Free Range: D&AD New Blood


Written by Caroline Doyle
Photos and illustrations by Petah Hayes
28 Monday 28th June 2010

Pay a visit to the Old Truman Brewery this week and you will find some of the country's most promising young creative types displaying their work in illustration, design, advertising and communication. The D&AD New Blood exhibition, in it's chaotic and colorful raucous joy is a very important platform for these graduates. Here they can find a direct interface with people from the industry, and hopefully secure that crucial first job in a notoriously difficult market.

Going down to the Truman Brewery and you find yourself in the swooningly hot atmosphere of a warehouse party created by the bright young things proudly showing off their work. Far from the competitive environment you may imagine, the New Blood Free Range show is in fact a celebration of the talent and promise of hundreds of graduates. On looking around, you can only imagine the colourful and innovative worlds these graduates will be creating for us in the next few years.
Encompassing work from countless universities and embracing all media, there's much to keep you entertained as you walk around. It's a little difficult to take everything in, but it is worth taking a close and thoughtful look at all the institution's displays because there are moments of joy in each.
Helen Vine's woodland creatures peer out from the corner of the Middlesex camp with eery and inquisitive eyes, partially hidden behind trees and foliage. Her children's book illustrations have a dreamy quality, with muted natural colours, but achieve an essential element of the sinister through bold lines and detached peepers. The traditional imagery of animals and cakes should not trick you into thinking this is ordinary and uninteresting illustration. She engages the viewer with the work by simulating a childlike curiosity, even in those of us a little more world-weary.
Tim McDonagh employed animals in a much darker way within his work. Myxomatosis, is an image of the disturbing effects of disease on animals in today’s environment. A rabbit, rendered in muted dusk colours from afar looks like a beautiful study of nature, but on closer inspection it is clear that something quite gruesome lies behind it. Flies creep over the rabbit's fur and a Pepsi cola lid submerged in the grass nearby creates a juxtaposition between nature and man, and life and death. His work A Juxtaposed Hippopotamos in the Moonlight works in a similar way, but here the contrast between what appears on the surface and what is happening beneath is more literally realised as the picture is split with half the animal above, and half below water. Above the water, a hippo appears to be peacefully looking out of the picture, comfortable in its natural environment, beneath the water however, it is half skeletal, ravaged by crocodiles. The contrast is startling, and the piece unsettles the viewer.
The exhibition is by no means an equally serious affair throughout – though the artists are no doubt serious about their craft, many of the best works were often humourous and engagingly witty. Ben Taylor's Mapping the Human is an image of simplicity – a poster listing various regionally exclusive words with similar meanings written in different typefaces. Confronting regional differences and separatism, the piece recognises the simple things that separates us and yet presents it in a manner that highlights unity. As different as the words are, the meanings are the same – it is our differences that unite us. The circus-esque font used in the poster is lighthearted and suggests a humour and freakishness to our communal oddities.
It may be sunny outside, but it really is worth sacrificing a little vitamin D with a trip to Free Range this week. The future stars of the creative industries are here displaying their work and as our society moves to be an ever more visual one, you can be sure that the media and design landscape will soon be shaped by these very eager hands.


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  • Guest: hello
    Mon 12 - Jul - 2010, 12:21
    We're such big fans of Tim McDonagh's work, we signed him to our illustration agency: Frank