Professor joins Turner Prize winner to celebrate their former tutor

Photographs by a professor at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) are being shown alongside work by artists such as Damien Hirst at a London exhibition focusing on their former art tutor.

Lala Meredith-Vula is now Professor of Art and Photography at DMU with her own established reputation and a prestigious catalogue of exhibitions across the world under her belt.

LALA 1987 Carl Plackman Peter Kennelly b LR

Lala Meredith-Vula's 1987 student project photo of Carl Plackman (right) running a tutorial

But back in the 1980s she was a Fine Art student at Goldsmiths College at the University of London and her personal tutor was Carl Plackman, a celebrated sculptor also known for his drawings, installations and occasional photography.

He was also an influential teacher who taught at several institutions in London and across the UK, including at Goldsmiths. He died in 2004, but today, the Pangolin London gallery launches Carl Plackman and His Circle, an exhibition of work by him, his fellow tutors and his students.

Many of Plackman’s former students went on to become major names of the British arts scene, including Sir Tony Cragg, Turner Prize winner Hirst, New York-based Liam Gillick and Alison Wilding, another Turner Prize nominee.

Lala with Damian Hirst

Lala Meredith-Vula setting up Freeze 1988 with Damian Hirst

Professor Meredith-Vula said: “It was an extraordinary time in which I studied with amazing tutors and students. They treated us like artists rather than students.

“It was a vibrant atmosphere to study art in and there were many tutors along with Carl who were so inspiring, such as Ian Jeffrey, the author of Photography: A Concise History and The Photo Book.

“This show really is a small sample of the time, which could make a larger show in a major museum.”

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Prof Meredith-Vula’s first show was in Hirst’s landmark exhibition Freeze in 1988, now famous for launching the wave of Young British Artists (YBA).

She saw her Haystacks series of photos exhibited last year as part of the prestigious Artissima festival in Turin, Italy, where a separate solo exhibition of her work is continuing at the Alberto Peola Gallery.

She was born in Sarajevo in what is now Bosnia and Herzegovina, to an Albanian father and British mother but moved to Britain as a child. The first of her Haystacks photos was taken in 1989, the year after she completed her studies at Goldsmiths. That year, she first toured the Kosova countryside with her father, taking photos of haystacks and other images to tell deeper tales about how war, blood feuds and economic pressures had affected people.

This year, she is planning to publish a book to mark 30 years since the beginning of the series, plus she is leading a new project, Balkan Girl Power, giving girls aged 16 to 26 from five countries in the West Balkans the chance to work with mentors and exhibit their work at an exhibition in the Center For Openness and Dialogue in Albania later in 2019.

Posted on Tuesday 15th January 2019

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