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Work by Cat and Éiméar McClay
For Cat and Eimear McClay, graduating at the beginning of the pandemic was stressful. In reaction to the sudden restriction of their material-based practice, they decided to build the video-installation work planned for the physical degree show using 3D-modelling software. 

Since graduating, the twins have continued their collaborative practice producing an interdisciplinary body of work comprising of video, 3D models, installation and digital collage.

Why we chose Intermedia BA (Hons) at ECA

Initially, we were interested in ECA because we wanted to study in Scotland. We were also drawn to the central location of the campus and the extensive workshop facilities. Out of the various fine art pathways offered, we chose Intermedia based on its cross-disciplinary focus. We each wanted to combine video and installation work practices and thought that Intermedia would supply the most fertile ground for this kind of experimentation.

The possibility offered in first and second year to undertake modules run by other schools across the University of Edinburgh also attracted us to apply. This allowed us to undertake a European Cinema class in second year, which greatly influenced our research practice for that semester. We were drawn to the breadth of disciplines covered by the tutors associated with the course; we hoped that their mentoring would help us to harmonise the various elements of our practice. We were greatly interested in the conceptual focus of the course, as we both enjoy critical theory and politics and felt that we could easily incorporate this research into our work.  

Our time at ECA 

During our third year, our work was selected for the 2019 Trading Zone, an interdisciplinary group show at Talbot Rice Gallery featuring student work from across the wider university. As well as showing our work, we were asked to create the promotional artwork for the show - the opportunity to be involved in the exhibition enhanced our artistic and professional development by exposing our work to critique by experienced curators and supplied insight into how professional galleries organise and run events. During that same year, we took part in an exhibition in Granton Walled Garden for our 'Presentation: Methods and Context' class. Visiting the garden and creating artwork that responded to the site taught us how to make work for a specific public context that is sensitive to the community it is intended to benefit.

We both really enjoyed the School of Art Friday Talks; the programme featured talks from some of our favourite artists and writers, including Linda Stupart, The White Pube and Alberta Whittle. We also had tutorials with visiting artists including Monster Chetwynd and Adam Lewis-Jacob. These opportunities gave us the chance to engage with professionals from across a variety of fine art disciplines and the workshops held by many of the guest artists after their lectures were a great way to discover new ways of working.

One of the most valuable things we gained from our time at ECA was the peer group we gained through our programme. This helped develop our ideas and allowed us to collaborate on extracurricular projects. In our final year, we formed an audio-visual collective entitled ‘Intermedia Film Collective’ with classmates, through which we organised online screenings over lockdown.

Our experiences since graduating 

Graduating at the beginning of the pandemic was stressful as we lost all access to the workshops available on campus. In reaction to the sudden restriction of our material-based practice, we decided to build the video-installation work we had planned for the physical degree show using 3D-modelling software such as Blender. The strong digital focus of our practice before the pandemic helped us to present our work effectively in our online coursework submissions.

Since graduating, we have been involved in a variety of projects, however, due to restrictions, all the physical exhibitions we have been asked to take part in have been postponed until further notice. Much of what we have been able to take part in has been online. Recently we took part in Wretched Light Industry, an immersive online 3D game/exhibition organised by Glasgow School of Art graduates Ben Hall and Jay Darlington. The project included the work of over 30 emerging digital artists, each of whom built a 3D environment. As Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2020 selected artists, we exhibited work on both their online platform and as part of a takeover on their Instagram page. From this, we were invited to participate in a professional development programme. This has opened us up to various residencies and opportunities, as well as providing mentorship via tutorials with high profile art industry professionals.

"We both really enjoyed the School of Art Friday Talks; the programme featured talks from some of our favourite artists and writers, including Linda Stupart, The White Pube and Alberta Whittle."

Cat and Éiméar McClay

2020 Intermedia BA (Hons) alumni

Based on our online degree show, we were selected for RSA New Contemporaries 2021, which is scheduled to take place next year. Showcasing our work online, afforded us the chance to exhibit our video work on the screen at Piccadilly Circus as part of Circa, Class of 2020, Europe’s largest digital art exhibition and to show our graduate work as part of i-D and ARTSTHREAD Global Graduate Design Show 2020 online exhibition. 

Alumni wisdom

Our advice to someone starting their first year in September is to experiment as much as possible with their practice in the early stages of their degree while they are under less pressure to achieve specific grades. Since graduating, we have been surprised by how much time we have had to spend writing applications for different opportunities. This can be tiring, especially when applications are unsuccessful. We would advise someone graduating soon not to get demoralised by this aspect of practicing as an artist, as many of our failures have functioned as great learning curves, which have served to enhance later projects.

Associated programmes