Our Art and Photography editor Yu Ching Yau reviews the second Culture Y show.    

Following a successful first show as part of On the Rocks last year, Culture Y returned on the 4th of April as an independent festival, wooing film and art lovers back with a strong programme of short films and the new addition of a material art exhibition.

After exploring the relationship between culture and identity, this year’s theme of Spaces works naturally as a stepping stone into considering how we are influenced by the physical and mental constructions in our lives. With such a theme, it was obviously important to choose an appropriate setting, and the airy upper floor of the Byre certainly complemented the art that adorned its walls. The works were put on display from the morning, giving early attendees the chance to meander around and admire them.

The selection of artwork included:

  • The Sonder of Space by Archanna Evans Smith
  • The Grease Fam of Litchfield, CT by Juliana N. Zaharevich
  • Postcards from Florence by Ellie Orrell
  • Epidermolysis Bullosa by Zoe Berkeley
  • L’eté Français di una Persona Introversa by Federica Crescenzi
  • Hangover Depression by Catriona Howie
  • Boxed by Callum Mason
  • Stained Glass Soul by Louise Wheeler

I was particularly fascinated by The Grease Fam of Litchfield, CT and Hangover Depression, two works which evoked a certain sense of rawness. The first was a series of collages made up of amateurish printed photos of laddish figures and newspaper clippings. Zaharevich explains that it is a depiction of her ‘greasy’ hometown friends, all jumbled together in a mess, representing the public and private spaces that they ‘claimed and adapted to [their] own purposes.’ Hangover Depression was another thought-provoking work entirely based on the concept of drunk painting, with surprisingly melancholic results. The flat colours combined with a style reminiscent of naïve art were simply compelling to the point that you don’t need to linger too long in front of it, in a great way.

At 4:30 or so, the crowd was invited to enter the screening room, where Culture Y founders Alexis Gostelow and Alexandra Nicolae introduced the impressive panel of judges, including Stephanie O’Rourke, Dina Iordanova, Valeria Duca, Boris Bosilikov, Max McCance and Chris Sproson. This diverse lineup of judges come from a variety of backgrounds in the arts and creative industries, clearly demonstrating the festival’s aim to represent a multitude of perspectives.

Four short films were screened:

  • Elegy for Dunelm House – Konrad Urban
  • Water Ways – Isaree Thatchaichawalit
  • Train of Thought – Indre Tuminaiskaite and Mado Gianni
  • Motswari – Glen Kennedy

Each film had its own unique style and interpretation of the theme. Elegy for Dunelm House and Train of Thought are especially commended for their experimental spirit. The first involved a performer navigating through the space of Dunhelm House, a brutalist building left to fall into disrepair in Durham. Like the vines engulfing the concrete, the performer creeps and lays her spatial and temporal claim. The latter short film stood out for its ambitious narrative featuring a diverse range of characters scattered around the ‘world’ (of easily recognisable places in St Andrews). The story moves from country to country at different times of day, in an effort to demonstrate the intimate connection between time and space. Mundane conversations are followed by philosophical ramblings, imitating the scattered form of an undeveloped train of thought. Finally, I also immensely enjoyed Water Ways by Isaree Thatchaichawalit as I identified with her simple but inspiring idea of connecting the places in her life with the flows of water.

The final winners:

Audience Choice

Catriona Howie, Hangover Depression

Acrylic Paint

Best Film

Konrad Urban, Elegy of Dunelm House

Director: Konrad Urban

Actress and Directors: Olga Briks

Best Material Art

Callum Mason, Boxed

Ink on paper

3rd Prize

Archanna Evans Smith, The Sonder of Space


2nd Prize

Isaree Thatchaichawalit, Water Ways


1st Prize

Callum Mason, Boxed

Ink on paper

Overall, the second Culture Y show was a success and is well on its way to being a staple of St Andrews’ arts scene. The theme of Spaces worked well to integrate material art into the high-quality film program. I enjoyed it and would not hesitate to recommend next year’s show to anyone interested in seeing what our students have to offer.

Check out the Culture Y website to watch the films, see photos from the event and get updates on their upcoming events: