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Thursday 29 September 2016

Working it out: Dreaming of youthful enthusiasms

John Masterson

Published 17/08/2015 | 02:30

Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill

Churchill said something along the lines that if you are not Liberal in your 20s you have no heart, and if you are not Conservative by your 40s you have no brain. The quote has been recycled many times but the sentiment stays much the same.

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These thoughts were much in my mind when I visited the Glasgow School of Art Degree Show recently to have a look at the work of the current crop. I try to believe that I have never become too conservative with the passing years but I know life has taken its toll on youthful beliefs like "all people are innately good" and that "given the right environment people will flourish." I now know that people make a lot of their own reality, and that lazy, good-for-nothing sods exist.

There has always been that bit of mystique about art students. They were immortalised in Roger McGough and Mike McGear's (Paul McCartney's brother) Scaffold album years ago. It is hard not to think of people who went to art college as being very cool and sexy. When you look at the biogs of all sort of innovative people, lo and behold they did a spell in art college.

The Glasgow School degree class are fairly cool as shown in their magazine, The Skinny: Independent Cultural Journalism. Between the covers are all sort of examples of creativity and hard work, which suggests that they probably do not lead a life quite as dissolute are their forebears in the Sixties. There is, however, a very healthy dose of youthful cynicism and a look at mainstream society which suggests that, although most will become that very society, they will keep a slightly askance view of the world that will immunise them against being conservative or dull.

My first LOL (which I think is 'Laugh Out Loud' and not 'Lots of Love' as some out-of-touch adults believe) was given by Lauren Davis, who made a beautiful piece of marble inscribed with all the pomp of a memorial reading 'Nothing Has Happened Her Yet.' Politics were savaged by another student who prepared all of the promotional materials for 'The Middle Class Party' (who are very understanding people who know 'how hard it is out there'). That was LOL number two, and a bit of guilt as maybe there was more of me in that than I would like to admit. Some of the work was for sale and I had to buy the 'I Kind of Have a Dream' poster as that was me to a T. It hurt, and now I look at it every day and try vainly to recover youthful enthusiasms.

Outstanding was the work of Tara Masterson Hally who created a range of mugs, keychains and postcards themed 'Souvenirs From Hell'. The reviewer saw it as a "meditation on the aesthetics of bad taste, gaudy consumerist capitalist positivity and ridiculous happiness."

That's my talented niece. I am so glad I gave her that 'Think Big' badge all those years ago. Must take her to Knock for her birthday.

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