a-n Degree Shows Guide 2024

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Degree Shows Guide/2024

New Art For Now Telling Stories, Making Connections
Varshga Premarasa, Sheba, 60x80cm, oil and acrylic on canvas board, 2023.

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The biggest showcases of art, design, architecture, performance, and media by Norwich University of the Arts graduates. @norwichuniarts May – September GRAD
To see the full guide to our inperson and online shows, visit:

1 Varshga Premarasa, Old Days, 80x60cm, oil and acrylic on canvas, 2023.

2 Cleo Stoutzker, Pillow of Rock, A2, ink, acrylic and oil paint on card, 2023.

3 Lewis Cavinue, Reading Positions, performance installation, 2024.

4 Alice Triff, Enclosure, photography, 2023.


Gwilym Pearce Jones, Dog Show 61x122cm, acrylic and coloured pencil on paper and board, 2023-2024.

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a-n Head of Programmes Wing-Sie Chan introduces our 2024 publication



Featuring interviews and profiles of work by 31 graduating students from 28 art schools in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland



Middlesex University student Varshga Premarasa draws on her family’s Sri Lankan heritage for her playful, narrativerich paintings



For Edinburgh College of Art student Cleo Stoutzker, geological time and human experience form a deep connection



The paintings of Wolverhampton School of Art student Shannon Ward foreground Black representation and the emotional ties of family life



Carmarthen School of Art’s Gwilym Pearce Jones combines his love of old master paintings with contemporary stories and concerns



Through self-portraiture, University of Plymouth student Amy Lee-Julian is addressing her own disability and society’s reactions to it



We catch up with six 2023 graduates featured in last year’s Degree Shows Guide to find out what they’ve been up to, and if they have any advice for the Class of 2024

7 Contents 4 5

Welcome to this year’s a-n Degree Shows Guide

At this time of year, as new artists present their work to friends, family and the wider public, the cultural and societal value of art becomes clearer than ever.

After all, while hardly a day has gone by over the last 12 months without us being told that the future belongs to artificial intelligence rather than human creativity, the art and ideas featured in this Degree Shows Guide reveal a very different story.

Perhaps tellingly, it is a story that seems to foreground mainly analogue mediums, its plot twists and turns featuring painting, sculpture, textiles, performance and video.

Materiality and a passion for narrative is threaded throughout much of the students’ work. This art for now has stories to tell, connections to make.

Once again, all 31 of the graduating students were selected by the a-n Degree Shows Guide team following an open call. They are drawn from art schools across the whole of the UK, including Northern Ireland.

Of these, 12 students have been interviewed by a-n writers in order to gain a greater insight into their process and interests. The resulting features and Q&As reveal a variety of thoughtful, experimental and innovative approaches.

New for this year, our Next Steps section on life after graduation has been given over entirely to six 2023 graduates who were featured in last year’s guide, including cover artist Anita Furlong. Their varied experiences over the last year are both insightful and, we hope, useful for anyone embarking on the next stage of their artist journey.

Of course while it’s important that this year’s graduates plan for the future, this guide is primarily focused on the degree show, and the buzz and excitement of this special moment.

Welcome, then, to this celebration of a different sort of AI –a unique kind of messy, unpredictable, always evolving artistic inquiry.

Wing-Sie Chan, a-n Head of Programmes, May 2024


Editor: Chris Sharratt

Editorial contributors: Jack Hutchinson and Ellen Wilkinson

Advertising: Jessica Murphy

Marketing: Jessica Roper

Design: Founded.Design

© writers, artists and a-n The Artists Information Company 2024

ISBN: 978-1-907529-36-8

Published by a-n The Artists Information Company Registered in England, Company No. 1626331

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a-n.co.uk/degree-shows Degree Shows Guide/2024 New Art For Now Telling Stories, Making Connections
Cover: Varshga Premarasa, Sheba 60x80cm, oil and acrylic on canvas board, 2023.
10 In Person & Online: gsa.ac.uk/degreeshow24

Art with views

Features, Q&As and profiles highlighting work by 31 graduating students from art schools across the UK, all selected by open call

Lula Braimbridge, Comfortably uncomfortable, painted plywood and body, 2023.


Parental guidance

Varshga Premarasa’s paintings reference film to explore family stories that bear witness to her Sri Lankan heritage. By JAMIE LIMOND

A boy wearing an oversized cat’s head raises a toy hammer. A dotted trajectory line connects the hammer to its intended target: a large, penitent rodent standing on a box. The painting, Old Days (2023), represents a conflation of Middlesex University student Varshga Premarasa’s twin preoccupations: film and memory.

“I was born in London and my parents moved here from Sri Lanka in the late ‘90s,” she tells me over Zoom. “I only went there once when I was three, so it’s basically like I haven’t been at all. The only way I know my culture is fully through my parents’ stories, which I’ve ended up exploring through painting. But what first really drove me toward narrative painting was an interest in psychological thrillers and plot twists, where there’s this big build up to the unexpected. I wanted to recreate that in my own work, by having these fun whimsical visuals but with this darker narrative behind them.”

Old Days specifically references the famous hallway hammer-fight in Park Chan-Wook’s 2003 film Oldboy,

but it also depicts something that happened to her dad. “There aren’t really any photos of him as a child so it’s a reimagining of this story of him going into the prayer room and there was a rat or a mouse, I’m not sure which. He went to kill it but he remembers the mouse praying or begging him not to. I just thought it was such a weird story. It obviously affected him enough to tell me about it. But I’m not sure why I’d pick a movie like Oldboy for a story about my dad!”

Behind the paintings there’s often a narrative of loss and separation. “The Lion’s Memories (2024) is about my maternal grandfather who was run over by a tractor. It’s an image that has almost a cinematic feel to it. My mum’s other siblings were at the funeral but she wasn’t able to be there. That’s a kind of trauma that my mum hasn’t really expressed or doesn’t know how to express. Another painting, Little Golden Memories (2024) is about my dad flying to Sri Lanka to see his mum after seven years, but finding out she had died while he was on the flight. I thought that was like something that would happen in a film. There was this interesting connection of him not knowing his mum had died and her not knowing her youngest son was coming to visit her.”

It's something that comes through in the dreamy, interstitial quality of the painting, which has something of the sleepwalking feel of Henri Matisse’s The Conversation (1908-1912): a sense of mother and son

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existing for the moment outside of time. But I wonder how explicit these stories will be for the audience when it comes to the degree show? “It’s something I’m still trying to figure out. I’ve had suggestions of maybe having a voice recording of someone narrating the stories, but I’m trying to find a balance between letting the viewers view them versus me imposing myself onto them. There’s a lot of hidden symbolism in the paintings, things written in Tamil or Morse code; the frog that’s in a lot of them has become a kind of signature even if I don’t really know what it means. But are these things really effective if I have to explain them?”

Premarasa expects the collaboration with her parents to continue and perhaps deepen after the degree show.

“Now my dad’s become excited at certain memories becoming paintings. He said, ‘I’ll even draw something out for you if you want,’ and I was like, that’s something! It’s always been a collaboration with my parents but it might become an actual physical collaboration. On the other hand, I also use AI in generating the compositions, which adds another layer of fragmentation. So at the same time as I’m preserving their memories, in a way I’m losing the originals through all these interpretations.”

I wonder what her parents think of them? “To be honest, I often don’t really tell them I’m making the paintings, then I do a sort of reveal. There’s a moment of, ‘Oh, you chose that story…’! It’s funny because I re-tell their

“There have been times where I’ve remembered their stories incorrectly, but I think that’s a really interesting thing to capture, the fragility of memory.”

stories back to them and there have been times where I’ve remembered them incorrectly, but I think that’s a really interesting thing to capture, the fragility of memory. It’s a way of me processing my parents’ experiences but also preserving them: preserving this estranged homeland.”

Degree show: 6-13 June (PV 6), Middlesex University, Grove building, 79 The Burroughs, London NW4 4AX. mdx.ac.uk/about-us/events/degree-show-2024

Varshga Premarasa, Little Golden Memories, 80x60cm, oil and acrylic on canvas, 2024.
Varshga Premarasa, The Lion’s Memories, 80x60cm, oil and acrylic on canvas, 2024.
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Too much pressure

Through performance and sculpture, Lewis Cavinue confronts our complex everyday relationship with information. By JESSICA

Lewis Cavinue thinks through performance. He is attentive to the absurd encounters that make up everyday life and uses performance to highlight the sociable connection and humour in often overlooked situations. His degree show playfully explores the complicated predicaments we come up against while attempting to navigate life in an era of mass information.

What will people see when they visit your degree show?

I’m casting myself section by section, to make life-size bodies stuffed with newsprint, recycled materials, insulation, bubble wrap, things like that. The bodies are going to be arranged in the space in different positions and dressed in generic clothing. Books of different colours and bindings will be placed where their heads would be. The texts relate to my perplexities about the world, usually ideas of class, society and love; these push and pull elements within the world. Then I’m going to insert myself as a performer and mimic the sculptures. People will see these life-size bodies standing very statically and then all of a sudden one of the sculptures starts moving. There’s an element of surprise there? Exactly. That’s something I really love to do in performance – have something that you’re not going to expect. I do believe the bodies are multiple versions of me in a certain sense, so there are six versions of me performing but only one real me. It will be a long duration, one to three hours. I’ll be blending in with the sculptures, and then I’ll begin an act I’ve done before where I lay in a library and stacked books upon my head. Is covering the head with a book a symbolic gesture?

