Amazing creations from the latest crop of talented artists
Across its two campuses at Bower Ashton and St Matthias, Fishponds – not to mention the dozens of Fine Art students beavering away at Spike Island – the University of the West of England's Department of Creative Industries is one of the UK's biggest, best-known and most fertile arts departments.
UWE has been training generations of students in the creative arts for over 150 years, and both its teaching and research are internationally renowned. Notable arts alumni include sculptor/ printmaker Paul Coldwell, painter/ designer David Fisher, Aardman director Chris Sadler and renowned sculptor Richard Long.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the department's annual Degree Show is a big date on the national arts calendar: a brilliant early preview of the next generation of talented (deep breath) graphic designers, illustrators, animators, photographers, film-makers, fine artists, printmakers, journalists and fashion designers. And 2012's show is no exception: indeed, it's the biggest yet, with more than 500 undergraduate and postgraduate artists showcasing their work.
Among the 2012 graduates exhibiting is Charlotte Harman, who made the crossover from illustration to animation because she wanted to see her creations come to life. Charlotte will be showing, among other things, her stop-motion animation Neebles, an adventure featuring various bizarre and beguiling fabric beasties.
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"It was inspired by the Eighties claymation series The Trap Door, one of my favourite TV programmes as a child," she explains. "It's about a group of creatures going about their everyday business when a grey cloud comes along and steals their colours. The tagline is 'Never let a grey cloud ruin your day'."
Elsewhere, illustration student David Biskup's graphic novel Yuri follows a fictional Eastern European pop sensation and his treacherous journey to a concert in Moynaq, a town on the fast-disappearing Aral Sea. David's tale was Highly Commended in the MacMillan Children's Book Competition.
"Narrative and characters play a hugely important role in my work," David reflects. "I want to tell simple stories in a fun and visually exciting way and I hope that my work has a certain sense of humour and whimsy about it – but that's for others to judge."
The photography crop, meanwhile, includes Mary Roe, who switched from studying architecture to photography after she realised she wanted to photograph buildings rather than design them.
"My work tends to focus on empty and abandoned spaces that have an eerie atmosphere – a strange beauty that draws the viewer in," she reveals.
Graphic design is a traditionally strong suit at UWE, and three of this year's graduates made the eight-strong UK shortlist for The RSA Student Design Awards, the UK's oldest student design competition.
UWE's Rebecca Penmore won the award, in fact, with her project The Pub Hub Club, a knowledge-sharing scheme that aims to keep pubs at the heart of local communities.
"I had been to several pubs that were beginning to diversify via new services such as book swaps and sewing services," Rebecca explains.
"It seemed like a great way to build up relationships within communities. During my research I interviewed several landlords who were all more than happy to share their success stories. This got me thinking that there ought to be an easy way for them to share their hints and tips with one another."
Angela Partington, UWE's head of creative industries, says: "We are very proud to showcase this year's talented artists, designers, makers and practitioners at our biggest Degree Show ever.
"With so many of them receiving recognition and awards nationally and internationally, it's been a fantastic year for our final-year students, and this is a brilliant opportunity to see the artworks that have been making such waves."
The Creative Industries Degree Show 2012 takes place from Saturday, June 9 to Thursday, June 14 at UWE Bower Ashton Campus, Ashton Court, Spike Island Studios and BV Studios, Bedminster. See listings for details.