MAstars 2012: David MacDiarmid, MA Fine Art
David MacDiarmid, Super Cosy Cosmos, 2012. Wooden structure, carpet, brass trim. 36cm x 53cm x 46cm
Debra Wilson & Chiara Williams of WW Gallery select David MacDiarmid from City and Guilds of London Art School for MAstars
This year’s John Moores painting prize in Liverpool saw what was described by Andrew Bracey for a-n magazine as ‘the staggering return of formal abstraction’. Indeed, WW Gallery had already noted this trend and exhibited a number of examples of geometric abstraction in GROUP 2012 (our long-list exhibition for the WW SOLO Award) in July earlier this year. Another apparent trend in GROUP 2012 was for craft-based works incorporating textiles and stitching.
Amongst the works in this year's City & Guilds Fine Art MA, David MacDiarmid’s sculptures seemed also to have tapped into these resurgences, immediately speaking to us with their use of geometric forms placed in non-illusionistic space and combined into non-objective compositions. His work put us in mind of the amazing Sonia Delaunay's work in modern design, which included the concepts of geometric abstraction, the integration of furniture, fabrics, wall coverings and clothing.
David MacDiarmid 'uses domestic carpet in his meticulous hand-stitched sculptures of geometric and scientific forms, juxtaposing the mundane and the ideal.'1
At first glance these sculptures reference a retro-futurist nostalgia, wrapping up myriad cultural notions of Britishness, tradition, taste, class and aspiration into neat and not-so-neat geometric bundles. The seductive curves and facets of these forms seek to mathematically contain all this implied angst and history which, on further inspection, thankfully spills out here and there.
David MacDiarmid, Diamond Geezer, 2012. Wooden Structure, carpet, bronze mirror. 43cm x 58cm x 43cm
The individual works themselves, such as 'Super Cosy Cosmos' (2012) and 'Diamond Geezer' (2012), are visually satisfying and clearly communicate a series of intentional juxtapositions: the organic and the manmade; precision and imperfection; the universal and the intimate; the elusive and the tactile; and the complex interstices between science, fine art, design, architecture and craft; modernism and postmodernism. Pleasingly, all these allusions multiply, shift and blur with each vision and revision and so the work improves and rewards through the act of looking.
At the degree show we were somewhat distracted by the plinths on which these works stood. They confused the boundary between the work and its support, and for us this was a third and unnecessary element to the work. The form of the plinths seemed to jostle uncomfortably with the geometry of the works themselves. The works make better sense displayed in other contexts.
David MacDiarmid, City and Guilds of London Art School MA Show installation view, 2012
We are often drawn to works that function at once viscerally and conceptually, which atavistically borrow from the Uncanny, from Surrealism and from popular culture. As we have said, MacDiarmid’s work drew us into its ‘super cosy’ orbit and ultimately left us wanting to see more and know more. For these reasons, David MacDiarmid is our one-to-watch and our MAstar 2012.
1. City & Guilds press release
Selected by Debra Wilson & Chiara Williams of WW Gallery
Published December, 2012
About WW Gallery
WW is an artists' run project space with a proven track-record for spotting and nurturing talent and curating inspired and subversive exhibitions. Established in 2008 in a converted Victorian terraced house in Hackney, East London, WW is soon to announce the opening of another space in central London.
WW's directors Debra Wilson and Chiara Williams are both practising and exhibiting artists and have curated a number of successful shows and events, on and off-site, including collateral UK exhibitions at the 53rd & 54th Venice Biennales.
Breaking away from the tendency of their East End counterparts to show work with a dry and introspective concern with theory, concept and the politics of the art industry, WW looks outward by staging shows centered around wider social and cultural themes. The result is often dark, frequently humorous and at once democratic and challenging.
The duo has been invited to give talks and participate in conferences on curating at national and international universities and also offers one-to-one tailored advice and consultation on different aspects of arts management, professional development and collecting.