It’s about the weight and pressure knowledge holds, especially in our socio-political landscape right now. There’s so much knowledge being thrown at us, so many opinions and so many choices to make. I’m questioning whether we learn from the book or from the world around us. People can get quite blinded. The books are covering the heads as a kind of shelter, they’ve only got one thing on their mind if there’s only one book. Is there a connection between excess knowledge and paralysis of the body?

Yes, I think the mass of knowledge that’s thrown at us can be quite debilitating. It can cause you just to stop and not be able to get on with other things. I’ve experienced that myself, you try to stay involved and relevant with everything that’s going on, take a stance, be there and support, all while trying to operate: doing fourth year of uni or a full-time job.

What does thinking through performance feel like?

I think I act as a non-participant observer to an extent. I can only translate a fraction of the madness that goes on in daily life into a performance. That’s where I get my substance and satisfaction, through observing something and thinking ‘that would be great to do as a performance piece, because it’s just so baffling’. But it’s real. And it’s happening. But it doesn’t seem quite real, or as if it should be happening. When you take that out of its context and put it into the context of art, it stays rich in its connection to life but brings critical thought towards something within society. It’s still very humorous and it’s still relative to daily life.

Why is making art important to you?

My best work was made in the freedom of my childhood. I guess I’m finding a little bit of that freedom again through performance. I’m just a constant creative thinker. My practice extends out into the world when I’m standing in the ‘Reduced’ section of the supermarket. It extends in the shower in the morning when I’m singing a certain thing and I get an idea, or long car journeys when I’m looking out the window pretending I’m in some sort of movie. That conscious, creative mindset just offsets me from being able to do anything else. I don’t think any other subject would satisfy me in the way that art does.

Degree show: 25 May – 2 June (PV 24), Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design (DJCAD), 13 Perth Road, Dundee DD1 4HT. dundee.ac.uk/graduate-showcase

1 Lewis Cavinue, Reading Positions performance installation, 2024.

Touch and know

Suffolk-based artist Flynn Squirrell was first introduced to crochet in 2015 after being diagnosed with a health condition that left him temporarily bedridden. Finding a “world of possibility with a simple hook and yarn” he started to investigate the relationship between fibre arts and sculpture, leading to a desire to explore “the subjectivity of our human sensory responses”. For works such as his untitled piece using crochet cotton yarn and cement, Squirrell leaves the interpretation open to the viewer. We are invited to interact through touch, which he explains “allows viewers to explore all their senses and assumptions towards materials, processes, and textures”.

Degree show: 21-28 June (PV 20), Arts Building, University of Suffolk, 19 Neptune Quay, Ipswich IP4 1QJ. uos.ac.uk/about/events/arts-degree-show-2024

Flynn Squirrell, Untitled dimensions variable, cement and crochet cotton yarn, 2024. FLYNN SQUIRRELL, BA (HONS) FINE ART, UNIVERSITY OF SUFFOLK

Neuronal patterns

Over the course of her degree, sculptor Ella McBride has developed her wrapping and knotting techniques as the core method of making, culminating in her Unlocked series of wearable works crafted from wire and fabric. Inspired by neuronal patterns, McBride aims to “externalise the otherwise invisible interior” and how this can be replicated in 3D form. She explains: “The contextual narrative of these wearable works envisions a futuristic world where our thoughts have become visible on the exterior of our heads, transforming the headpieces into interpretable extensions of one’s inner state.”

Degree show: 17-21 June (PV 17), School of Design, Clothworkers’ Central Building, University of Leeds, Woodhouse, Leeds LS2 9JT. schoolofdesignleeds.com/ds24/show

1 Ella McBride, Unlocked, 25x50cm, sculpture, 2023.

Ruby Read, BA (Hons) Fine Art, Camberwell College of Arts, UAL

Ruby Read’s self-portraits with playful hair, bright exaggerated colours and impasto paint, mark the start of her journey delving into the depths of identity through theatrical personas. Degree show: 8-15 June (PV 10), Camberwell College of Arts, 45-65 Peckham Road, London SE5 8UF. arts.ac.uk/colleges/camberwell-collegeof-arts/whats-on/show

chema rodriguez alcantara, BA (Hons) Fine Art

Photography, Glasgow School of Art

Working across film, photography and sculpture, chema rodriguez alcantara is interested in demystifying the studio as a place of working, inspiration and making.

Degree show: 31 May – 9 June, Glasgow School of Art, Stow College Building, 43 Shamrock Street, Glasgow G4 9LD. gsashowcase.net

Ruby Read, Pippi, 30x40cm, oil on board, 2023.
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1 chema rodriguez alcantara, snow millholm (mockup) 50x70cm, mild steel, glossy photo paper, 2023.


Trapped in deep time

A journey along the Chilean coast influenced Cleo Stoutzker’s paintings, which meditate on geological deep time and human experience.

As Cleo Stoutzker travelled south to north along the Pacific coast of Chile in 2023 she was “confronted with geological landscapes”. From the vast southern Atacama desert region along high, dry plateaus with few plants growing and only “a graveyard of rocks spiralling out before me”, the geology was one the artist had never before encountered.

“I was trying to find a way to comprehend this landscape, its age, and how it had taken shape,” she

explains. “I didn’t know how to access it. It felt like a place that would never change because rocks don’t have annual cycles of change. That was a very confronting thought, and I found that in many ways I failed to understand what I was looking at. The timescale of that landscape challenged my concept of time and nature.”

Returning to Edinburgh, Stoutzker began to paint people as rocks; figures sitting below the surface of the earth.

“Painting is my process of understanding and also generating questions,” she says. The notion of geological deep time manifests most directly in Stoutzker’s work through the muted, elemental tones, colours she feels “would have been there in a deep past or will be in a distant future; I can’t imagine greens or blue.”

The paintings appear as if through a dusty haze. Their minimal painting style includes areas of bare linen and dense, black space. Landscapes are suggested, broken down to fundamentals – a line to indicate a horizon or the

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surface of the earth, “a single line implying vast distances in vast space” as Stoutzker puts it. Lone figures –contorted or fragmented – are rendered in earthy, sepia hues. Their eyes are usually open, yet they appear to be somewhere between wakefulness and sleep.

“I’m interested in a kind of consciousness that predates our own and will continue after us,” Stoutzker explains. “The figures are aware but they’re immobile. They may be inanimate but are still part of nature and life, in the way of a rock. That idea challenges an anthropocentric understanding of being and consciousness.”

Stoutzker sometimes draws from life, but more often the figures are based on photographs, most recently of her friend Alice, although the artist stresses that her paintings are not portraits. “Photographs already have a degree of abstraction that gives me an anchor to abstract further. They create flatter, more graphic images and harsher outlines than drawing from life. My line is more confident and solid when I work from photos.”

The effect is collage-like, with limbs, a breast, an ear and other body parts appearing cut out and stuck down, or as if a cross-section has sliced through the earth and its subterranean inhabitants.

Alongside conversations with geologists at University of Edinburgh, this body of work was informed by land artists including Nancy Holt and Robert Smithson. “My paintings are an attempt to fix something out of a human duration of time, which I think is what Holt and Smithson were doing in the Utah Desert in the 1970s. And is perhaps what a photograph does too,” Stoutzker suggests.

For her degree show, she will present six or seven paintings in a box-like corner space. “The paintings will be facing each other. They need to be in dialogue because this work is a continuous body and there’s a visual narrative and interplay of form across the paintings. There’s a process of aesthetic questions being raised and then answered across them. It will be a small,

“I’m interested in a kind of consciousness that predates our own and will continue after us.”

intimate space, so you’ll be privy to this internal world of thought and logic.”

Some people might find Stoutzker’s paintings claustrophobic, with their depictions of isolated people who appear to be trapped and unable to move. “The figures are stuck there,” she says. “In Rock Formation, she can’t move. But it’s about the calmness and acceptance of just sitting there, as inert structures or agents of that inertia.”

Stoutzker’s work therefore finds reassurance in deep time and alternate kinds of existence. It asks, what if we stopped? What if we slowed down? “In Rock Formation the figure is in a state of inertia. But Magma and Untitled depict growth and states of change,” Stoutzker says. “In The Book of Disquiet, writer Fernando Pessoa describes how ‘social life imposes on continuous time a kind of frontier around the abstract’. This expressed what I was thinking so incredibly. I think that in order to form our connections with people and things around us, we do live in a constant abstraction of larger realities.”

