What ties New School founder Sam Ross with art director Gareth Wrighton, image-maker Ib Kamara and photographer Campbell Addy? Besides each of them being phenomenal talents in their own right, they all come from the same humble beginnings, meeting on the fashion communication course at Central Saint Martins in the early 2010s, then taught by writer, historian and educator Judith Watt. A decade later and the quadruple are as close as ever, proven by their inclusion in Sam Ross' New School collective, positioned in the same space (180 The Strand) as Dazed Media offices, where Kamara is editor-in-chief. Small world, huh? Well, not exactly. Their friendship and collaborative success are spearheaded by their recognition in the importance of community, which also lies at the heart of New School's debut exhibition MAJOR.
Curated by Sam Ross - founder of New School Represents - with the help of Gareth Wrighton, MAJOR marks a euphoric celebration of a collective reaction to the current stagnating creative status quo. It is, says Ross, 'all about community'; a space for its extensive collaborators to practice in a variety of media, bearing all the hallmarks of old-style rebellion while challenging art college thinking geared up to the contemporary and reflecting the now.
Born from the realisation that a strong community fosters even stronger creativity, MAJOR is not only about the art on show but the artists the collective unwaveringly supports. Grounded in friendship and community, it's no surprise many of the featured artists have previously collaborated like when artist and SHOWstudio contributor Joseph Lokko walked in Gareth Wrighton's A/W 20 Fashion East collection, designed with the help of Jawara Alleyne. Or when exhibiting set designer Lydia Chan collaborated with Ib Kamara's husband and photographer Justin French, who also has work featured in the exhibition. French has also worked with movement director Yagamoto, who has worked with stylist Imruh Asha who, funnily, is the current fashion director at Dazed. Asha's Dazed colleagues include Bior Elliot and Ester Mejibovski who, too, have work featured in MAJOR. These are just some of the artists, photographers, image-makers and stylists who fall at the forefront of the New School vanguard which champions talent from across the world proven by the decision to include a collation of 15 flags at the beginning of the exhibition - each representing the origins of the artists involved.
The excellence of Gareth Wrighton is channelled through his submission Stronger, while Ib Kamara's furniture Uncomfortable is instead telling in name, with the deliberate antithesis of lounging comfort - yet astonishing in vision - captivating you all the same. Joseph Lokko's alter ego persona has been unearthed, visualised in a life-size cutout of the stylist decked in one of his own creations, while Tom Schneider's sprawling braided black rubber ring Lazy Fruit provides commentary on 'deep domestic behaviours' as Campbell Addy's image Am I Paining You questions the evil standards and conditions that befall upon the LGBTQIA+ community.
There's a new spirit floating around, thanks to New School, tapping into the kind of creative expression that is becoming rarer by the year to find in today's elite art schools. This is what the collective is about; trust us, it's MAJOR.