Words and images : Olivia Wedderburn
Headed up by the Interactive Arts team, students from first year Unit X came to Federation House last Thursday to discuss their work for the final Unit X show amongst their cross-curricular peers. The students, spanning courses such as Textiles, 3D, Interior Design and Interactive Arts, will be showing their work at New Century House with 580 other students from the first and second years at Manchester School of Art.
Federation House and New Century House are part of NOMA, who have kindly donated some of the former Co-Operative office spaces to artist initiatives around the NOMA district. Federation House homes pop up art spaces sponsored by Castlefield Gallery, while New Century House has been home to events such as Future Everything and Unit X.
The student briefing took place in studio space on the 4th floor of Federation House, where many of the Unit X workshops and programmes have taken place, and as students were randomly placed into groups they discussed their practice and ways in which the courses could collaborate for the final show. The session took place almost like a group crit, but instead of being assessed by tutors, it was a peer review session, posing interesting questions surrounding the work that has been birthed out of the project. The open discourse in an unfamiliar studio space inspired talks of how to approach the show, discussing limitations and challenges amongst the backdrop of the students work.
Half way through the session students then headed across to New Century House to have a sneak peak at the space they would be exhibiting in. The space is large and vacuous, spanning many floors. Students discussed thematic approaches to the building, that while taking the current form of an office block, can be transformed into a gallery space, with large windows pooling light into the several floors that will house this year’s celebrations. Talk of food outlets and bars taking residency in the first floor and foyer titillated students many of who will be exhibiting their work to the public for the first time.
What is most exciting about the work taking place in the new NOMA district is the beginning of an emergence of a new artistic scene that will be taking Manchester by storm over the next few years. An extension to the overcrowded Northern Quarter, these large disused spaces between Shudehill and Victoria Station are beginning to manifest themselves as the new desirable art spaces of Manchester. The creative scene here is rapidly expanding and to have our students be able to show their work in the early stages of exciting new project developments is incredibly valuable to both the art school and the arts scene within the North West. The show itself will be a credit to the amazing things that come out of the collaborative and creative aspects of Unit X.