NCAD Show 2019 showcases students’ strong ‘social imagination’ and a diversity of ‘making practices’
Work produced by graduates from the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) is striking evidence of the students’ keen social awareness and their ability to critically reflect on challenging questions. Through a diversity of making practices, it displays many insightful propositions as to how we might imagine our world differently. That’s according to Director of NCAD, Professor Sarah Glennie, who was speaking at a preview of the NCAD Show 2019, which opens to the public.
Migration, Brexit and the Border, climate change and Ireland’s housing crisis are among the contemporary social issues that are explored in depth by students. “In exploring these issues, we see that our students not only look at the causes and arising social implications, but they also examine possible responses needed to make sure that social cohesion and social solidarity are maintained,” said Prof. Glennie.
“Social change, climate change, movement of people, the growing digital economy – change is happening at a very fast pace and it’s increasingly difficult for the established systems and norms of the world to keep up with this. In recent years alone, our students have experienced momentous shifts in social outlook. In Ireland, we have seen significant changes to legislation on marriage equality, abortion and divorce, while globally, the rapid deterioration of our biodiversity and diminishing natural resources represent an unparalleled, urgent challenge.
“Our students are developing their creative practices in this changing contemporary world and their learning at NCAD foregrounds the development of their ‘social imagination’. By social imagination we are referring to the capacity of art and design to create a space to imagine our world differently. Our students approach this in many different ways – from critical reflection on our shared lived experience to innovative solutions to challenges we face in contemporary society. Across the very diverse and individually distinct practices represented in these graduate shows, there is a common awareness of the wider societal context in which their work is being made, and a confidence and ambition to make work that in some way impacts on and contributes to contemporary society.”
A community of ‘makers’
NCAD is also drawing attention to its location in the heart of Dublin’s Liberties, an area with a strong heritage of industry and ‘making’. Prof. Glennie commented: “NCAD is proud to be based in the heart of the Liberties, one of Dublin’s most vibrant and diverse communities. For centuries, it has been a district where things are made and things happen. From Huguenot silverwork, wool and silk weaving, whiskey distilleries and beer breweries, and, more recently, digital industries, our community is one of ‘makers’, and that tradition remains at the core of NCAD.
“Studying at NCAD offers a unique range of in-depth specialisations from Ceramics and Glass, to Media, Textile & Surface Design, Interaction Design, Illustration and Medical Device Design, all of which support students to develop their own distinct practices through studio-based thinking, making and doing in both the material and digital worlds. This diversity of making practices is evident, not just in the range of specialisations available at NCAD, but in how this year’s graduates combine traditional skills with cutting edge technologies, from fresco painting, knit and weave to laser-cutting and virtual reality. There is also a renewed interest in the sustainability of materials used with students recycling, upcycling and repurposing.”
Immersive practical experiences and industry collaborations
An important objective of NCAD’s approach to fostering the art and design talent of tomorrow is to offer students opportunities to immerse themselves in real-world work environments, to build skills and expertise by collaborating with students and staff from other disciplines and to engage creatively with community and civic society. Through NCAD’s Studio+ programme, undergraduate students in Design and Fine Art can participate in an optional additional year to develop their practice across a range of commercial, cultural and social settings.
Prof. Glennie said: “This year, the first cohort of Design students who have undertaken our Studio+ year are graduating from NCAD, while the academic year 2018/19 marked the first year that Studio+ was available to our Fine Art students. As part of the programme, the School of Fine Art has developed collaborations and student placement opportunities with partners such as James’ Hospital’s Mercer’s Institute for Successful Aging (MISA), and Rialto Youth Project. Meanwhile, many of our Design students have completed internships with leading design companies, have worked on a variety of live industry projects, or studied at one of our international partner institutions via our Studio International programme.”
The NCAD Show 2019 features the work of graduates from NCAD’s Schools of Fine Art, Design and Education, together with postgraduates from the MFA in Fine Art, MFA in Digital Art and MFA Design programmes. In addition, a selection of work in progress is on display by postgraduates in Design. In total, work by 225 students will feature in the exhibition.