Picture this (pun intended): it’s a cold Monday evening. There is a selection of disparate artworks in both A&V and Thornlea Rannoch, our studio space opposite The Impy. We have approximately one hour to get them all to our venue in town before the exhibition kicks off. We’re going to use our social secretary’s car to do it. Easy, right? Sure. Until the car battery dies and it starts raining. However, it turns out there’s nothing like the power of teamwork, and we do it. Just about. We pull the thing off.
If you’ve ever interacted with me, it’ll be no secret that I’m part of the university’s Art Society committee (although, to be fair, I’m in charge of publicity so my whole job is to never shut up about Art Soc). However, my role in the organisation and preparation of this exhibition was fairly minimal, so although I may be biased towards the achievements of my marvellous friends, I am also in a position to give a fairly impartial account of the event (probably).
This exhibition was the second and final one of the academic year and took place at caffeinated student hotspot, Boston Tea Party. All the art exhibited was made by members of the university’s Art Society, with a mixture of paintings, sketches, and photography on display. Usually closed at this hour, the top floor of the cafe was filled with people looking at the art, milling around, and sitting around talking, eating, and drinking; a table at one end of the room was adorned with an array of sandwiches and cakes. A group of musicians from Exeter University Jazz Orchestra provided the entertainment for the evening, filling the room with jazz music – a sophisticated enough soundscape to enable me to pretend that I was a real adult doing real, adult-y things.
Events like this are a great way to support student artists and promote their work in the local community, and it’s wonderful to see what your peers are capable of, especially at a university like Exeter – stereotypically we’re not exactly renowned for our artistic prowess, after all. Nonetheless, it’s important to celebrate student achievements beyond the seminar room and the rugby pitch, because they do exist. Nurturing creativity is important; it’s an antidote to the pressures of academia, it’s good for your mental health and, ultimately, sometimes it’s just nice to do something for yourself. Painting a landscape or taking a photo isn’t necessarily going to get you a first or be a valuable addition to your CV, but isn’t that such a relief sometimes? To do something purely because you want to and because you enjoy it?
It’s been a fantastic year for Art Soc; membership has considerably grown in number, as have the responses to events, socials, and classes. Although the current committee’s time at the helm may be coming to an end, it’s exciting to see where the next year will take the society, how it continues to grow, and the number of flat car batteries they have to deal with.