Degree show: 31 May – 9 June, Edinburgh College of Art campus, 74 Lauriston Place, Edinburgh EH3 9DF. eca.ed.ac.uk

1 Cleo Stoutzker, Untitled II, 50x50cm, oil and acrylic paint on linen, 2023. 2 Cleo Stoutzker, Magma I, 127x170 cm, ink, acrylic and oil paint on canvas, 2024. 3 Cleo Stoutzker, Rock Formation, 100x120cm, oil and acrylic on linen, 2023.
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Body of work

Interdisciplinary artist Lula Braimbridge makes sculptural, performative works that express ideas of radical care and kinship. By JOANNA

Lula Braimbridge is an interdisciplinary artist working in sculpture, performance, photography and installation. She describes her approach to making as an affectionate “cyclical exchange of care”, incorporating the artist’s care for her materials, the materials’ care for the artist, and the artist as a carer for the community, through acts of radical kinship.

You work across many different mediums and practices. Where do you begin with your ideas? I start with an experience. It might be from a moment with a person, or going for a walk, and I get excited by a sensation or feeling within that experience and then create something in response. Colour is really important in my work and I use it to express my experience or encourage a particular emotional response in the audience. I’m sensorysensitive and often feel overwhelmed by the loudness of the world. I want to roll up in a ball and hide, to have a moment of darkness and quiet where everything pauses. So I create objects that act as protection from this intensity – a hiding and holding of the body that’s integrated with the idea of radical care and kinship.

I can see this in Awkward expansion, which hints at a kind of guardian angel or Joan of Arc figure? Yes, the sculpture’s almost like a shield. Metal is harsh and cold, but I wanted to make it feel soft and caring. The sculpture holds me, allowing me to self-soothe. To perform I go inside it, onto my knees and rock myself.

But at the same time the sculpture is big, awkward to move in and sometimes uncomfortable to be in.

There’s a similar sense of this in Comfortably uncomfortable (pictured, page 11). This photograph feels surreal and constructed, like a collage. Could you tell me more about how you made it?

The photographs are a moment in the performance, captured and stilled. In Comfortably uncomfortable a flat red sheet shields and holds the body in place. I wanted to play with the idea of the manipulation and editing of the body in real life that we have in our technologyobsessed world. The image looks unreal, like it’s been Photoshopped, but it’s completely unedited. I was also interested in ‘othering’ the body, so you’re confused about what is happening.

Could you tell me more about what affectionate making or tenderness mean, in relation to your materials?

I’ve been working a lot with felting, which is a really intimate, laborious experience. I’m almost dancing with the fibres to create the material; we absorb each other’s energies. In a sense that’s the relationship of care between us that I then share with the audience. I work with organic wool, mostly straight from the sheep, and with wool thrown away by farms because it wasn’t deemed good enough. I’m also creating sandbag sculptures, collecting sand from discarded sandbags in the city. I enjoy sourcing materials which aren’t being cared for, finding space to take care of them.

Your relationship with the objects you make feels quite intimate and personal?

The sculptures have become ‘organisms’ or beings for me, because they feel part of something bigger. They also feel like my friends or family. Their creation isn’t always joyous, which for me reflects the complexities of care. I’d like to do workshops outside of the gallery where I bring people together to create, slow down and have conversations.

So really thinking about creating an interactive space for others in your work?

Yes, I want to create an installation that’s a holding space, a stilling space, a breathing space. Johanna Hedva says the most anti-capitalist protest – especially for women and queer communities – is to care for one another and for yourself, in all your vulnerabilities and precarities. I’m creating large felted pieces that hold or encompass the body, like cocoons. I want to create access for different bodies and abilities, and I’d like to involve sound too: the sculptures talking to the audience, encouraging different interactions or experiences within the space. I like the idea of inviting people into an intimate space, too – where they can hug and hold each other, and that be a part of it.

Degree show: 15-22 June (PV 14), Manchester School of Art, Manchester Metropolitan University, All Saints Campus, Oxford Road, Manchester M15 6BR. art.mmu.ac.uk/degreeshow/

Lula Braimbridge, Hiding and Holding, works in progress, models
Martha Barr and the artist, 2024. Photo: Melody Peacock


Dystopian miniatures

In works such as Rusted Shack 1, Ruined Outpost and Vandalised Crane Car, Benjamin Tahsin utilises modelmaking techniques to create miniature worlds from recycled and discarded items. Forging intricate scenes that hint at dystopian post-apocalyptic scenarios, he aims for viewers to “feel shrunken into the places I create”. Tahsin has ambitions to create more comprehensive scenes exploring how maps and human lives change over time, but it is the strange ambiguity of his current series, where objects seem to exist in a kind of void, trapped between past, present and future, that really hits home.

Degree show: 8-14 June (PV 8), Kingston School of Art, Knights Park, Grange Road, Kingston upon Thames KT1 2QJ.


1 Benjamin Tahsin, Rusted Shack 1 10x8x5cm, cardboard and acrylic paint, 2023.


Creating connections

Applied Art student Darina Zhecheva aims to express intense emotions and a deep respect for nature through her practice. In works such as Bonds That Tie, which is constructed from copper and designed to be worn by two people at the same time, the artist aims to “inspire people to look within themselves, encouraging introspection and connection to their own emotional narratives”. Zhecheva sees each work of art sculpted by her hands as a reflection of her inner world, which serves to “visually reflect the experiences and complexity of my personal growth”.

Degree show: 28 May – 10 June (PV 24 May), Unit D13, Eagles Meadow, Wrexham LL13 8DG. wrexham.ac.uk

DARINA ZHECHEVA, BA (HONS) APPLIED WREXHAM UNIVERSITY 1 Darina Zhecheva, Bonds That Tie 17x9cm, copper, 2024.

Lisa Sopekan, BA (Hons) Fine Art, Teesside University

With a practice that is process driven, Lisa Sopekan explores the relationship between different mediums, predominately painting, sculpture and textiles.

Degree show: 13-17 May (PV 14), Teesside University, Waterhouse Building, Middlesbrough TS1 3BX. eventbrite.co.uk/e/emerging-talentdegree-showcase


Chloe Maybury, BA (Hons) Fine Art, Leeds Arts University

Multidisciplinary artist Chloe Maybury’s work explores healing, metamorphosis, and her personal experiences of synaesthesia –seeing sounds as moving lines and colours.

Degree show: 17-22 June (PV 21), Leeds Arts University, Blenheim Walk, Leeds LS2 9AQ. leeds-art.ac.uk/about-us/key-dates


Lisa Sopekan, Mental Mass (detail), 140x150x20cm, hessian, felt, wool, cotton material, thread and wire, 2024.
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Chloe Maybury, Spellground, video still, performance, 2023.

Familial faces

Shannon Ward uses family photographs as the source material for paintings infused with love and respect.

The oils on canvas of Telford-based Shannon Ward radiate happiness and tenderness, celebrating Black families and the intimate connections held within. Inspired by the writing of Black feminist theorist Tina Campt, Ward uses photographs as reference points and is interested in “paying homage” to the moment they capture.

Who are the subjects of your paintings?

New Baby (2024) shows me and my dad. When I saw that photograph within an album I really connected to it and started feeling a bit emotional – it’s such an intimate, loving, caring image and I’m very close with my dad. We keep this love in a photograph (2023) shows me and my brother – we shared a lovely sibling relationship. Friends and family are the subject of my last year at art school – those who are closest to me.

What will you present in your degree show? I’ll have four paintings, including New Baby and We keep this love in a photograph, which will be staggered on the wall, almost like a display of photographs above a staircase in a family home. The overall title is My Nearest and Dearest.


Why is photography important to you?

Photographs are crucial in capturing moments and I use them as reference points. Tina Campt’s book Listening to Images (2017) was recommended to me by a tutor. Photos speak, make you feel and they can take you back to another sense, such as smell.

Why painting?

My original interest was drawing’s ability to capture a person. I stuck to painting at college because I liked creating a palette and being able to capture beauty and movement. I have to be very confident I want to recreate a photograph in a painting, paying homage to that moment. I want to feel emotionally connected to the photograph and the person in it because painting is a long process. I stretch and prime canvas, draw with pencil and underpaint in yellow ochre, before blocking out highlights and the figure on top.

What are your intentions around representation?

One reason I paint people of colour is because growing up in Telford, a predominantly white area about 30 minutes from Wolverhampton, I hadn’t felt exposed to much Black art. I really struggled to see representation. So, I wanted to create work that represents me and other people, to be able to think ‘I can see myself in that’. When I walk into a gallery and I see Black art, I get very excited because it’s representation. Last year I made work about Black female empowerment – Black Beauty (2023) is a self portrait.

Why Wolverhampton?

In Year 10 my art teacher told me about the national


1 Shannon Ward, We keep this love in a photograph 4x3ft, oil on canvas, 2023. 2 Shannon Ward, Black Beauty 6x3ft, oil on canvas, 2023. Shannon Ward, New Baby 5.5x3.8ft, oil on canvas, 2024.

Saturday art club based in Wolverhampton which I did for nine months. I learnt so much about painting and drawing but also printmaking, photography, textiles and ceramics. I realised there is so much to art. I wasn’t sure if I was going to go into higher education but that experience really made me set my heart on Wolverhampton. How do you think your work has developed during art school?

