:’-) ? ¯\_(?)_/¯ 😉 😐 :’D -_- ;)) is the first of five exhibitions from emergent visual artists as part of the Circus Artspace’s Graduate Associates programme. Eight arts graduates from Scottish art schools with connections to the Highlands will be showing work at Wasps’ Inverness Creative Academy from Tuesday 22nd to Saturday 26th February.
The exhibition will include sculpture, painting, film installation and performance around the theme of identity from artists Becki Kirkwood, Erin Semple, Evija Laivina, Hester Grant, Holly Osborne, Jacqueline Briggs, Robert McCormack and Sadie Stoddart. The onset of the global pandemic has accelerated concerns around the individual with a new intensity around themes of character, behaviour, identity, the body, and attention.
The title of the exhibition :’-) ? ¯\_(?)_/¯ 😉 😐 :’D -_- ;)) is an emotional semiotic play on identity, recognising the digital impact of the past year, particularly on young people.
Circus’ Graduate Associates is a development programme for emergent visual artists in the Highlands and Islands, Moray and Perthshire. This programme is delivered in partnership with the University of the Highlands and Islands and supported by XpoNorth, Creative Scotland and the Hope Scott Trust.
Over the course of ten months Circus Artspace have supported the first cohort to develop the confidence and critical skills needed to thrive within the visual arts. Aiming to build a supportive community of practice in the face of Covid-19 and increased isolation as well as open up new opportunities for recent graduates across the region. Through regular online training, a peer review summer school as well as different opportunities to show their work, the programme was structured to encourage dialogue with peers and help navigate career pathways during these uncertain times. The :’-) ? ¯\_(?)_/¯ 😉 😐 :’D -_- ;)) exhibition is supported by a free publication which can be collected in person and will conclude with a free closing event on Saturday 26th February from 6-9pm.
??Becki Kirkwood is a Glasgow-born artist, currently living and working in the Highlands of Scotland. She works with photography, collage, and drawing techniques, often combining them to create mixed media artworks, and explores themes such as mental health and identity through the form of self-portraiture.
Kirkwood developed her current practice while studying at the University of the Highlands and Islands, where she received a BA with First Class Honours in Contemporary Art and Contextualised Practice.
Since beginning her studies, her artwork has exhibited around Scotland, including in Inverness and Dundee. Her project ‘Me, Myself and I’ was selected to be part of the ‘New Highland Contemporary 6’ annual exhibition in Nairn and was awarded The Arts Society Highland Award Prize for Contemporary Art 2019.
A lens based artist living in the Highlands of Scotland, she looks to her personal life and experiences to inform her work, utilising the lens to better understand herself and those around her. Erin’s work, although often introspective in nature, explores ideas such as the gaze and notions of home by investigating the self in landscapes and domestic spaces. She has exhibited in Glasgow, Edinburgh, London and Hong Kong, undertaken a residency at Cove Park and co-founded Fresh Focus – a peer led critique group for graduate photographers seeking creative and constructive criticism and support.
Evija Laivina was born in Latvia in 1978. After relocating to Scotland, Laivina studied Contemporary Art and Contextualized Practice at the University of the Highlands and Islands, where she earned a BA Hons first class degree in 2019. Her art is mostly focused on the issues of beauty standards and body image. Her photographic series Beauty Warriors has received international attention after receiving the 2018 LensCulture Portrait Award and was nominated for the 2019 Henri Nannen Journalism Prize in Germany. Currently, she is a Highland Print Studio artist-in-residence as part of the Highland Culture Collective project (National pilot Culture Collective programme). As part of the residency, she is delivering photography workshops for communities and individuals who have been adversely impacted by Covid 19. Since January 2021 she has been exploring an alter ego persona Barbara, looking into current actualities in daily life and the impact on mental health and body issues in light of her personal experiences.
Hester Grant is a Scottish artist who works across a variety of media such as textiles, film, sound and art writing. Her work addresses topics such as the internet, pornography, software programming and accelerationism. Hester has also organised a number of socially engaged projects such as the Circus Zine Fest in 2021, running an art theory book group and organising art writing workshops for young people in the Highlands. Hester is currently undertaking a masters in Fine Art at Glasgow School of Art.
Holly Osborne reflects on stereotypes, ideals, and mundanity, using drawing and painting as a vehicle. She is a collector of images, gathering material from a range of different sources – stock photos, religious imagery, vintage knitting patterns, adverts, social media, etc. Osborne’s artistic practice draws from contemporary sources, finding images mostly from online. After graduating from Painting and Printmaking at Glasgow School of Art in 2018, Osborne returned to her hometown of Dingwall where she worked as a practicing artist and was a committee member at Circus Artspace until June 2021. She has since returned to Glasgow and continues to develop her practice whilst running her small business of quirky wrapping paper, greetings cards and tea towels. She has recently become a committee member with SaltSpace, a creative co-operative based in Glasgow, which supports graduates and early year creatives as a stepping stone into the artistic career.
??Growing up in the Scottish Highlands with a Papua New Guinean Mother and Scottish Father, Jacqueline Briggs looks to environment, culture identity and people as sources of inspiration. Enjoying using art as a means to explore and learn about the world and different elements of her contrasting heritage she uses bold colour and line to explore crossover of disciplines within fine art and design. Since graduating in 2016 from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design with a BDesHons in Illustration, she has been working from her studio in the Highlands in Wasps Creative Academy Inverness. She recently took part in creating a piece for The Black Lives Matter Mural Trail exhibited at Eden Court Theatre (2020) and a billboard with HiMRA (Highland Migrant and Refugee Advocacy) for the ‘Notice’ Project by Circus Artspace displayed on a billboard outside Wasps Creative Academy (2021).
Robert McCormack is an artist, curator, and educator living and working in Glasgow. Recent curatorial projects include Graduate Drive Thru, an exhibition staged on the top story of a car park, and Open Cut, a graduate exhibition at Transmission gallery. Robert holds a fine art degree from the Glasgow School of Art and an Alt Masters from the New Art school where he worked under Artist Karla Black. Roberts’s studio work draws upon queer theory and pedagogy with a particular focus on the intersection between children and pets. Alongside his projects, Robert works at a Special Education school which supports and informs his practice.
Sadie Stoddart is a contemporary artist based in Inverness. Since graduating from Moray School of Art (UHI) in 2019 with a degree in Fine Art, Sadie has had a variety of roles in the community in Inverness. In 2019 Sadie became Circus Artspace’s first graduate intern helping the team to plan and deliver contemporary art exhibitions and events. Sadie has facilitated a number of workshops through roles with WASPs, Trinity College London, Highland Council and Inverness Museum and Art Gallery. Sadie is passionate about championing the arts in the North of Scotland and finding ways of encouraging young people to create and engage with Contemporary art and last year set up The School of StoddART where she currently facilitates weekly art classes where she hopes to do exactly that.