ARTicle by Benjamin Campbell, ARTiculation Ambassador
On 13 January 2020 the Articulation prize visited The Royal Academy of Arts for an ARTiculation London Regional Heat.
The speeches kicked off at 2pm within the Academies auditorium, we were first introduced to Josepha Sanna from the ARTiculation team. She gave us a short talk on the objectives and aims of ARticulation stating how their ethos was to urge students into looking, thinking and speaking about art.
There were ten students who delivered presentations on different works of art, ranging from architecture to painting and everything in-between. But what they all shared was a deep intimate response and one could see how each student clearly looked, thought and reflected about their chosen work.
The first speaker was Esme Lynch who presented the Rothko Rooms that famously included his black on maroon painting. It was an emotive response to the work, and I was taken aback by the deliverance and the in-depth summary of how the painting was completed. It was also refreshing to hear how she recommended viewing the work stating, ‘you need the pure state of mind to view them, so they don’t diminish’.
The next speaker to present was Unity Saunders. What was unique about Unity’s presentation was her direct connection to the chosen work Willesden Junction by Leon Kossoff. She knew from direct experience the scene and had a particularly personal response to the painting. She also portrayed what she knew of the scene, to break down the composition of the painting to say how the painterly style echoed the area. With elegant language she articulated her feelings towards the work impressively and explained why the painting is still as relevant today; ‘Kossoff’s painting like the modern world is always moving, when you stop, slow down, you see the beauty in the world’.
The third speaker of the first half was Elmo. He presented a work by the artist Canaletto, specifically the Bacino di San Marco from San Giorgio Maggiore. Elmo was extremely knowledgeable in the context behind the work and gave a detailed analysis of the different components of the painting such as the ship with the Dutch flag on show. What came through in Elmo’s deliverance was his clear interest in the history within the painting – ‘there was a myriad of things that could be looked into’. Throughout the presentation he would continuously refer back to the painting guiding us through his talk.
Next up was Lukas Taberna presenting the work of Alexander McQueen, specifically Highland Rape. A unique choice made for a talk; you really could sense both his enthusiasm for the work but also for fashion. He gave a brilliant contextual breakdown following a clear visual analysis. It was unique in the sense that he was talking about a catwalk with different garments whilst he also broke down the curation of the catwalk. He also beautifully articulated why fashion was McQueen’s medium of choice saying, ‘fashion for him was creating a story, all materials work in harmony to deliver thought provoking topics.’
Paul Nash’s Totes Meer by Elle was the next presentation. With such a rich historical context behind the work, Elle spoke in great depth. She talked about how abstraction leads to the creation of the work placing you in a state of limbo not knowing if the scene depicts waves, plane wreckages or a graveyard. She directed the work towards the audience asking what we see. Her deliverance was engaging, professional and intriguing. She also elegantly reflects how art is so intimate saying, ‘I see Art being personal to everyone through this painting, one sees a wave while the other a graveyard’.
After Elle’s talk there was a photograph taken off all the contestants. It was lovely to see how ARTiculation not only promotes the younger generations enthusiasm for art but also brings individuals together within these events.
Chloe Yaffes was the first student to kick off the second half of the presentations. She presented her work on the Death of Socrates by Jacques-Louis David. What was unique about Chloe’s presentation was she talked about the art movements that were prior to this artwork, saying how this work differed from those movements and how this work was contextually unique. She clearly put a great deal of time into learning the philosophy and background behind the ideas of Socrates and had a deep-rooted knowledge in his work as well as the history behind the individual. The language was extremely poetic and well-chosen.
Magdalena was the next speaker to the podium with Francis Bacon as her selection. Magda’s PowerPoint was well crafted, clear and linked perfectly to what she was saying. She opened with talking about the individual (Bacon) opening with a lovely start saying, ‘Bacon is an enigma’. She then went into giving us supporting information such as shedding light onto his lover George Dyer. This was vital for the audience to get a better grasp of the paintings. The atmospheric appearance of the work was only better emphasised by the deliverance of the talk and I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about the artist behind the infamous work. Moreover, Magda presented her own personal shift in opinion regarding the work and this gave a clear personality to her speech.
Margherita Bossi followed Magda, similarly to Lukas, her subject matter was unique as she chose to talk about the architecture of Gaudi with a focus on Casa Mila. It was lovely to hear such a range of works talked about on the day and Bossi particularly helped with this, stating why she thought Gaudi’s work should rightly belong within the category of Art. Her enthusiasm for architecture led into her speech from start to finish and it was engaging to hear such clear passion. She also gave us great insight to the inspirations of Gaudi at one point saying, ‘his buildings were in harmony with nature.’ She also spoke on how Casa Milla compliments the surrounding area and other international monuments.
Dylan Scott was the second to last speaker of the afternoon, introducing graffiti. Scott spoke with passion and clarity and gave a beautiful summary of why he was so fond of Keith Haring’s work saying, ‘he broke the boundaries of the subway and the gallery space.’ He also gave a pitch like introduction into why graffiti must be considered Art with great eloquence. What was clear about his speech was his passion for the art of Haring and graffiti as a whole and it was nice to hear someone speak about work that they clearly thoroughly enjoyed, art traditions notwithstanding.
Finally, was Vasilla¬¬¬’s talk on the performative art of Marina Abramovich with an emphasis on her Venice Biennale piece Balkans Baroque. As the artist is a personal favourite of mine, I thoroughly engaged from start to finish. The context she gave behind the work paved the way for the audience to fully understand the work. Also, in the question from the adjudicator, Vasilla mentioned she saw The Artist is Present in New York. This resonated personally with me as it echoes the reason I am an artist now; that is, performance may seem just a small interaction between art and person but the impact, excellent delineated by Vasilla, can have great ramifications. She also mentioned a lovely statement into why Abramovich goes to the lengths she does in her art, saying that ‘for Abramovic Art is something she clearly values over life itself.’ Her deliverance was professional, emotive and engaging.
To summarise, I was blown away by the ten speakers. All were thoroughly engaging and professional. If someone had said these were university lecturers, I wouldn’t have doubted it for a second and they all should be thoroughly proud of their achievements and efforts.
Following the conclusion of the presentation Timothy Revell gave a short talk on the efforts of ARTiculation and their goals. It was nice to hear more about their efforts into getting the younger generation engaged with art.
Finally, crunch time! Following Timothy’s speech was an introduction from the Head Royal Academy Schools, Eliza Bonham Carter. She had the near impossible task of choosing two winners out of the ten. The two winners out of the ten were Lukas Taberna and Chloe Yaffes, who will now go on to the London Final at the National Gallery on 28 February. Both extremely worthy candidates and I am glad I didn’t have to make that hard decision!
Following the results was a reception with drinks and food where speakers and audience members alike were able to network and talk to the other contestants which only further highlighted the communal efforts of the entire event.
I highly recommend taking part in the ARTiculation Prize, as it is not just about the Prize but also has great perks (Alumni Network!) that really can have a lasting impact to career opportunities. More importantly presenting is a skill that at one point in your life you will have to do in either education or work. The ARTiculation Prize not only gives a real professional platform and first-hand experience of this but also helps developing key skills.