Comparing We keep this love in a photograph to New Baby I can see a massive improvement in technique, in the hands and the blending of the oils. It’s really nice to see. When I was working on New Baby, I had detailed conversations with tutors about shadows and the directions of my brush marks. Sometimes my paintings have a plain background, with a lighter halo outline so the figures stand out. The halo was thick in one area and

“I want to feel emotionally connected to the photograph and the person in it because painting is a long process.”

it was hard to distinguish where the light was coming from. These conversations really helped me, as well as looking at lighting in paintings by Rembrandt. When I took a step back, I could see my finished painting looks more sophisticated and it tells the story I want to tell.

What’s next for you?

I’m thinking about materials and resources that will allow me to continue making. I’m looking at residencies and studios because I need my own space to create. I work part-time so will continue to do that for consistent income. I am part of an exhibition in Brixton to celebrate International Women’s Day and I hope to be able to get into other exhibitions. I’m aware I need to get my foot in the door and network; I’m determined to keep going and to keep being inspired.

Degree show: 7-23 June (PV 7), Wolvehampton School of Art, George Wallis Building, Molineux Street, Wolverhampton WV1 1DT. wlv.ac.uk/wolverhampton-school-of-art

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Computational fibres

Tom Hardwick’s practice addresses the ‘feminised labour of computation before the electronic computer, the dematerialisation of computational labour in the Information Age, and the aesthetics of data’. In a unique twist, he references computational systems using traditional fibre arts, constructing pieces such as Age Rings that reveal the extensive mental and physical activity that forms them. Hardwick explains: “My work questions the social division of labour and the separation between manual and intellectual activity, with the aim of reclaiming data-processing as an inherently physical and aesthetic endeavour.”

Degree show: 30 May – 7 June, York St John University, Phoenix Court, York YO31 7EX. ysjuart.wixsite.com/ysjuart

1 Tom Hardwick, Age Rings, 50x50cm in this arrangement, 2023.

A liberating journey

Zimbabwean-British interdisciplinary artist Sondliwe Pamisa examines the reality of diasporic living. By

Drawing upon literary, cinematic and musical influences, Zimbabwean-British artist Sondliwe Pamisa creates artworks that examine the complexities of diasporic living and identity. Through painting, photography, poetry, print making and music, Pamisa creates what he describes as “freeform narratives that capture the expansiveness of the Afropolitan experience”.

Pamisa moved to the UK in 2000 as a child, settling with his family in Leeds. A career in engineering was his original plan, but the desire to pursue a creative path eventually won the day, and after two years at Leeds Arts University he moved to London in 2020 to study Fine Art: Painting at Camberwell College of Arts. He explains: “I’ve always learned about the arts from just seeing the world, and I’d considered maybe not going down a traditional institution route. But I really wanted to learn about the craft and history of art, and become immersed in the current art scene.”

Pamisa says that the experience of leaving Zimbabwe at a time of political and economic collapse underpins much of his work. “My origins are in everything I do. A major part of that is being in the diaspora and being first generation. The history of Zimbabwe is so recent. You come into this brand-new country and the country doesn’t actually know what to do with you. It’s just what happens in a huge, brutal system.”

Pamisa remembers his childhood home as a place of shelter that retained the energy and traditions of Zimbabwe. “You kind of understand that there’s a life back home that is still happening no matter where you are, and then this idea of ‘home’ becomes this complex thing to explore. You are constantly asking: ‘Well, are we not home?’”

Two years ago Pamisa finally returned to Zimbabwe for the first time. “It was wild. The highlight was spending time with my grandparents. We speak all the time but it was so different seeing them face to face.” When he showed them his artwork they enjoyed it, which gave him encouragement – describing himself as a natural introvert who is not overly comfortable showing his art in public, their response meant a lot. “My art was always my space to really understand the world. It was important for them

“My origins are in everything I do. A major part of that is being in the Zimbabwean diaspora and being first generation.”

to understand it, because it is my way of speaking. They thought I was going to study engineering, so I guess you could say I’m breaking all the rules of being an immigrant! But my family is very supportive.”

Pamisa’s work across various mediums, and the idea of not being tied to one creative outlet, fits with the narrative of liberation he explores. “For me, when we think about liberation it suggests something to be liberated from. I’ve never really felt like I fit in with all the rules that come with being a ‘painter’. I prefer to have different voices and different perspectives.”

In works such as the acrylic on canvas painting of sacrifices made, Pamisa addresses the historic narratives of life in the global, post-colonial world. When dealing with such stories, Pamisa is considering the reasons why people have to come to a new country in the first place. “I grew up in Leeds in a community of migrants, but why are we all here? We are existing in a place that says we’re not where we’re meant to be, and we’re dealing with this very brutal system of, at times, violence and racism. But then you consider, we’re here because we have no choice – our country was collapsing.”

Pamisa says his work has helped resolve an internal battle around whether or not he is British. “It’s informed by the globalised world in which we are living. Experiencing all of these cultures gives you an understanding of the world as a large place – that’s the advantage in some aspects of being part of a diaspora.”

Degree show: 8-15 June (PV 10). Camberwell College of Arts, 45-65 Peckham Road, London SE5 8UF. arts.ac.uk/colleges/camberwell-college-of-arts/ whats-on/show

Sondliwe Pamisa, skin tears, the hardest
, 140x120cm, acrylic, pastel, chalk, ink and wire on canvas and wood, 2024.

Our place in nature

Matt Lewis, BA (Hons) Photography, The Open College of the Arts (accredited by The Open University)

Open College of the Arts student Matt Lewis’ photographic series

A Jagged Circle features human forms merging with the natural landscape, cleverly intertwined with surfaces such as rock faces, water pools and tree bark. The resulting black and white photographs act as an exploration of the human condition when stripped away from social contexts, contemplating our place within nature and our relationship to the natural world. “I frequently use myself in the images,” explains Lewis, “either like a prop or to create a performative narrative. There is an undercurrent of connections between the self and others, human or otherwise, and to the past and future.”

Degree show: 13-15, 19-22 June, Turf Projects, Whitgift Centre, 46-47 Trinity Court, Croydon CR0 1UQ. mattelewispa.co.uk

1 Matt Lewis, A Jagged Circle 84x56cm, black and white photograph, 2023.

Yin Wang, BA (Hons) Fine Art, Art Academy London

Figurative and portrait artist Yin Wang’s work is an exploration of separation and memories, and is connected to her experience as a member of the Chinese diaspora.

Degree show: 21-23 June (PV 20), Art Academy London, Mermaid Court, 165A Borough High Street, London SE1 1HR. artacademy.ac.uk/academic/graduateshow-2024


Emily Josephine H, BA (Hons) Fine Art, University of Sunderland

Emily Josephine H’s surreal paintings are inspired by candid photos of her friends and describe the feeling of not knowing what is real and wondering if anything truly exists.

Degree show: 8-14 June (PV 7), University of Sunderland, Priestman Building SR1 3PZ. sunderland.ac.uk/study/art-design/ degree-shows-student-work/


Emily Josephine H, Forgotten Summers 60x80cm, oil on wood panel, 2023.
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Yin Wang, Seeing off without seeing I, 24.5x55cm, ink on rice paper and canvas, 2023.

Making a scene

For ‘slow shooter’ Alice Triff, photography is all about preparation, deliberation and experimentation. By KITTY BEW

Alice Triff creates photographs, not snapshots. She visualises the scene beforehand, contemplating – and sometimes drawing – the possibilities long before she picks up the camera. She looks through the viewfinder at one prospect, and then another (and another) before the shutter button is pressed and the image is made. A “slow shooter” is how she defines herself. It is clear that her practice is suffused with a sense of thoughtful deliberation that extends from her initial research of a subject, to the darkroom. While studying BA Photography at the University of Brighton she has been encouraged to experiment and explore. Looking back, she explains that “a lot has changed in my understanding of photography”.

The project Enclosure reflects on the issue of public access to the English countryside. Photographs of dense forestry are made up of the deep greens and browns of country woodland, punctuated by shafts of light between timber and thicket. This is the Cornbury Estate, Oxfordshire, close to where Triff grew up. It is also private land owned by Baron Rotherwick and, like 92% of English countryside, is not accessible to the general public. In taking these photographs Triff commits trespass. She describes it as “an act of defiance”, her transgression a challenge to the inaccessibility of the luscious nature that surrounds her hometown.

The absurdity of these borders are echoed in an agreement that once a year on Palm Sunday members of the local community are authorised to visit this parcel of land, an experience that for Triff echoed the way in which “landscape has been prescribed to us”. She adds: “I was just overwhelmed by how biodiverse this woodland was. It felt so different to the places you can usually go, which is just paths around mono-cropped fields. I felt real disappointment that this space was not accessible.”

The hostility of this deprival is expressed through the defacement of the photographs with barbed wire, similar to that used in rural fencing. They emerge punctured and torn, crumpled to the point where we are denied a full view of the image and are made to consider our own curtailed interactions with England’s green and pleasant land. Manipulating the prints with wire serves to extend the photograph into sculptural form. Triff notes artists such as Letha Wilson and Stephen Gill as inspiration, both of whom have built their practice on an ethos of experimentation with form and material. That she began studying fine art before switching to photography demonstrates an interest in other art forms, and a reluctance to confine her practice.

