Yesterday evening my husband and I had the privilege of visiting the Birmingham City University Art & Design School end of year show. I say privilege because we were fortunate enough to see one our friends receive an award for her work towards her MA in Architecture and to have a chance to see all her hard work in person. These kinds of moments are rare and priceless, to us that was the highlight of the evening.
That being said as a creative arts student myself, it seemed a shame to pass up an opportunity to look at the work of other creative students and a chance to see the difference between distance learning and learning in an institution. In the post that follows I’ll share some highlights from the show and my thoughts on the two different methods of study…
It was an incredibly packed, busy evening so forgive me if I mix up details or get project names wrong! Anyhow our friend has been studying towards an MA in Architecture so it was great to see some her work alongside the other students. Below are some photographs of a model the students in Studio 3 (created for a University project). The model shows an existing park in Birmingham which the students were asked to look at ways to improve access to and reduce the sense of barriers or boundaries between several different urban areas around the park (for instance housing, factories, offices).
As far as I remember the darker wooden buildings represent existing buildings around the park and the lighter wooden ones (and white one in photo above), are one proposed for development by the students. Personally my knowledge of Architecture is limited but it was fascinating to see how Architects can work together to provide solutions to urban issues and improve people’s quality of life through re-developing living and working spaces.
Now onto a slightly different topic…
Having studied Printmaking in my first year of university but learning from home I was super excited to see the print studio’s at BCU. Clearly my enthusiasm was high because I bothered to capture the studio with the photographs below:
It was somewhat bittersweet for me seeing the equipment in the studio. On the one hand I felt excited to see the variety of tools and printmaking methods available to the students; metal type, block printing, screen printing, relief, letter press, and those were just the immediately visible options. I was slightly disheartened seeing just how much these students have at their disposal and that I’ve had to work from home and gradually acquire printing equipment as our budget permits. It’s a clear perk of studying at an institution rather than from home – unlimited access to not just equipment/tools in your field of interest but also to others (say ceramics, photography studios) around the university.
This is probably the part I struggle with most about studying from home (aside from the loneliness), not having access to all the things I’d like to experiment with!
However on the positive side of this – I really have had to work hard to build up practical and theoretical skills and understanding for myself. I take nothing for-granted, there was a sense wandering round of just how comfortable (perhaps overly) the students were with the university. I think it’s easy when you have access to so much at little to no cost to forget or be unaware that come graduation you’ll be the one having to find suppliers, studios, pay for equipment and handle clients, there’s no friendly technician or studio supplies on hand.
Having said all that – I think for my second year Printmaking studies I will be looking to pay to join Birmingham Printmaking Studios – to have a chance to learn from more experienced print-makers and have the tools to really develop my own skills and practice.
Illustration or Visual Communication has been another area of interest for me, so it seemed natural to want to have a sneak peak at the work of some Illustrators. it’s tempting to photograph everything you see – but I kept myself calm and just photographed three illustrators who caught my eye.
Another handy part of the degree show was the prevalence of little business cards – I love the chance to find out more about an illustrator or designer. Plus I think the cards themselves tell you something about the person or brand itself. In the photograph left are the three illustrators business cards I picked up during the evening.
Katie Mowbray’s work instantly caught my attention, she likes to use printmaking methods (mostly screen printing) and a hand drawn quality for her illustrations. I loved that her business card was printed on textured card, it gave it a real tactile quality and fitted with the printerly quality of her illustrations.
The screen print above is wonderfully vivid in colours and textures, it really reflects the lively nature of the subject. I also am really impressed by the size of it, printing an AO size screen print takes careful planning, she’s clearly very talented!
Lesley Imgart describes herself as a story teller and I really think that description matches her work. As soon as I saw the illustrations on show I could see a story unfolding, and I found it easy to place myself in the shoes of the characters she had created, that’s got to be a good sign right?
An focal point for her work seems to be exploring themes like anxiety through the medium of story telling/illustration. I think the illustrations in the image above capture the feeling of gloom or sadness, like being followed by a black cloud when your mind or the voice of anxiety seems to shout insults at you all day long. There’s something about seeing these inner thoughts brought out onto paper that somehow exposes just how cruel and un-true they can be! Seeing these illustrations really helped me to re-focus my own thoughts after a day spent battling with my own anxiety based thinking patterns.
Subject aside – I also really love the texture and colour use – her work is digitally made by still had that handmade quality, making it warm and accessible.
Final thoughts are about the beautiful printed textiles above by Sophie Kozlowski. Sadly her website doesn’t seem to work, so her instagram feed was all I could link to. I just enjoyed seeing someone apply print and pattern to textiles in an illustrative way! I love her muted colour palette and the the theme of creatures or plants you may find in rock pools. I think it works wonderfully!
And that’s it!