Platform Award 2020 Virtual Exhibition

This year we are presenting the ninth edition of The Graduate Platform award online.

The award, established in 2012, is an initiative created to nurture emerging talent and to support recent fine art graduates in their professional development. Each year, an artist is chosen for the award from one of fifteen participating regional universities. They receive a bursary of £2,000, as well as a bespoke 12-month mentorship programme.

This year, we have chosen a shortlist of eight artists from the BA Fine Art course at The University of the Creative Arts (UCA) in Canterbury. Following the exhibition, one artist will be nominated for the award – with the winner announced in December 2020. Turner Prize 2019 winner Tai Shani is on selection panel for the 2020 Platform Graduate Award. While in previous years the shortlisted artists have showcased their work on-site in the gallery, this year, due to restrictions surrounding COVID-19, the exhibition is taking place online and you can explore the work of the nominated artists below.

The initiative is led by CVAN South East (Contemporary Visual Arts Network South East), a partnership between five galleries: Aspex in Portsmouth, Milton Keynes Gallery, Modern Art Oxford, Phoenix Art Space in Brighton, and Turner Contemporary. It seeks to promote close working relationships between galleries in the South East and their local Higher Education institutions, as well as enhancing and fostering new talent within the region.

Bie Wright

Bie Wright’s work predominantly takes the form of large-scale drawings, pottery, journal work, and projection. Her drawings are the culmination of a process of meditation and reflection, where the line is often manipulated in various ways and a collection of tight circular knots are amassed. Wright’s use of the continuous line and its repetition conveys a love of language: “My work requires a sense of poetic sensibility; looking and sensing rather than analysing logically,” she notes. The work invites parallels between the written word and the object, exploring art as a mode of communication and giving voice. It also explores the opposite: what it means to be void of words, to have no voice.

Admire Ncube

Admire Ncube’s work is located at the intersection of Pop culture and the histories of the African Diaspora. Using collage, sculpture, and masks, Ncube plays on “the ambiguity of turning trash into something” as he terms it, transmuting found objects - which have largely been thrown away or disregarded - into a new form. Ncube’s work delves into history, seeking to unearth the missing narratives of the African diaspora and their roles in science, technology, and science fiction. Yet the work also envisages possible futures, transforming these images into the surreal and the futuristic.

Despina Kaklamanou

Despina Kaklamanou uses installation, video and photography to explore themes of self-discovery, asking questions about the artist’s – and the viewer’s - identity. Mirrors play a central role, both as a mechanism for self-confrontation, and as a means of offering new and shifting perspectives. “Projections in mirrors allow me to play with space and create optical illusions that challenge the way the audience can experience the work,” she states. Kaklamanou’s work also investigates the connections between the mirror and the camera lens – opening up a dialogue between the two.

Racheal Ayodele

Racheal Ayodele’s work takes the form of a series of self-portraits which are inspired by issues surrounding society, race, and intimacy. ‘Me, Myself and I’, is a 3-part series of acrylic self-portraits created by Ayodele as a means of confronting insecurity. These paintings investigate and challenge the ways in which black women are often ignored or mispresented in the media and in the arts. As Ayodele states, “in these paintings, I show that I and others like me are present and that we matter; what we go through matters.” The artist seeks to question these absences and misrepresentations by placing herself at the forefront of her work, creating a space where the artist can ensure visibility for those who have been marginalised by society and to explore her own identity.

Poppy Gentleman

Poppy Gentleman’s work focuses on portraiture as an exploration of the self. Gentleman uses a range of materials from gouache to oil, as well as different colours and tones to represent changing emotion. Most recently, due to the restrictions of the COVID-19 lockdown, Gentleman’s work has moved into the digital sphere. ‘Me and my fake friends’ uses the life simulation video game ‘The Sims 4’ as a tool to render a series of 3-D figures, which are then painted with acrylic into a diorama-like scene. This work examines the interplay between reality and simulation, “lockdown itself is a kind of simulation...I realised I was using the game as a way of dealing with the lockdown and it became clear that I should incorporate this into the work,” Gentleman notes. The digital is explored as a realm of comparative freedom, particularly when reality – in the present moment - has the propensity to seem more constrictive.

Rosamond Boughton

Rosamond Boughton’s work encompasses a broad range of disciplines and natural materials, often incorporating elements of audience participation. Drawing on ancient narratives originating from the Medieval pilgrimage route to Canterbury, Boughton’s work incorporates many of the rituals, medicines, and materials used by pilgrims during these journeys. In the installation piece ‘Echoes of the Pilgrims’, the artist explores the natural materials found along The Pilgrims Way. This work comprises of several pieces, such as footprints made from Kentish beeswax and homemade clay pots containing medicinal plants collected along the route. These pieces are intended as a reflection on the ways in which our ancestors used the local natural landscape as a resource, “using the knowledge and techniques of the past, helps me to consider present and future perspectives of our relationship with nature,” Boughton observes. This forgotten knowledge has particular relevance to contemporary audiences, as the fragility of our environment becomes ever more a concern.

Samuel Vilanova

Samuel Vilanova uses installation, sculpture, and painting to explore the relationship between interior and exterior worlds. Taking inspiration from objects of the everyday, Vilanova’s work uses these objects to probe the relationship between reality and the space of the imaginary. The artist conceives of his work as a portal which, he states, “transports the audience from the gallery space, to this kind of parallel reality that is foggy and dreamy,” thus inviting audience members to immerse themselves in the world that Vilanova’s art generates.

Teddie Newton

Teddie Newton’s most recent work, ‘French software’, uses digital 3-D models, pen and paper drawings, audio files and animation to construct the content for an imagined animated computer programme. Newton’s programme is modelled on French educational GCSE software from the artist’s childhood, and it seeks to emulate the software’s simplistic and crude aesthetic, what he terms, “the poverty of their images and sound effects and their cumbersome, blobby interfaces.” Newton’s work recalls his adolescent associations of ‘Frenchness’ with the exotic, playfully exploring the constructs by which we categorise that which is foreign to us.