2015 MFA Degree Show

The four graduating students in the Art, Space & Nature MFA programme are a combination of early career artists and landscape architects coming from China (Zhao Xie and Yanli Shen), Greece (Nadia Dermatopoulou) and America (Allison Palenske). Working both inside and outside of traditional gallery and museum spaces, students in the ASN programme engage collaboratively with the projects in broader social and ecological contexts, with a focus on fieldwork and encounters in the public realm.


Economic Growth | Nadia Dermatopoulou, Allison Palenske and Zhao Xie

As a biodiverse resource, forests have historically been linked to health and wellness, with many cultural traditions and mythologies derived from arboreal landscapes. The commodification of forests as a national product has had detrimental effects on the health of Scotland’s tree and plant species. With aggressive monoculture and plantations taking over the natural landscapes across the nation, much of the culture held within these forests has been lost.

Economic Growth is a collaborative work that addresses the effects of capitalism and industrialism on the forests of Scotland. A birch forest is recreated in the gallery space, with reiterations of the iconic Financial Times dominating the forest’s undergrowth. The double meaning of growth is used here to question the foundations of progress and economic wellness.


Labyrinth, the Sacred Path | Nadia Dermatopoulou

The Labyrinth symbolizes the spiritual journey, A journey where the destination is a metaphorical place for transformation. It can also be described as a journey from death to rebirth and re-entry into the womb of the Earth. A Labyrinth is not a maze or a puzzle to be solved but a path of meaning to be experienced, a walk that starts from total darkness and disorientation and ends in wholeness and illumination.

Lost time | Zhao Xie

The time lapses lasted from seconds to minutes and to hours, this is a series of photographs, taken in pairs, of the same scenes. They talk about change in subjects, occurrence, experience, and particularly of time. The key to the less observable is to pay attention to the rolling clouds in the sky.

Duality | Zhao Xie

Discussing the relationship between matter and consciousness. The installation is composed of a range of rectangular shapes as the material substance to represent the physical, tangible world; and a motional image of mundane scenes representing perceived information in our minds. On an invisible level, these two things interwoven together as the shapes are made out of iridescent film, which adds dreamy effect to the reality, whereas the content to the video are prototypes from ordinary life.

Thoughts can go anywhere | Zhao Xie

In proving himself as a clairvoyant, French poet A. Rimbaud wrote the poem “Vowels”, endowed with colours, images and emotions. By converting the words into a series of notes, text becomes melody, which brings synaesthesia to its maximum capacity.

Germinate//Cultivate | Allison Palenske

By germinating seeds, we germinate ideas about alternatives to destructive industrial farming methods. A collection of seeds, seedlings and maps encapsulate cultures of food through history. This installation reflects the preliminary phases of the City Croft community garden project at the Edinburgh College of Art, a collaborative project that connects food origins with creative practice. Viewers are invited to engage with the project by participating in a collective act of seed germination.

Pupilla | Yanli Shen

At first glance we see four identical works, same size, shape and colour. Look again, more closely, the differences become obvious; within the simple forms is great detail.

Looking and seeing are very different, in life we see very little, we appear blind to the world and in particular nature. If we fail to see, we will fail to understand. If we understand we can live a collective harmonious existence.

Do I know you? | Yanli Shen

We all but trust in the people that surround us on a daily basis but do we know them? In approaching someone to kiss, I am making decisions about people I don’t know. I am finding markers that suggest that this individual is safe but what are they? Is it facial characteristics, body movement or simply intuitive? The relationships although very brief, undergo a highly complex interaction that is emotionally charged and challenging.

The Seonaidh  | Yanli Shen

Every human body is made up of a set number of elements, I have collected these elements, from the natural landscape of Lewis (e.g. Carbon from peat) – minus the elements contained in seawater and formed into a sphere. When I walk into the sea, carrying the sphere, mixture of elements found in a human will be complete.

A different kind of blue | Yanli Shen

The work will strongly resemble a traditional landscape painting of sea and sky and may appeal to the audience in this way. It is however, about awareness, confronting the viewers with their own actions and responsibilities regarding carbon production.

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