Manipulating the prints with barbed wire extends the photograph into sculptural form.

While Enclosure highlights Triff’s interest in social issues, her latest project There Is No Arriving diverges from this somewhat. “It comes from a much more uncertain concept,” she says. It’s clear that it is guided more by instinct than principle. Photographs of still life set-ups and sitters utilise an indoor lighting kit and are delicately staged for the camera. Imagery is thoughtfully composed, and keenly cropped. They are also uncanny. In one print a heap of red and green apples with yellowing bite marks tumble across a bathroom floor. In another a young woman’s bare shoulder is decorated with girlish stickers; little crowns, hearts and fairies tucked tenderly beneath a pink bra strap. It is imbued with a sense of nostalgia, suggestive of childhood bedrooms and after-school crafts. Triff reveals that her aim is to “make pictures with open-ended narratives, that are both plausible and slightly bizarre”.

At the time of us speaking, Triff continues to anxiously deliberate over which project to exhibit at her upcoming degree show. She is considerate of what photographs will look best within an exhibition space that is communal, and where wall space is limited. While There Is No Arriving represents a break from what Triff has created before, she is still working through the same contemplative practice. And her ‘slow shooter’ approach to photography evidently extends to curation.

Degree show: 1-9 June, University of Brighton, 154–155 Edward Street, Brighton BN2 0JG. brighton.ac.uk/summer-shows/index.aspx

1 Alice Triff, Enclosure, photography, 2023.



Masked performance

Using simple papier-mache techniques, Eleanor Cunningham creates garish masks, often of animals and recognisable characters. In works such as Laura Wearing The Pigeon Mask, there is a playfulness that perhaps belies a darker undercurrent, with Cunningham saying the masks are designed to be “worn by anyone brave enough to be immersed into a state of performance while wearing them, which I then photograph and use to draw and paint from”. The resulting paintings take on a much more unsettling version of the masks, which have begun to take over the participant’s body in the form of a ‘second skin’.

Degree show: 22-28 June (PV 21), City and Guilds of London Art School, 124 Kennington Park Road, London SE11 4DJ. cityandguildsartschool.ac.uk/degree-show

1 Eleanor Cunningham, Laura Wearing The Pigeon Mask, 112x44cm, papier-mache and acrylic paint, 2023. BA

An eco-feminist pilgrimage

A feminist analysis of our relationship to nature lies at the heart of Annabelle Keyes’ researchdriven practice. By ANNEKA

Bournemouth-based Annabelle Keyes is influenced by site-specific research walks within ecologically and historically important locations. Keyes’ researchinformed interdisciplinary practice pays homage to the materials, as well as to physical and spiritual experiences, found within these places.

How have sites in Dorset informed your installation A Motherland’s Shrine?

Three sites relatively near where I live, all somewhat untouched historical sites, fed into A Motherland’s Shrine Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour is where the Boy Scouts originated but is now a heritage site with protected animal species. The buildings were bombed during the second world war and you can find broken bricks along the coast. Dancing Ledge, near Swanage, is a quarry – a strange, uninhabited, altered landscape that feels really spiritual. Hengistbury Head is a very ancient, protected site which I’m focusing on for my final work as well. It’s a place with a lot of different histories including a former port, burial rituals found in archaeological investigations and structures that you can see underneath the land.

What will your final work involve?

I’m calling my research trips ‘pilgrimages’ and every week I’m walking directly from my flat to Hengistbury Head,

taking samples, video clips and notes as frameworks for research. I’m making worship-inspired altarpieces in jesmonite to hold the research and fieldwork documents. Elements will be suspended in a big sculpture made of wattle and daub, influenced by a round house that is being built at Hengistbury Head. You will enter the work over a bridge and there will be collections of materials in bottles and jars. There will be video and audio made on site and a big painting in the centre.

Tell me more about the painting.

All the paintings start with manipulated photographs I make on sites. I select a very specific area of a photo and mirror it so that it becomes a kind of transcendent, symmetrical image. The philosophy of symmetry is important to me and there is an element of symmetry in all my work. I also put found objects directly onto the paintings.

Are the objects you collect all natural or do they include human-made things?

I’m applying an eco-feminist perspective to how I look at nature, being conscious of what I take and treasuring the things I collect. I am drawn to natural materials but I also pick up interesting pieces of trash. I don’t take too much of any organic material such as shells and try not to touch things that could mess with the ecosystem. I collect driftwood, charcoal from beach fires, stones that have interesting motifs, dead grasses and other dead plants. I take very, very small amounts because these things are precious, and then I make them a big deal within the sculpture.

Can you tell me more about the ideas underpinning your work?

Hydro-feminism is another branch of eco-feminism that has inspired me and is helping me navigate my relationship to land and to intersections of systematic oppressions. Hydro-feminism allows you to see rivers and oceans as sisters and mothers in order to find solidarity. I’m understanding and communicating with nature in a different way when I’m out in the field, contrasting scientific investigations with eco-feminist ones. I’m interested in finding common ground or something in the middle of these two opposite research practices.

How has university shaped your practice?

The theory lectures have massively shaped me. I remember one specific lecture in first year that led me down a rabbit hole that I’m still going down today – on the rhizome and Deleuze and Guattari. I’m very interdisciplinary so I’ve loved being able to experiment with painting, sculpture, video and audio. I’ve only just recently got back into painting in the past year. My studies have given me choices, lots of materials to play with and an excellent studio.

Degree show: 28 June – 5 July (PV 27), Arts University Bournemouth campus, Wallisdown, Poole BH12 5HH. aub.ac.uk/latest/undergraduate-summershows-2024

Annabelle Keyes, A Motherland’s Shrine, calico, bamboo, charcoal, found objects, clay, oil on canvas, photo transfers, 2023.


Drawing on the past

Gwilym Pearce Jones takes inspiration and imagery from historical paintings to create a narrative about the present. By ISAAC NUGENT

As Pablo Picasso is supposed to have once said, ‘Good artists borrow. Great artists steal.’ Gwilym Pearce Jones, a final-year BA Fine Art Practice student at Carmarthen School of Art, shares this brazen attitude towards artistic originality. For his degree show, he is making a series of paintings that quote from well-known historical artworks, mixing the ancient with the everyday.

In one painting, the Delphic Sibyl from Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling (c.1509) sits between Leonardo di Vinci’s Madonna of the Rocks (1483-86) and a giant swinging wrecking ball. In another, the protagonist of Artemisia Gentileschi’s dramatic painting Susannah and the Elders (1610) floats above a cluster of houses. These figures from historical artworks jostle for attention with

blocks of bright colour, painted in rosy pink, daffodil yellow or sky blue, which would not have appeared in the original compositions. “It should make sense because all the pieces of a narrative are there,” explains Pearce Jones, “but it doesn’t come together immediately. I want to hold the viewer in this in-between state.”

Through placing figures from historical artworks in new contexts, Pearce Jones hopes to make them relevant to

1 Gwilym Pearce Jones, Judge, 61x122cm, acrylic and coloured pencil on paper and board, 2024.
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“I’m bridging the gap between all those magnificent stories back then and the magnificent stories happening right now.”

us today. “It is like sampling,” he explains, “I’m bridging the gap between all those magnificent stories back then and the magnificent stories happening right now.” Many of the old master paintings Pearce Jones quotes from depict religious subject matter, inspired by stories in the Bible. Though the artist is not himself a Christian, he admits that he finds Christian art beautiful. “The imagery is something that I just can’t get out of my head. It’s great narrative and I’m a sucker for narrative.”

Pearce Jones has enjoyed being a student. After sixthform, he completed his foundation year at Carmarthen during lockdown. “Everybody else was ready to pack up and head to London or even further,” he explains. “But I was just not in the right headspace to move on. I already knew the facilities and most of the tutors, so I thought it was the perfect place for me to stay. We have small groups, so we get a lot of time with the tutors.”

Though he was always a figurative artist, Pearce Jones didn’t start painting until the second half of his second year. “I was so dead set against it…paintings are such scary things. Drawing was the unsung hero, so I really wanted to push that.” Even after making the transition, he wanted to approach painting in a similar way to drawing. Many of the figures in Pearce Jones’ paintings are rendered in a sketchy improvisational way that is closer to drawing. The final composition emerges organically, with the artist covering up parts of the painting he doesn’t like with newsprint to rework them. “The floor of my studio space is covered with all sorts of different bits of paper,” he explains, “I play with them, trace them, or completely disregard them. It creates depth with material. I find paintings and then I lose them again. It’s a battle until the last second.”

Pearce Jones is beginning to think about his degree show, which opens in May. “The pieces are quite long, so I want to display them as a frieze. I’ll need a lot of wall space, horizontally at least.” After the show, he plans to apply for a one-year graduate residency at Carmarthen School of Art. This will provide him with another year’s access to tutors and facilities. He also hopes to set up an artists’ collective with some of the other students graduating from the BA programme. They intend to open a studio complex and gallery, perhaps with a bar or café attached. “There are a few buildings available just outside Carmarthen, so that should be good, at least to get us started.”

