I was invited back to University last week, to see The Arts Summer Show, comprising the various Photography and Arts graduation shows. The standard of work was high but I was left fairly unmoved by the exhibition as a whole. While there I took the time to look around the foundation year art students exhibition, they are free to use photography, painting, sculpture etc. or any combination of techniques in their work, during this year grades don’t count towards degree grades.
The level of creativity in this first year was amazing, the use and combination of materials and technique inspired and it really underlined my suspicions that the academic process and the desire to achieve high grades stifles creativity and risk taking. The final year work may have greater academic value but it is produced at a cost of little or no emotional response from the viewer. In the photographic industry technical competence is taken as read and what separates photographers is their creativity. Perhaps the balance between grades and creativity needs to be reassessed.