Glasgow School of Art Degree Show 2016

This week my super clever little pudding of a friend, Karman, graduates from her masters of architecture at the incredible Glasgow School of Art. Because she’s a babe, she invited me along to the degree show 2016 opening night and street party. Here’s what went down…

I’ve known Karman since we were 7 and she came to my school not speaking a word of English. I was deemed the most patient in the class (lol) and instructed to sit next to her – 17 years on and she’s still one of my closest friends. My favourite story is that her first English word was accidentally ‘shit’ after I was told to show her around the school by dropping the class register up to another building with her in tow, where I then promptly dropped the register it into a puddle and burst out with a profanity. Of course that was the first word she picked up. Of course my teacher wasn’t best pleased…

But back to the now. Karman has always been a wee genius – you have to be to do architecture, let alone at such a prestigious establishment. She truly did not think she’d get through this year but she has, with flying colours and an amazing 2:1 grade, and I couldn’t be prouder of her. She invited me to come and view her exhibition and all the other degree exhibitions at the opening night on Friday 17 June, where the art school were hosting an outdoor street party in celebration of everyone finishing another year of incredibly hard work.

Now, I’ve never really been an arty person. Does that make me sound like a dickhead? Going round museums and exhibitions kind of bores me; I need to have a connection with what I’m seeing. So to say I was apprehensive at best would be fair. Luckily for me, stepping into the buildings where all of the blood, sweat, tears laughter and imagination of so many students was brilliantly displayed, I realised I didn’t have anything to worry about, because this art connected with me on every level. Looking around at the students celebrating with their friends and family, I could see why; these students were like me, young and excited about life, exploring all the avenues it had brought them down for the past year through models or canvas or paint or textiles or structures. And I connected with each and every bit.

Particular highlights were the totally abstract communication design, which allowed my imagination to run wild, and the product design – I didn’t expect to be so into practical designs but, I loved it. Particular highlights included the clever bike helmet, Alzheimer’s website and the super clever display of learning both Chinese  and English as a young child, displayed over a series of four school-style notebooks; looking at this particular piece with Karman made me need to gulp back tears a few times as it seemed very fitting of our friendship and lovely journey together. (Sorry, I should have forewarned that this post may need a bucket to throw up in whilst reading.)

But of course, the best bit of all was the architecture. Starting on the ground floor where the stage 1 exhibition was, I checked out the work on each floor, admiring the work and reminiscing about each exhibition of Karman’s over the years; seeing her develop her style and how her work has grown, finally reaching the floor where this year’s exhibition was. It was like taking a magnifying glass and staring into her brain, this amazing display of all of her energy from the past year. She’d created an athenaeum, a medical room in the style of a performance theatre where students can learn by watching experts how to perform examinations on the deceased. The layout of the building – which included glass floors on several levels and beautiful drawings, with tiny skeletons each representing people – was so clever. My brain, which cannot even draw a stick man corrently, simply doesn’t compute how she can begin to put together each part of the picture, let alone the actual structural workings of a building.

She even published a book alongside some of her classmates, which is on the livability of Glasgow and Boston and contains edited versions of each of their dissertations, all linked together to work as a flowing, factual read. I expected it to be full of jargon but I loved that I could not only understand every part of it, but was actually really interested in it – it connected with me as I could point out what I agreed and disagreed with as being important for living somewhere, and it was packed with interesting facts and figures.

Once we’d explored the exhibitions, we made our way out into the street party. It was one of those amazing moments where I feel like Glasgow is the most exciting city in the world – the beats, BBQ and booze were all flowing and the mood was so happy, as everybody partied to mark another term being done. The outdoor artwork, the deckchairs to chill in, the delicious food and the excellent DJs all just added to an atmopshere that was making everybody around us say ‘I wish this was on all the time’, and we definitely did as well.

I’m so chuffed I got to go and explore it all with my fave girl, but you can too – the exhibitions at the School of Art, the Tontine Building and the Glue Factory all run until the 25th of June, with full details here.


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