Proximity, a second-year visual arts exhibition from a handful of students from Leeds Arts University, was an intimate, diverse affair. Described as “a multidisciplinary exhibition focusing on proximity within space, time and relationship”, the works were arranged in the small, crowded basement of the Hyde Park Book Club, a choice which forced the audience members to examine all the works up close. This central concept of ‘proximity’—to the art as well as to the other audience members—was utilised well for the majority of the exhibition.
The artists’ individual interpretations of the theme manifested in different ways in their pieces. One piece by Hayley Bohill, which depicted two hands almost touching, one shaded almost three-dimensional and the other flat and two-dimensional, was succinct yet evocative. Another, a set of photographs by Alia Drewery, explored the idea of proximity completely differently, but just as effectively. Portraying a long-haired man lit by multi-coloured lights against the backdrop of the pitch-black shadows of Hyde Park after dark, the work invited the viewer to come closer, capturing what it feels like to come across a stranger in unfamiliar territory.
A standout piece was a large print by Robyn Clements, depicting an intimate, casual scene of friends in a living room. The piece was visually striking, its bright colours jumping out at the viewer, its surprising detail inviting them in for a closer viewing. The visual intimacy of the scene itself was supplemented by the space it occupied, with audience members finding themselves, too, in a small, intimate space. Though these pieces explored the concept of ‘proximity’ in multi-dimensional ways, this wasn’t consistent throughout the entire exhibition, with one or two bearing seemingly tangential connections to the theme.
Overall, however, Proximity was an impressive showing from the students over at Leeds Arts University, utilising the cramped, small space provided by the Hyde Park Book Club and using it to reinforce the central ideas of the exhibition. It showcased some impressive creations, but more importantly, used the space itself to bolster the pieces.
(Images courtesy of Leeds Arts University)