUEEZE opened up its doors to the public on 7 June and continues to 23 June. The exhibition is free is open daily from 11am to 6pm.