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SVA Final Year Exhibition 2014

Natali Daley's Creed

As I made my way through the Final Year exhibition of the School of the Visual Arts at the Edna Manley College, I was feeling a growing sense of disappointment. Last year’s had been exciting and seemed rife with vibrant emerging artists expressing new ideas. Yet the 2014 exhibition was in many ways uninspiring, at least that’s what I thought until I encountered Necon Bailey’s jewelry exhibition.

Bailey steps far outside of the box in defining a jewelry aesthetic. Rather than traditional  baubles and gems, Bailey takes a cutlass as his canvas and reshapes the weapon into beautiful musical instruments.

Necon Bailey re-interprets the cutlass with the Akontin SeriesBailey, who is the school’s technician in the jewelry department, explained that he was moved to reshape the cutlass as a way of inspiring to see things differently given the violence that has been associated with the instrument.

“I wanted to give a different outlook of the cutlass," Bailey explained. “It is a symbol of strength."

One of the most striking pieces is his fusion of the blade of the cutlass with the akontin. The instrument becomes even more intriguing when Bailey explains that although the handle is made of mahogany, the wood at the base is made from saw dust that was reworked until it could absorb sound.

“I'm using this [the cutlass] as my canvas, so whenever you look at it I wanted you to be aware it's a cutlass,” Bailey said.

The SVA Final Year exhibition features the works by over 30 students graduating from 

Several of the pieces are rather mundane and completely unable to live up to the artistic statements put forward. In some cases, the young artists extol some interesting ideas that simply do not come forward in the work. 

Even so, their are some noteworthy voices coming forward from the exhibition. Traci Wong's 'Facets'

Traci Wong’s steel and nylon sculptures stood out dramatically, not merely because of their size. Wong captures the contrast between the seeming delicate nature of the nylon when contrasted with the steel framing. 

“Steel is a very resilient industrial material. The nylon is very ephemeral. I'm looking at that contrast,” Wong explained. 

“It's how we place our selves society. We pretend to be what we're not to fit in," she said.

For several of the artists, their exhibition was an attempt to tell their personal stories. Indeed, Phillipa Smith literally puts herself in her work as she combines, textile and fiber art with portraiture, weaving plastic bags bags. 

Phillippa Smith's 'Daddy's Girl“I'm kina trying to put in what I went through," Smith explains, "trying to make them interesting, trying to make them different, trying to make them new."

Khadeem Davis’ cardboard installation Pyramids: Obeah Child provides an intriguing and disconcerting experience that does feel as though you have journeyed into his mind, or some otherworldly landscape. 

Other artists used their media to explore social issues. Lowell Royer’s massive illustrations, dubbed ‘Retention’, were among those. 

“It's a story about man's impact on animals. I really wanted people to feel humbled when they leave the space," Royer says. “I named it retention because I want us to retain nature or we'll be fossilized in concrete."Khadeem Davis' 'Pyramids: Obeah Child'

Natali Daley’s Creed gives an interesting take on Christianity making a potent statement. In her artist statement, Daley notes that she is attempting to “dismiss the divisive nature of Christianity’ however, what she has presented is far more intriguing as she plays with religious symbolism. 

The works comprising the exhibition were taken from the final year examinations form SVA’sthe Bachelor of Fine Art, Bachelor of Art Education as well as the Diploma programme.