Where will Pearce Jones take his work next? Reflecting on his obsession with fantasy role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons and life-simulation video game The Sims, he says that he wants to push the more contemporary aspects of his work. “I’m just going to go deeper into the spiral,” he says, “it’s fun creating imaginary universes on board.”

Degree show: 25 May – 6 June (PV 24), Carmarthen School of Art, Jobs Well Road, Carmarthen SA31 3HY. colegsirgar.ac.uk/index.php/en/study/ carmarthen-school-of-art

Gwilym Pearce Jones, Untitled, 61x122cm, acrylic and coloured pencil on paper and board, 2024. Gwilym Pearce Jones, MYNAMEISSANFRANCISCO, 61x122cm, acrylic and coloured pencil on paper and board, 2024.
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Perceptions of beauty

A fluid relationship to gender, beauty and ugliness is integral to Samäel Davison’s watercolour-based artworks. By LAURA

Samäel Davison’s practice cuts across a range of different interests: Manga’s obsession with cuteness, 1970s music, a bit of psychedelia, and studying John Singer Sargent to get that watercolour technique just right. Alongside this, Davison is using art as a way to explore their own and society’s perceptions of gender, beauty, and ugliness.

What are you working on for the degree show?

I can change my mind a lot and I want to convey this in the final piece. Sometimes I want to paint, sometimes I want to draw. If I’m working on a big project, I always end up getting bored halfway through. To challenge myself I’m working on a large painting that’s about three by two metres. There will be characters and animals, and a yellow, orange, purple, and blue colour scheme. The whole point is that it looks busy and your eyes will fall in a bunch of different directions.

What kind of ideas have you been exploring in your work?

I’m a trans man and I’m currently going through the transition process. I have been exploring my relationship to gender and how I view gender differently. Gender is not a very concrete thing to me. In one image I’ve used mushrooms, because they are a type of fungi and are poisonous. I brought this into the work because I was thinking about how trans people are perceived, and how people look at me. With my autism and other things, I sometimes feel more like a creature or a rotten flower. I like things that other people find ugly; the angler fish is my favourite fish and it’s hideous! I think a lot about what society considers beautiful and what I consider beautiful. These ideas about beauty can also be applied to differences in how society perceives gender.

When I transition, I want to look like a feminine man. I could be feminine just by being a woman, but I don’t want that. I want to be a man. It’s complicated to explain, which is why I do a lot of art to explain it. A lot of the characters I draw are men. It feels like I’m projecting the energy that I want and the way I want to be perceived onto my drawings.

Why did you choose to study at the University of Sunderland?

For one, I like living next to the sea. I used to live in France and would come to the North East to visit my grandparents. Sunderland is like Newcastle, but small enough not to be overwhelming. I wanted to see what the art scene was like in Sunderland, and it seemed like they had a good art programme. It’s also a friendly environment. If I find it hard to work, I can walk around the studio and get inspired.

“I like things that other people find ugly; the angler fish is my favourite fish and it’s hideous!”

Has the relationship to your studio space been particularly important?

In my first year I was overwhelmed because I was trying to do too many things at once. I wasn’t making my studio space my own. I saw others had decorated their spaces and it inspired me. Now I have pictures on the walls, and I have a blanket and pillow. It feels like an extension of my house.

What would you like to do after your studies? I like working with kids, the elderly and people, like me, who have disabilities or health issues. I’ve always wanted to work with people who have a disability. Because I have an understanding of disability, I want to use that to make their lives easier.

Any advice for people starting their degree? Don’t overthink what your subject is going to be! It’s OK if it doesn’t make sense, it will eventually come together. For artists that have autism or ADHD, don’t force yourself to work under other people’s rules. Just figure out what works for you.

Degree show: 8-14 June (PV 7), University of Sunderland, Priestman Building SR1 3PZ. sunderland.ac.uk/study/art-design/degree-showsstudent-work

1 Samaël Davison, The Song of Color, 180x280cm, watercolor on canvas, 2024.

Mary Whitehouse, FdA Textiles Practice, Bradford College

Textile artist Mary Whitehouse’s current work is a response to the UK government’s treatment of those seeking asylum in this country.

Degree show: 14-28 June, The Dye House Gallery, Lister Building, Bradford College, Great Horton Road, Bradford BD7 1AY. bradfordcollege.ac.uk

1 Mary Whitehouse, Lost At Sea, 15x12cm, textile, 2024.

Ellie Pelan, BA (Hons) Fine Art Painting, Belfast School of Art, Ulster University

Ellie Pelan’s paintings address concepts of godhood and divinity, such as in The Severed Hand, a representation of Eve in which “the idea of losing one’s hand coincides with the idea of not being quite worthy and spiritually complete”.

Degree show: 8-22 June (PV 7), Belfast School of Art, York Street, Belfast BT15 1ED. ulster.ac.uk/bsoa/175-programme


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Ellie Pelan, The Severed Hand, 56x83cm, oil and acrylic on canvas, 2023.

Collaborative communication

Luca and Katrina Dayanc have collaborated since foundation, but it has been in the final two years of their degree course that this working together “has become more considered and intentional”. Through performance and sculpture the pair explore communication, neurodiversity, subjectivity and origins/ ownerships. They explain: “Our practice considers different dynamics and processes of collectivity. These themes are explored materially between objects, objects and bodies, as well as the two artist bodies during performance.” For their degree show the pair intend to present an expanded and altered version of their work Outside I: encounter you as pearl, consisting of sculptural works and a live performance.

Degree show : 27-31 May (PV 24), University of Reading, School of Art, Department of Art, Reading RG6 6PU. reading.ac.uk/art

Luca and Katrina Dayanc, Utter Glihitter, performance at South Street Arts Centre, Reading, February 2024.

Images of absence

Working from archive photos, Jamie Bragg’s paintings draw on personal experience to explore universal themes. By JACK

Jamie Bragg’s paintings explore the intersection between photographic and analogue modes of image making. Using a mixture of found imagery and photos from his family archive, he creates highly personal work that explores a wide variety of themes, including masculinity, grief and isolation.

How has your work developed over your degree course?

I’ve been predominantly painting throughout. When I came into the degree I was intensely political and I think my work was quite on the nose, but I’ve taken a step back from that over the three years. By just painting every day your work progresses technically, but the main thing is it’s become a lot more personal as the course has gone on. At the end of my first year I started thinking more about my relationship to painting and a sense of identity, and concepts relating to masculinity.

Tell me about dealing with grief in your work. I work a lot with photographs from my wider family archive and some I’ve taken myself. Having that sort of relationship to a lot of the people in the photographs, through familial lineage and heritage, creates a personal element within my work. There’s a kind of devotion to some of the people within the imagery but also what that imagery might mean to me and my identity. For example, I worked a lot from images of cakes last year, and particularly this one video I took of my grandparents when I was younger. They were cutting their 60th wedding anniversary cake and then a few weeks later my granny passed away quite suddenly. So that process in itself, of devoting that time to it, was almost an act of grieving. My recent work has been exploring the motif of an empty bed, specifically my grandparents’ after suddenly losing my grandmother.

“I might be dealing with feelings of grief when I create the work, but it is ultimately up to the viewer to decide on what it means to them.”

I like this idea of a simultaneous absence and presence of bodies and how that relates to my grieving process. Does it concern you how the viewer interprets something that is so intimate?

I purposefully crop imagery and remove certain elements such as faces to strip the narrative out of my paintings. It’s completely inscrutable in that I know the context but other people might not. I kind of invite people to project their own fantasies and experiences onto my paintings.

You use the phrase ‘painterly amalgamations’. What do you mean by that?

Within the majority of my work I’m not working from one image. Sometimes I’m using dozens of images in one composition. For example, in the image of my grandmother cutting the cake, I put a gold watch on her wrist that wasn’t in the original photograph. By playing with the light, I wanted to subtly hint that something’s not quite right. I like hiding these slightly odd visual clues in my paintings.

What’s your process? Are you working on top of a photograph?

It really varies. I sometimes simply work from a digital, lens-based medium such as my phone. If I’m painting onto board or canvas I approach things slightly differently because the board takes up more of the oil, so I have to paint quicker. However, when I’m painting on a larger scale I’ll do a drawing and then project that drawing up. I’m more interested in approximation rather than a mechanical reproduction.

If you had any advice for yourself at the start of your degree, what would it be?

Just to be honest with your process and what you genuinely enjoy. That’s important for me as an artist and it took me a while to figure that out. I felt that art had to be this sort of profound statement on things much larger than myself, but I’ve realised the smaller things can be just as impactful.

Degree show: 15-19 June, The Ruskin School of Art, 128 Bullingdon Road, Oxford OX4 1QP. rsa.ox.ac.uk 1

Jamie Bragg, Bedsheet Elegy II 50x76cm, oils on canvas, 2023.

Reimagined histories

British African-Caribbean interdisciplinary artist Dezeta Fantie uses textiles, collage and video to reimagine the representations and realities u sed to depict Black women. Mixed-media works such as Hairstory interweave her personal experiences and heritage into the wider conversation on how Black bodies, history and hair are policed or misrepresented. Fantie explains that she aims to “find new ways to use textiles to create spaces that reflect the histories of Black women and allow us to be both safe and liberated. This is central to my practice.”

