If you happened to be frequenting Brick Lane on Thursday night, you may have been enticed to join a crowd of Shoreditchite looking purveyors and take a gander around a very special exhibition held at The Old Truman Brewery. With free gin and tonics and art as far as the eye can see for your evening’s backdrop, this could only have been the work of the University of Brighton’s Graphic Design and Illustration students.
Titled “Jackpot” the exhibition was a melting pot of every grads work that amalgamated styles of plenty into one space. But this wasn’t done with seamless precision, instead the showcase embraced its differences and based the entire premise on a showing off the contrast each piece shared with each other. Epitomising the unpredictable and uncanny nature of our society, Jackpot is an eruptive microcosm of fun, fear, and flesh.
For such an absurdist spectacle the artists joined together to decorate the venue themselves. Adorning Truman Brewery with irregular coloured circles, puzzling poetry and crude descriptions (take the toilet’s “Piss Pot” label as a fine example of this). Each artists’ wall became a feature of its own only just joined together by the coloured embellishments. Underground was fortunate enough to bear witness to Jackpot’s private viewing – an overwhelming bustle of sound and sight as you wondered through a maze of wooden screens coated in its owner’s work.
As you entered, the poem greets you with paradoxical description of what was to come once full engulfed in the exhibition’s walls. And while Jackpot wasn’t exactly “a nuclear test spot” nor “a brothel and a child’s cot”, the poem’s intention was to allude to the contradictory nature of collection, and perhaps beyond, which it did quite perfectly. You were then met with the difficult task of deciding which side of the line of trollies you should go to first (and yes there was literally a huge row of shopping trollies segregating the exhibition).
Whether you picked left or right, you were bound to be witness to great things, that’ll eventually bring you around the entire selection of work. In the first subsection of many, illustrators such as Ella Wilson-Smith and Connie Wright, transported you to another realm through their exploration of different times and locations. They were also joined by graphic designers Mulenga Musonda, using the spell of photography to grab your attention, and Lily Weinbrand with her look at the politics of travel and the relationship between physical and figurative journeys.
As you walked passed the first bar, taking a free drink for yourself, you then entered the back space filled with guess what… more art! In this space the inspiring graphic work of artists such as Holly Titchener with her emphatic look at a women’s place in religion and the fallacious denigration of goddesses in doctrine, and Marina Vallejo Espinoza with her grotesquely-alluring, bubble-gum-pink look at party culture and holographic images of womanhood through the social lens of the “White Girl Wasted”. In this section, visitors were also invited to get interactive with a sand pit of Melissande Maurice’s design and Lucy Fuller’s front room installation where you can become part of the scene by watching a “fascist fembot” take over on the old school tv set. And if you were on the market for some feminine illustrations Ruby Carter and Loren Willden-Pitter had you covered with images of female subjects in their comfort zones: either in their bedrooms with their dogs or embracing nakedness on a bed of foliage. Also, in the back-section viewers were implored to look but not touch pieces such as a Helen Ferry’s arcade game and watch Brendton Theuissen’s urine steam up a crystal decanter.
With an atmosphere alive with intrigue and relief (for the artists that is), the exhibition’s opening made for a night of total indulgence in a mishmash of ideas, intentions and display. Viewers were even able to get a closer look at the artists’ array of work via the exhibition’s library, which was full to the brim a selection of works from each exhibitor. And for a cherry on top, post-cards and business cards were available for you to take home or even eat.
Jackpot is running for a limited time only and will be on display until Monday 17th of June. This is your invite to treat your eyes to a feast of only the finest work to fall from the University of Brighton tree, and like Eve you are encouraged to par-take in the fruit of theses artists’ minds.