Student Profile : Olivia Wedderburn

In the final year of their undergraduate course Level 6 students take part in Unit X independently, working on self-directed projects leading to a showcase of final work at the Degree Show. Project Unit X’s Student Profiles give you an insight into the way Unit X has shaped their work…

Name: Olivia Wedderburn
Course: Contemporary Art History

My practice is largely theory based, which I think is bound to happen when you’re studying Art History in an art school. At the moment, I’m primarily focused with the aspect of archiving and researching and then making that into something, usually installation based. I think there should be more room for making and creating in art history, after all without the aesthetics, we wouldn’t know where to begin! I am largely inspired by Kurt Schwitters (his cut and paste aesthetic is integral to my practice), George Maciunas (the flowing and unknowing of Fluxus helps keep me grounded when I’m panicking about “what everything means”) and Marina Abramovic (I owe it to her for my passion for performance art and its importance in contemporary art).

Have you taken part in Unit X in the past? If so, how did this affect your work? 

I was in the inaugural Unit X and it’s been a love affair from the start. I spend the majority of the year locked up in the library, and although I find pleasure in that, I think it’s easy for me to forget that I actually have a creative side. Unit X really lets me explore that, and I enjoy working with people interdisciplinarily. Primarily working with Interactive Arts over the last couple of years has taught me volumes, especially in terms of confidence within the work I produce and not being afraid to take risks. I’ve learnt how to do everything from lasercutting to risographing and that’s down to Unit X helping me push the boundaries of my practice. Plus I would have never expected to learn these things on a contemporary art history course!

What are you doing for Unit X this year? 

This year I am concentrating on my Degree Show for Unit X. I don’t want to give too much away, but I think it’s going to be a really interesting project. I’ve started a new collective recently, and the events that emerge from that will correlate and culminate in the degree show. It’s completely dependent on collaboration, as it is primarily a project that aims to archive the contemporary, therefore everything that comes in and out of the art school is of keen interest to me! [Editor’s Note: Olivia is also a digital journalist for the Project Unit X blog, look out for her at upcoming Unit X events!]

Do you have plans for after you graduate? How will Unit X help you prepare for them?

The question that third years most loathe. I have about a billion plans for life post-university, but whether I realise any of those is a completely different thing all together. The real dream is that I can stay in Manchester and keep on contributing to the arts scene here. I think what’s happening arts wise in Manchester right now is so exciting and I don’t want to leave it behind. I’d love to be able to continue my collective in Manchester, in its home. I’m hoping that all the work I’ve been putting into Unit X over the years will reflect well on my professional portfolio and somebody will take me on, paid. Working in a bar and doing the art thing on the side is probably more likely, but that sounds pretty good to me also.

What has been the most valuable thing you have learned through Unit X?

Don’t doubt yourself or your skills – you can probably do it if you put your mind to it, if you don’t ask you don’t get and if the weathers nice, you will get more work done.

If possible please also include up to three images of your work.

I’m currently on the look out for thinkers, doers, makers and writers to collaborate with! If you think you fit the bill, or if you just want to know more about my new collective, email me and/or my partner at or like us on Facebook at

Also if any of you reading this took part in the zine fair last year, or are taking part this year, please let me know! We are trying to get as many as possible together for an archive project and we’d greatly appreciate it.

You can also find Olivia online at, or follow @oliviawedd on Twitter.


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