5 Things About Unit X 2016

Words: Abi Goodman

1 – What is Unit X?

This is the fourth year of Unit X, Manchester School of Art’s innovative interdisciplinary module which aids students’ professional development. Over the next 10 weeks (term-time) students from right across the Art School will be: working on live briefs; collaborating to produce work that would not be possible operating as a single student; learning from the skills & expertise of students and staff from other course areas; and learning how to work in a real-world environment (including: pitching, teaching, producing, installing, and promoting).

 2 – Why ‘X’?

The X can be understood as eXternally facing, X-marks the spot, the unit that has the X-factor!

3 – How Does It Work?

In first year students are teamed up with students from 1 to 3 other course areas. For example, this year students from BA (Hons) courses in Fashion, Fashion Art Direction, Interior Design and Interactive Arts will be working together in interdisciplinary teams on a set brief. More information on who has been buddied up with whom and what they’re up to will be revealed next week!

Second year students have been able to choose from a list of ten eXciting live projects. The project options students have selected from this year are as follows: Option 1 Educator; Option 1a Catalyst; Option 2 Work Placements; Option 3 Fashion Industry; Option 4 Design/Studio; Option 5 Archive – the Imagined Museum; Option 6 Whitworth Threads; and Option 7 Publishing. More detail on these enigmatic titles will follow in future posts, stay tuned for more.

Third year students are given support within Unit X to professionalise their practice, equipping then to be professional artists/ designers upon graduation. This year’s Enrichment series open to Third year students includes sessions on: going freelance, intellectual property laws, promoting yourself, pricing your time and work, finding and securing funding, and how to construct and adapt your CV to the market. In addition to this industry professionals from specific areas will deliver short interview-style portfolio surgeries to interested students.

 4 – Who is Involved?

External agencies and clients involved in the project briefs this year include: Bruntwood property developers, Manchester Art Gallery, the Whitworth Art Gallery, James Long fashion designer, composer Peter-Byrom Smith and Rotterdam based Studio Dumbar (a world renowned design studio) to name just a few. More detail to follow on each project in future posts.

In addition to this, students from first year, third year, and postgraduate level students, along with studio holders from MSA’s very own Stockport Marketplace Studios, can access a series of thought-provoking lectures from art and design professionals in the Inspirer series. This year’s speakers are: Michael Atkins aka Cheddar Gorgeous, Liam Hopkins, Peter Byrom-Smith, Lord Whitney, Dave Haslam, Andrea Zapp, Professor David Crow, Rob Kesseler, Mark Hearld, Alice Kettle, Dominic Wilcox, Susie MacMurray, Matthew Pendergast and 4 Creative.

5 – When can we see what’s happening?

This blog will track work in progress whilst a final exhibition of the work arising from the Unit will take place in central Manchester between Thursday 12th and Saturday 14th of May at London Scottish House (on Mount Street, opposite Manchester Convention Centre). The opening night is part of this year’s ‘Manchester After Hours’ creative festival (part of the National Museums at Night Initiative).

Save the date – we look forward to seeing you there!


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