Review: I Am Collective, Green Man Gallery

Eliott rose drawingI Am Collective
Green Man Gallery, Buxton, October 5-31

This small but intense exhibition is the work of a group of young artists. They are still at school but it is worth saying that no one asked them to put this work together or exhibit it.

It isn’t part of any coursework, it wasn’t suggested by teachers nor was it commissioned by the gallery. It was a project that they decided on.

Not only did they produce the artwork they also raised the money to cover the cost of putting on the exhibition.

I cannot know what they have learned from this show but it will surely stand them in good stead for whatever it is they choose to do next – collectively or not.

The confidence implied in the fact that the exhibition was mounted within a few months of its conception is also evident in much of the art itself.

The aim of the work is to examine how we think of ourselves, how others see us, how we present ourselves, who we are.

These are big questions, of course, and they are tackled boldly and directly by the artists. One visitor has already commented by contributing to an interactive piece: “I am so impressed by the integrity, honesty and emotion in this exhibition – everyone’s work speaks so  eloquently and the talent here is massive!”

Fittingly, big questions are addressed in a range of styles and forms and the artists don’t confine themselves to a single method or approach. The artists sometimes comment on their own work and what prompted it. Since the work is presented collectively I won’t here consider it singly. Better to spend time absorbing the plea made for tolerance, a resistance of assumptions or stereotyping.

Some of the work is bold, loud and provocative. But adjacent you will find something of great tenderness and wonder.

If you missed it, a flavour of what was on show can  be found at: http://www.iamcollective.weebly.com

Keith Savage