Graduate exhibits solo art show virtually – Bath Spa University
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Bath Spa Contemporary Arts Practice graduate exhibits her solo art show virtually

Thursday, 8 April, 2021

Facing the prospect of her solo exhibition being postponed due to the pandemic, artist and Bath Spa University graduate Niamh Birch wondered whether she should take some downtime. Instead she made the most of her unique lockdown experience and launched her first virtual solo exhibition at Studio KIND in North Devon.

Niamh developed her artistic talents whilst undertaking her degree in BA (Hons) Contemporary Arts Practice. Talking about this period of self-discovery Niamh said:

“My three years in the Contemporary Arts Practice course helped piece together my slow-forming style within painting and art. I discovered the artists that still influence my work every day, and surprisingly I miss the critiques of my tutors.

I started using oil paints, repeating symbols and motifs throughout my work and the post-degree show led to a residency at 44AD artspace gallery and studios in Bath.”

With her solo exhibition at 44AD artspace being cut short due to Covid-19 restrictions, Niamh travelled south and began working out of her garage in her hometown of Braunton, North Devon. Her decision to work from home paid off and embracing digital trends in the art industry is what led to her current solo exhibition at Studio KIND.

Niamh’s piece, I don’t care as long as it’s on the rocks, is a combination of her current works, including an installation and a 10-metre-long mural. Niamh said: “Underpinned by a light-heartedness and humour, my subject-matter nods towards still life and traditional symbolism, whilst also addressing our everyday associations through familiar imagery. Against the backdrop of having spent so much time in our own domestic spaces in the past year, the exhibition presents compositions that are both familiar and strange; playful and thoughtful.”

Another of Niamh’s artistic projects, Willow, has seen her team up with fellow Braunton based Bath Spa University graduate Jake Ogden who studied BA (Hons) Photography. Niamh and Jake collaborated together to create a short art film set on the local beach.

Discussing the project Niamh said:

“I had an idea to paint a huge piece of work in a vast outdoor area and make it into a film. Luckily I live by the coast and have a talented filmmaker as a friend. I planned to do it at first light with the hope that the beach would be deserted...it was not.

We woke at around 5:30am, I pushed a wheelbarrow full of tins of paint as far down the beach as my arms could take, rolled out a 10x2 metre piece of canvas and let loose.”

Niamh admits she did not have a plan of what to paint to begin with but trusted that the inspiration would come. She said: “I just hoped that these symbols and objects I'd been drawing for the past four to five years would spring to mind and they did. It was cold and what felt like hundreds of dogs flying up to us made it a tad stressful, but ultimately, I found the film to be so beautifully shot, I couldn't be more proud of it.”

Seeing the positive impact it has had on those that have watched the film, Niamh reflects on the outcome: “From the feedback we received, I know it gave viewers a sense of wholesomeness and joy, which was nice to hear after the year we've all had. Special thanks to Willow the Red Setter for the paw prints and the title.”

You can see more of Niamh’s current artwork on her Instagram page.

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