Filling all 12 halls of the RSA building, the fourth annual New Contemporaries exhibition from the Royal Scottish Academy is a vast survey of emerging art school talent.
Selected by the RSA from the 2011 fine art and architecture degree shows, it takes in the work of 62 graduates from Edinburgh College of Art (ECA), Glasgow School of Art (GSA), Grays School of Art (Grays), Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (DJCAD) and Moray School of Art (Moray).
Spanning intricate architectural models and drawings to installations, painting and photography, artists were chosen last summer for the sum of their work and given the freedom to create new pieces – related to their degree show work – in response to the capacious RSA space.
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The result is as eclectic as one might expect.
But if themes, as such, don't emerge from these 12 spaces, there are emphases. Ecological matters – from recycled works to our relation to nature, globalisation and resources – frequently crop up. Exhibition convener Glen Onwin RSA points to interests in geopoetics, immigration, identity and psychology, myth-making, science and art itself. They've got it all covered.
Abstraction and conceptual work dominate, which makes browsing a challenge in a show that covers so much ground and so many rooms, particularly as nothing is directly labelled. You may find yourself short on time. A snapshot might give you Mike McCallum & Tommy Stuart's (ECA) imposing Monument, a steel cage that vibrates at different frequencies; or the tinkling of water on potatoes from Andrew Peter Mason's Potato Fountain (3).
Daniel Cook's (DJCAD) evocative Highland images depict abandoned structures, from the interior of the "Captain's Cabin" to a triptych of an abandoned croft, a stag and what looks like an electricity substation. Tom Hatton's (GSA) bleached-out photographs of North Africa and the Middle East leave you everywhere and nowhere. Further on, acme portraits by Mary Stephenson (also GSA) are filled with handmade props as if laid out for the stage.
Downstairs, video dominates. Deborah MacVicar (Moray) frolics in deer hides in the gloamin', or wades into the sea wearing antlers. But I particularly liked Hannah Harkes's (Grays) workstation, at which she scribbles, headphones on, while notices exhort visitors to ring the bell if they want anything explained. While I doubt her remit extends to the entire exhibition, given the lack of interpretive material or artist biogs – the one downside in an exhibition of such a size – she might be inundated.
RSA: New Contemporaries is at the Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture, The Mound, Edinburgh (0131 225 6671, www.royalscottishacademy.org) until April 11