Degree show: 21-27 June (PV 21), Arts University Plymouth, Tavistock Place, Plymouth PL4 8AT. aup.ac.uk

Dezeta Fantie, Hairstory, 57x86cm, mixed media collage, 2024. DEZETA FANTIE, BA (HONS) FINE ART, ARTS UNIVERSITY PLYMOUTH

Eugene Chang, BA (Hons) Fine Art and History of Art, Goldsmiths University of London

Eugene Chang’s sculptural and textile work focuses on the home and parenting environment, and the act of caring for children in public and private spaces.

Degree show: 14-17 June (PV 13), Goldsmiths, New Cross, London SE14 6NW. gold.ac.uk/art/degree-shows/

1 Eugene Chang, Untitled, 60x90cm, oil

Zoe Maxwell, BA (Hons) Fine Art, Leeds Arts University

Zoe Maxwell’s paintings question the reliability of memory and photography, extending the scene captured whilst introducing new traces of narratives.

Degree show: 17-22 June (PV 21), Leeds Arts University, Blenheim Walk, Leeds LS2 9AQ. leeds-art.ac.uk

on mirror, 2024.
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2 Zoe Maxwell, Goats on Plinths, 100x120cm, 2023.

Changing the narrative

Embracing self-portraiture has empowered Amy Lee-Julian to challenge people’s perceptions of disability. By

It was never Amy Lee-Julian’s plan to explore disability in her art. At first, she actively resisted doing so. Growing up in Cornwall, she was more interested in painting local scenery than her experiences, and it wasn’t until a chance self-portrait during lockdown that she even contemplated using her own story as source material.

Now approaching the end of a BA in Painting, Drawing and Printing at the Arts University Plymouth, she acknowledges that her practice has undergone a profound shift. “When I started my degree I didn’t want to do self-portraits,” she says. “But after years of rejecting my disability and seeing it as separate from my art practice, I realised that disability is me – so I’d have to explore it.”

Lee-Julian’s self-portraits, however, aren’t purely introspective: they offer a critique on how she is seen by others. Using contrasting colour palettes, she suppresses or accentuates certain details to reframe the perception of her body. She might, for example, paint her chair and legs in muted grey, so that your eyes are drawn upward to her frank, steady gaze, or use bursts of primary colours to depict her passion for sport. It’s a way of presenting identity on her own terms, and a response to certain moments in her life when people have failed to acknowledge her presence at all.

Over time, she has come to recognise certain telltale signs in people’s behaviour that indicate a broader societal reluctance to understand disability. “You can just feel it in the way people speak over you, or act hesitant and afraid,” Lee-Julian says. “Like maybe they’re assuming disabled people can’t speak. I started thinking about how I want that to look like visually.” By embedding these uncomfortable interactions into her work, she found a way of inviting people to confront their own misconceptions and rethink how they engage with disability.

While some of Lee-Julian’s portraits foreground her face, eyes serious and intense behind thick violet frames, others reproduce the drama and dynamism of life as captain of the Cornwall Powerchair Football Club team. Vibrant blues and yellows evoke the bright lights of a sports hall, and in turn the excitement of a high-stakes competition. Where previously soft pastels or charcoal were used, now she prefers the intensity of gouache. “At the moment it’s about exploring bold colours and how to layer them, and seeing how it helps the portraits put the message across.”

Besides grappling with technique, Lee-Julian has had the added pressure of navigating campus life with a disability. “I think I was the first disabled person on my course,” she says. “You kind of have to supply your own

support, and a lot of people decide to leave because that’s so challenging.” There were, however, moments when staff made adjustments that really helped her artistic development. “Having a custom-built easel has been the biggest positive of my whole degree. My lecturer came to the studio, thought about it, then spoke with woodwork staff, who measured my chair and made an easel that I can actually use.”

Another issue has been the lack of resources about disabled artists in general. She draws inspiration from figures such as Lucy Jones, Frida Kahlo and particularly Alison Lapper, but says that her academic research hasn’t yielded as much information as she’d hoped. “I’ve been weeding through a book called Disability Politics and drawing on people’s experiences for how they look at things. But otherwise not that much comes up.”

For the degree show, she wants to expand on themes from earlier paintings, perhaps introducing more pronounced contrasts between the representation of her and her disability. “I’m currently exploring using two wooden panels to make clearer that separation,” she

Amy Lee-Julian, Self Portrait Strikeforce A2, willow charcoal and soft pastels on paper, 2023.

explains. “I’m making an actual divide between the top and bottom half of my body, and thinking about how to push that narrative. I think it’ll be more powerful than just colour separation.”

She’s also considering a pair of portraits, one showing her seated in her everyday Powerchair, the other playing football in her Strikeforce sports chair. It’s a way of capturing some of the different facets of her life, to portray “the realities of my disability, but also to show it in a good light and present a side that people don’t see”.

As the course draws to a close, she’s feeling galvanised by her subject matter, ready to resist the assumptions of strangers and instead offer them an honest and insightful way to relate to her experience. “Actually embracing my disability helped push forward my practice,” she reflects. “I think the change in narrative has helped me better understand how to put across a message to the audience, and to develop as an artist.”

Degree show: 21-27 June (PV 21), Arts University Plymouth, Tavistock Place, Plymouth PL4 8AT. aup.ac.uk/graduate-shows-2024

“After years of rejecting my disability and seeing it as separate from my art practice, I realised that disability is me – so I’d have to explore it.”
Amy Lee-Julian, Close up Self Portrait A2, willow charcoal and soft pastels on paper, 2023.
Amy Lee-Julian, Self Portrait with Red Jumper, A2, willow charcoal and soft pastels on paper, 2023.
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44 graduate DEGREE show 07----13 JUNE 2024

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After the show, what next?

For insight, advice and top tips on what to do next after graduation, including selling work, applying for opportunities and postgraduate study, visit a-n’s dedicated degree shows website. a-n.co.uk/degree-shows


On with the after show

What comes next after the degree show buzz has worn off and it’s time to stumble bleary-eyed into the next stage of your life? One year on, six 2023 graduates share their experiences and advice.

1 Anita Furlong, Happy New Depresión (detail), 100x70cm, oil on paper, 2024.

It’s the calm after the storm, the comedown after the high – that post-degree show, post-graduation moment when decisions need to be made, action taken. What to do? What’s your next move? How can you survive and prosper once you’re set adrift from the warm embrace of undergraduate life?

The answers to those questions are, of course, different for everyone. But to help a little with the next important steps on your artist journey, we thought it would be useful to catch up with six of our Class of 2023 interviewees from last year’s guide, to see how things have been going since we last spoke. So, how did your degree show go?

Kalisha Piper-Cheddie: My degree show ended up being quite ambitious – printing and putting up wallpaper is a lot of work, and it did come with some challenges. I had screen-printed two rolls of wallpaper, which took me weeks, and at the very last minute found out I had to produce another one to fill the space I had been given. Learning how to wallpaper a wall effectively was a big learning curve. In the end the show exceeded

my expectations because I wasn’t even sure I could get it all done. As a year group we worked very well together to put on a show we were all really proud of.

Joss Copeman: The degree show was my favourite week of the whole course. It was really nice for everybody to come together and celebrate each other’s work. We all learnt a lot about how an exhibition runs and the process of setting up, which was invaluable. It definitely allowed me to reflect on my work and realise there is still a lot of space for growth – even though I am still proud of the project, it showed me that in future I definitely want to work more with different mediums such as video and sculpture.

Anita Furlong: The degree show was amazing, I wanted it to last forever. Being part of such a big course, I only got to know the work of my course mates in small tutor groups, and suddenly there was so much to see. This gave me energy and hope – I felt a general openness; people were excited to talk about art, their work and the future, it was a very stimulating atmosphere. I did a few invigilating shifts during the 1

Joss Copeman, poppers, 30.5x25.4cm, archival inkjet print, 2022.

show which allowed me to see how people responded to my work, and I also had some amazing conversations. It was one of the rare occasions where I felt a true sense of togetherness in my experience as a student.

Anna-Marie Gallares: My degree show was something I was anticipating for the majority of my final year. It was a tight timeframe but I was pleased with finishing my outcome of A Year In My Life, a 4.5ft by 18ft acrylic painted tapestry. I decided to be brave in choosing to showcase one work but it made sense considering all experiments prior were leading up to the biggest piece I’ve created so far. The opening night itself was unexpectedly fantastic as I was presented with The New Graduate Award, which included a three-month artist residency with a studio provided by Breeze Collective, and to be part of Middlesbrough Art Weekender to exhibit my outcome.

Samantha Jackson: It was really lovely. I think my favourite thing about it was everybody’s work coming together at the same time, and seeing everyone in a collaborative space. I don’t know if I had any super concrete expectations going in, it was more about trying to deliver the work in the way that I thought would be best. There was a couple of opportunities that came from it, which was really nice. I won Glasgow School of Art’s Jon McFarland Prize for Printmaking, which was great. It’s a really good opportunity to platform your work and meet people.

