Prize-winning craft work from Glasgow colleges Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, until January 7
Glasgow art students show that diploma courses can be every bit as creative as a degree, writes Deedee Cuddihy
If you've always thought - or even suspected - that a college arts course could never be as good as a university one, and that a diploma is not as worthwhile as a degree, pay a visit to the Showcase 2000 exhibition at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and have your mind changed.
Showcase 2000 is an inspirational exhibition of award-winning craft work by further education students in Glasgow colleges. It has been curated by Dorothy Stewart, who attended a CraftEx competition show organised by the Trades House of Glasgow two years ago and was amazed by what she saw.
Trades House runs the annual event to "strengthen the links between the ancient craft incorporations of Glasgow and those training in craft-related fields". Ms Stewart says: "The standard of work by the students was so high that I felt it really had to be viewed by a wider public. Apart from the CraftEx show, you would normally only get to see it if you attended the annual exhibitions at the individual colleges."
More than 100 pieces of work, including jewellery, fashion, furniture, industrial designs, cake decoration, floral art and photography, feature in Showcase 2000. Seven colleges are represented and the students are aged from early 20s to 40s.
Jennifer Ainsworth liked art at school but left when she was 16. Her father wanted her to become a nurse but when she saw a poster at a Job Centre for a jewellery course at North Glasgow College, she decided to enrol. Now she has won a Trades House award for a tiara made of sterling silver wire and tiny gem stones which, with more of her beautifully finished work, is on show at Kelvingrove.
Jonathan Crawford was two years into a mechanical engineering degree at university when he left and signed up for an HND in furniture costruction and design at the College of Building and Printing. It is not hard to see why his superbly crafted wooden sculpture cum seat attracted top marks. He has achieved his stated aim of combining art with function.
Some of the best work in the show comes from students following the HND graphics course at Cardonald College. The prize-winners include a former nurse who started an art and design Higher to relieve the stress of her job.
As far as Ms Stewart is concerned, however, everything in the exhibition is worthy of equal attention. She urges visitors to admire the stained glass windows such as those by Brian Kerr, an HND student at the College of Building and Printing, the flawless architectural models of famous Glasgow doorways, sugarcraft pieces and the bookbindings, from graduates whose expertise is now sought after around the world. And don't forget the fashion, such as the range by Erica Rinaldi, an HND student at Cardonald College, the photography, the puppetry, floral arrangements, fine art, ceramics, glassware and even bread work.
In video interviews with a number of students whose work features in the show, visitors can hear why and how they came to embark on their particular college course, their experience of it and what they plan to do in the future.
Ms Stewart says: "Where schools are concerned, we initially thought only the secondaries would be interested in the show, but education advisers have told us that even in Primary 6 pupils are starting to think seriously about subject choices and what they're going to do in the future."
Glasgow Museums' education department has organised a series of complementary craft workshops for pupils from P6 to S6 which are running daily until December 8.
Ms Stewart adds: "We hope this exhibition will encourage people to find out more about the many excellent opportunities for lifelong learning which are available in Glasgow today."
Information from Glasgow Museums' education office, tel 0141 287 2747