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Reading Art students Overcome COVID-19 Lockdown To Produce ‘most provocative show yet’

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Brand new artwork produced during the COVID-19 lockdown by talented University of Reading students is being revealed to the public this week in an unusual virtual exhibition.

Reading Art students

The annual degree show by the Reading School of Art – this year entitled Asbestos Streams – will be exhibited on social media this year due to the pandemic. Many of the exhibits will be displayed in the homes of the artists themselves, providing a glimpse into how the students have remained creative and overcome challenging circumstances to produce spectacular final pieces.

Reading Art Students Exhibits

Among the exhibits will be paintings and installations displayed in kitchens, hallways and gardens, reflecting how students have turned their homes into art studios under the expert guidance of tutors at the University.

Reading Art students

The students have each been taking over the @asbestos_streams Instagram account in the lead up to the exhibition opening, which will be live streamed on the @unirdgart Facebook page on Friday 5 June at 5pm. There will also be opportunities to ask the students questions about their work. The exhibition can then be accessed via the Asbestos Streams YouTube channel.

Reading Art students

Rachel Garfield

Rachel Garfield, Head of the School of Art at the University of Reading, said: “We are totally impressed with how our students have risen to the challenge of recent events, demonstrating so well how art teaches resourceful creativity.

“This unique digital exhibition will celebrate the students’ ongoing success and the innovative ways we have all found of working and coming together during its creation. All students and staff have been experimenting with different materials and techniques in very personal settings during lockdown, so this degree show promises to be no less spectacular and perhaps the most provocative show yet.”

Rae Clark

Rae Clark, 22, a Fine Art and English Literature finalist from Stevenage, created detailed miniature sculptures, such as foam mushrooms inspired by some found on the Whiteknights campus, at their student house in Reading. They transformed their bedroom into an atmospheric installation made up of these and other intricate pieces, reflecting how the natural world is made up of many small parts.

Rae said: “I’m used to our fantastic studio space and workshop, not to mention the brilliant teaching fellows to help me troubleshoot, but I’ve had so many zoom calls with them, both to help me with work but also to stay in contact.

“I found that the personal, domestic setting really added to the vulnerability and softness in my work, which is so personal already. I’m really interested in the ways we situate ourselves in our bodies, in our homes and in the wider world. We often forget that we aren’t just lonely individuals all the time, we’re a part of our surroundings, even in quarantine.”

Christine Glover

Christine Glover, 22, an Art and History of Art finalist from Cyprus, produced imaginative paintings of her friends on canvas at her student apartment near Cemetery Junction. Collectively, they form a large yet fragile house of cards, created in her kitchen, which represents the uncertainty and instability of seemingly stable relationships and situations like the pandemic.

She said she was excited to be holding the degree show online as it will allow the students to enjoy the valuable experience of holding an exhibition, in spite of the circumstances.

Christine said: “I was able to create during the pandemic due to the therapeutic nature that art has to me personally. I turned almost my entire apartment into an art studio and worked daily on painting the new canvases for my structure, Obelisk.

“There was definitely a different dynamic creating work at home rather than in the studio. I thankfully had support from my personal tutor, and being able to communicate with my other peers online was actually helpful. We were all in it together, and by sharing our circumstances it felt like we were more united.”

For more on how the students have kept the art studio spirit thriving during lockdown, visit the @unirdg_art Instagram page or use the hashtag #rsaathome.