Kite Myers: My degree show was amazing, I was able to have so many brilliant conversations about the works, particularly the different readings of the work, which has propelled my content forward in a way I hadn’t anticipated at the time. Some of those conversations have been extremely valuable to my practice and to my understanding of my own work and where I can go with it in the future.

What did you do next?

KP-C: Since I graduated I’ve been studying full-time for my MA in Archives and Records Management at University College London. My goal is to work with other artists in developing their archives alongside their practices. I have also been lucky to have started to work as a freelance artist – I was given the amazing opportunity to work with Leeds Art Gallery in putting on a series of artist-led workshops in their Artspace, and I delivered some school assemblies as part of Leeds 2023. This area of art education and workshops is something I hadn’t really thought of before I graduated but I really enjoyed them and it’s something I’m keen to keep exploring.

JC: Since graduating I’ve been working a pretty mindless 9-5 which I don’t love. I’m finding that feeling inspired is something that is a lot harder to come by when I’m not surrounded by like-minded creatives in an environment that nurtures these conversations all the time. As a result, I haven’t made any new solo work. I

“My main piece of advice to anyone graduating this year is to be kind to yourself and allow yourself time to process everything that has happened over your degree.”
Kite Myers

have also been working freelance for the National Museum of Wales on a new project that aims to broaden the museum’s LBGTQIA+ archives with the outcome being an exhibition, ‘Ours To Tell’, at the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea [until 26 August] for which I led on photography and videography.

AF: Right after graduating I juggled two jobs and didn’t do any art; I couldn’t afford a studio and had very little time. It was a big contrast from all the optimism of the show, and the freedom and access uni facilities give you. The transition was hard, as money became a bigger problem.

A-MG: I went straight into an artist residency from July to September 2023 which ended with an exhibition. In July I was also put forward by the University to join The Art of Protest: The Future Walls project, Sunderland, to be part of the Future Talent programme, a project to enhance the visual aesthetic of Sunderland city centre through street art. After the summer I applied for jobs and in October I landed a full-time job at Gateshead College as a Curriculum Support Worker (Art Technician) in the Art, Media and Design department. It’s been challenging as I never dreamed of being selected for this role.

Class of 2023: Who’s Who

Kalisha Piper-Cheddie: BA (Hons) Fine Art with Contemporary Cultural Theory at Leeds University

Joss Copeman: BA (Hons) Photography at University of South Wales, Cardiff.

Anita Furlong: BA (Hons) Fine Art and Art History at Goldsmiths, London.

Anna-Marie Gallares: BA (Hons) Fine Art at the University of Sunderland.

Samantha Jackson: BA (Hons) Painting and Printmaking at Glasgow School of Art.

Kite Myers: BA (Hons) Fine Art at Staffordshire University.


SJ: I worked a little bit in the summer and then moved down from Scotland to London in September to start a Painting MA at the Royal College of Art. I’d applied back in the January and got a place in February, then it was a process of working out funding, scholarships, housing, all that stuff. I decided to go straight onto the MA because I just felt that in my fourth year I tapped into something interesting, and to be quite honest I was afraid that if I didn’t take the time to explore that further it would kind of dissipate. I felt like I needed to follow through with all these new ideas and ways of working while it’s still fresh out the oven.

KM: After my BA I went into the MA Contemporary Arts Practice at Staffordshire University. I also work part-time to help fund my practice and my course. Due to the MA I still have a really good studio space and a community of artists around me that has essentially kept me in that creative ecosystem that I had as an undergrad. Myself and two fellow artists, Lorna Lakin and Poppy Deacon, have created an art collective to support each other and other local artists. We’re known as croK.

Has your art practice continued/developed over the last year?

KP-C: It has been difficult to continue my art practice to the same extent as I am studying full time and I no longer have access to studio space. But I am still working on some things where I can – it’s all about perspective, and making work is now something that has to fit around my life in a different way.

JC: Unfortunately not – I think it is becoming increasingly difficult for creatives to create at the moment with the cost of living and the arts being quite an elitist field. It is amazing to see all my friends and uni cohort thriving in commercial photographic roles, but I haven’t heard much in terms of new work from my fellow creatives who have a more conceptual focus in their work. There are very few job roles that cultivate this kind of practice and finding both the space to create and the time to do so is a lot harder when you have to juggle adult responsibilities.

AF: After six months [in London after graduation] I took a four-month break back home [in Argentina], and after all that time I started painting again! I’m returning to

Kalisha Piper-Cheddie, Somewhere between hope and mourning, two-screen video, 2023; Tropical Languages of Longing, screen-printed wallpaper, 2023
“Feeling inspired is something that is a lot harder to come by when I’m not surrounded by like-minded creatives.”
Joss Copeman

London soon, and I will be sharing a studio with one of my best friends, so I hope we will motivate each other. I realised how important it is for me to continue my practice.

A-MG: I had a studio space during July to October 2023. After my residency, I decided not to continue renting my space for financial reasons. I moved back with my parents and currently have a little corner in the house as my studio. My artist practice hasn’t been as active but I try to paint on the weekends or when I can. Having no deadlines has essentially conditioned me to take time, pace myself and take ownership in creating my work.

KM: My practice has taken a much more researchheavy route since my graduation. I’m fascinated with the social sciences, particularly anthropology, and so I have been more focused on learning and understanding the scope of where my practice falls within those contemporary discourses.

SJ: Part of the reason for going straight on to an MA was that I wanted to be in a shared studio space –community is really important to me in my work. I now know that that’s totally possible outside of an institution – there are studio programmes and other ways of doing things – but I was just very conscious of the fact that when the student loan stopped coming in I’d have to work full-time to pay rent and live. That’s quite a difficult thing to do and have an art practice at the same time, and I just didn’t want to have to battle with that straight out of the degree. I’ve got two jobs but I also get a scholarship from RCA – they are very good for that.

Finally, what advice would you give this year’s graduates?

KP-C: My advice would be to try and say yes to as many opportunities as you can and apply for everything. Also, be prepared that graduating means a big change in the pace of your life and that most other graduates are going through similar things.

JC: I think the most important thing is to continue to maintain your network of creatives and try and meet as many new people as you can, as these could no doubt become important connections. I interviewed John Paul Evans when I was still studying and I vividly recall him telling me to make note of who is programming the exhibitions and events that are relevant to my work and find a way to make sure they know my name – this is probably the best advice I can think of. Equally, even though I feel bad for not being as creative as I was at uni, I think it’s important not to compare yourself to others as everyone is on their own path. It is a big shift into the ‘real world’ after uni, so make sure you allow yourself the time to engage with the things that inspire you.

4 Anna-Marie Gallares pictured in front of her work, Letter to my Roots, 2023. 3 Samantha Jackson, Booklet, 2024.
3 4

AF: Take a break if you can! Plan your next move calmly; big cities can suck you in and make you think there is only one speed to follow, and you can experience a lot of FOMO. If you are in London, I’d say you should make sure you have a job and a steady source of income; even if it’s not your dream job, it will give you muchneeded stability. I wish I had done internships or placements while I was in uni because I realised how hard it is to get a good job in the arts when you have little related experience – and I can’t afford to do placements or work for free after graduation. Also, collaborate with friends, reach out to people online, have group projects, try to put on shows with other people, have some crit group, share a studio space... that will help you stay in touch with those in the same position as you.

A-MG: Don’t lose the drive to pursue being a creative. It is important to go to exhibitions, workshops and events to meet other creatives – this allows you to constantly learn and keeps you present. Motivation and action are equally important; you never know what opportunities might come simply from making yourself known to the community and expressing eagerness. And don’t forget to enjoy your artist journey. At its core, art is fun. Don’t lose that.

SJ: While I don’t regret going straight into the MA at the RCA, I also think there’s no harm in taking time to pause and think as well. For me it was also just that I wanted to have the opportunity to go somewhere new. I feel like

“The degree show was amazing, I wanted it to last forever.”

I could also have stayed in Glasgow, which has a very unique community of artists. It’s kind of like a special case in the UK – it’s quite special in the amount of projects that happen, things are very grassroots. There’s also lots of institutions that are very inclusive and you can achieve a lot with not very much.

KM: My main piece of advice would be to be kind to yourself and allow yourself time to process everything that has happened over your degree. Mull over the responses and conversations you had at your degree show, write down your own feelings about the experience and any particularly good nuggets of feedback you got (it may come in handy). Ensure you’re looking at the right resources for you – there are some brilliant places online to get information about open calls, grants, loans and competitions, but it can be so overwhelming. Pick out the things that are relevant to you, and if it starts becoming too much, consider collaborating with the artists around you: uplift each other, share the load.

6 Kite Myers, Looking Forwards, Looking Back, reclaimed materials, 2024. 6 5
5 Anita Furlong, Happy New Psicosis 150x100cm, oil on canvas, 2024


From a one-year Graduate Diploma to a two-year Masters, West Dean offers fine artists the chance to take their practice to the next level. Working in wonderfully spacious studios alongside expert tutors and visiting artists, you can find inspiration in the spirit of our founder Edward James, patron of the Surrealist movement and believer in the power of creativity.

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Be inspired at westdean.ac.uk

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