Opening hours

Thursday & Friday 12pm – 8pm
Saturday 11am – 8pm
Admission free

Preview: Thursday 1 November / 6.30-8.30pm / All welcome

Artists: Abbie Schug, Bethany Holden, Elizabeth Leonard, and Travis O’Connor

MK Gallery presents an exhibition of work by four promising graduates from three local universities. Devised in 2012 in collaboration with the CVAN South East (Contemporary Visual Arts Network South East), Platform Graduate Award 2018 is a partnership between five galleries; Aspex Gallery in Portsmouth, De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill, MK Gallery in Milton Keynes, Turner Contemporary in Margate, and Modern Art Oxford.  

Every year, each of the partner organisations selects graduates from their local university degree shows to participate in the Platform exhibitions and award programme, with a view to highlighting the outstanding talent of emerging visual artists. Each organisation subsequently nominates one of their exhibitors to be considered for the Platform Graduate Award, comprising a monetary award and a bespoke twelve-month programme of professional development.

This year’s graduates have been selected from the University of Northampton, University of Bedfordshire and University of Hertfordshire. 

About the Artists

Abbie Schug

Abbie Schug (b. Ipswich, 1997) studied BA (Hons) Fine Art Painting and Drawing at the University of Northampton, graduating in 2018. As a practising artist her research explores the relationship between the analogue and digital. Influenced by her keen interest in traditional portraiture and photography her work investigates the anatomy of the digital image whilst questioning the nature of viewing.  Abbie’s studio practice has seen the exploration of drawing, painting, photography, animation and printmaking.  Her most recent body of work uses oil on canvas to study solarised digital screens displaying anonymous portrait photographs. 

Living in Suffolk, Abbie has exhibited her work locally in curated group exhibitions at The Bank – a community arts centre in Eye, Suffolk. Where she also volunteered as assistant curator (2013 – 2015). Her painting Abbie - Self Portrait (2015) reached the final preliminary rounds of the RA Summer Exhibition  (2016). Most recent exhibitions include Roots at Avenue Gallery, Northampton (2017) and her final year Degree Show at the University of Northampton (2018). 

Bethany Holden

Bethany Holden has recently finished her final year of BA Photography and Video Art at the University of Bedfordshire. Holden was born in Sussex and previously studied in Brighton.

Holden is a multi-media artist with a passion for design, form, structure, screen printing, RISO printing, photography, textiles and book making.

In 2016 her work was shortlisted and shown in a group show highlighting the best of 1st and 2nd year students at the MK Gallery Project Space, Milton Keynes. In 2017 Holden curated and collaborated on the exhibition Generation Z at the Tokko Youth Centre in Luton.

'I create work out of a need to be other, the act of creating gives me a sense of order and purpose that centre’s me, it is for me a truly cathartic process. It is the constructed world as I walk around me, the everyday architecture that no matter the chaos and speed of life offer moments of beauty and stillness.

Realising this has led me to psychogeography, encountering the unexpected, revealing the character and aspects of place through it’s architectural and urban details whilst celebrating the overlooked. For me these buildings and urban spaces have developed an inherent patina of history, traces of weather and age, layers of use and misuse. These textures, layers, patterns and structures inform my compositions, taking the viewers eyes on their own journey

Elizabeth Leonard

Elizabeth studied BA Fine Art at the University of Hertfordshire.

My practice explores the balance between weight, tension and materiality whilst relating to the human condition and dependency within relationships. I am drawn to the way small objects are often overlooked and their useful designs taken for granted. Undervalued objects are extracted from everyday life and transformed into intense situations within my works, by altering their initial purpose, manipulating their original forms and upscaling their original size to create a confusing and shocking experience for viewers. The use of fragile balloons with solid metal rods portrays the stability and balance between strength and delicacy. When combining soft and hard objects, restriction and compression occurs, thus creating tension which pushes the fragility of the balloons to their limits.’ 

Travis O’Connor 

Travis studied BA Fine Art at the University of Hertfordshire.

I am a contemporary practitioner interested in exploring and expanding the field of printmaking. My work revolves around the themes of personal perception and identity while using the layering process of printmaking as a tool to explore these ideas, culminating in an often cryptographic outcome. This idea of process is extremely important throughout my work, having the freedom to physically work through my thoughts often leads to new ideas and techniques learnt, of which, many times cannot be replicated. It is this highly experimental and chance based practice that I believe gives my work its presence and all-encompassing nature. The use of materials is also of major significance throughout my work, from using a variety of non-conventional materials (including, Glass, Ceramic and Perspex) I have learnt that my printmaking knowledge can be channelled into any medium and material to hand. My ethos is learning to how take printmaking 'off of paper' in order to explore how it can be incorporated with a wider range of diverse materials, using it as a tool to relay the messages I feel appropriate in my practice, and to bring the discipline into a more contemporary environment. 

Throughout my work I am particularly interested in exploring the fundamental themes and core concepts in relation to Art History, Philosophy and Colour Theory. This includes exploration into areas such as form, pattern and symbols whilst simultaneously transcribing them through my own personal vision. My work is primarily an amalgamation of the varieties of conscious and subconscious influences encountered throughout everyday life; From metaphoric messages contained within imagery to the highly polished and contrasting relationship between colour and text. These aforementioned techniques all used as a mechanism to explore my relationship with art, identity and the wider perception of our current environment