The Great Utopia: Upper School Art and CCS Exhibition, Dec 8th-Jan 16th

7th January 15

King Alfred School’s Art and Photography Department warmly invite you to The Great Utopia, an Exhibition by Year 13 Art History (Critical and Contextual Studies) & Photography Students, December 8th-January 16th.

Art History (CCS) students Sara and Honey have been studying social housing projects from the late 19th and 20th century, with a particular emphasis on Modernist architecture. From Hampstead Garden Suburb to Trellick Tower, at the heart of their research has been the close analysis of Modernism’s pursuit of a Utopian future, where design, town planning and technology would combine to create a fairer, more comfortable, better functioning society.

Post WWII saw a huge rise in the amount of social housing projects in London and throughout the UK, but the Modernist experiment was already faltering. By the 1980’s most were derided, demonized and then demolished, public executions of Modernism’s flawed and at worst failed ideas. However some projects survived and now enjoy the protection of Grade II listing. Le Corbusier’s idea of brutal buildings to reflect brutal times are now considered of significant enough historical and cultural importance to be protected forever, so what has changed?

Year 13 photography students have also been reflecting on our 21st century relationship with the 16th century idea of Utopia alongside the much later notion of Dystopia. Milla presents a series of works that on first impression seem to be from another time entirely. The images of figures in the landscape have an almost pastoral quality and look as much Victorian as contemporary. They are in fact labored over; hand printed and tinted images, and could perhaps be read as something of an antidote to the immediacy of the amateur snapshot photography that saturates social media and the press. Tom exhibits large-scale prints of flowers; however all is not what it seems. The decorative bouquets appear to be in a state of flux, somewhere between beauty and repulsiveness, life and death, decoration and destruction. Ryan presents us with a series of heavily staged photographs that feel plucked from a movie whose title and narrative you can’t quite remember. At once familiar and unsettling the melancholic images suggest all might not be well in lives of the comfortable, suburban middle classes.

The Great Utopia will be exhibiting from 8th December to 16th January in Upper School Art.

For more information email Sean Parfitt:  seanp@kingalfred.org.uk

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