Spectrum

Words by Hanieh Hazrati

Manchester Met’s Spectrum embarked on an exploration of art and science in response to a major international exhibition at the Manchester Art Gallery.

Spectrum was a learner-curated gallery intervention in response to The Imitation Game, a major exhibition held as part of the European City of Science festival, which critically examines robots, computing, engineering, and the impact of such technology on our understanding of life.

The event brought together students from Manchester School of Art with those from the faculty of Science and Engineering, with the aim of expanding Manchester Met’s exploration of art-science practice through teaching and collaboration.

During the process students worked alongside professional artists, scientists, curators, gallery educators, and science communicators, as well as experiencing a range of tours and presentations from people including artist Tony Hall, who demonstrated his table top experiments with Ferro fluid and ink, and Professor Andy Miah who delivered his experiences in science education and public engagement.

Students were introduced to each other’s working environments, operating in both art studios and science labs, exposing them to each other’s curiosities, methods and social concerns.  They continually worked on experiments in both the lab and the studio, experimenting together which in turn accelerated new questions and knowledge that changed learning habits and developed their science and art practices.

Organised by artists Annie Carpenter, Ella McCartney (MSA)  Dave Griffiths (Manchester School of Art), physicist and poet Sam Illingworth (Faculty of Science & Engineering), and curator Clare Gannaway, the art gallery came into life by featuring six exhibitions called; Emotional Training, Eternal Return, Vibrio Fischeri, Nothing, Evolution and Remember Me.

Manchester Art Gallery curator Kate Jesson said: “We felt the evening to be a great success. We are at our happiest when the gallery comes alive with all the creativity of the city’s future artists. The partnerships with young scientists made this year’s Unit X project extra special.  So a huge thank you from us to you, Annie, Dave and Ella and especially the students who rose to the challenge admirably.”

The amazing photos from the MMU Spectrum and the Manchester Art Gallery can be found here – https://flic.kr/s/aHskA7XKp3.

 

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Unit X Exhibition 2016

Words by Ayah Alshami, Ayesha Mirza and Houda Kaddouh

We have just celebrated the fifth year of Unit X in style with a truly fantastic exhibition of our student collaborations. The exhibition was held at London Scottish House, an ordinary office block transformed by inspirational work ranging from the modern era to classic renaissance compositions.

The students’ work was displayed using an array of techniques, each uniquely developed to the subject matter. From compositions to full office installations, the building was brought to life in the most brilliant of fashions.

Second year students from Illustration with Animation, Creative Multimedia and Fine Art Curating collaborated with renowned composer Peter Byrom-Smith who composed incredible short pieces for each student, which were played live by a 12-piece orchestra. Each animation spoke an intimate story, from the threats of biodiversity, to a Native American folk tale about a grasshopper and a cricket, produced with puppets! Each live performance felt like a personalised experience, as though you were being let into a little secret. It was definitely not one to miss, the energy in the room was incredible and the performance set a wonderful tone for the rest of the evening.

‘I was challenged to work in disciplines that I wouldn’t usually consider exploring’

Tapping into Manchester’s Year of Science, first year Textiles in Practice and Three Dimensional Design students were involved in a project entitled ‘Art Meets Science’. In groups students deliberated on how science and technology have reformed methods in representing the body. Visitors were encouraged to look at every detail within the various fabrics. The embroidered pieces were particularly delicate and intricate. Students also strategically laid out their sketchbooks next to their exhibits, and it was lovely to see the creative process from start to finish.

‘Working with people with other skills gave me the opportunity to produce a product that looks more complete. My ceramic vessels look a lot more interesting with the textiles features.’

On the second floor, work by Filmmaking, Animation and Photography students, expressed their brief with pieces relating to the English National Ballet, thereby accompanying the world premiere of Giselle, choreographed by the renowned Akran Khan, which will be performed in September. This had the audience walking through a series of projectors, much like an American drive-in movie theatre, except that one was able to navigate through many different movies in the same space.

Property developer Bruntwood asked students to develop original ideas for hoardings to surround the new Circle Square development on Oxford Road, and reimagine spaces within Blackfriar’s House.

As we become infatuated with the advancement of Manchester’s development, it is crucial that we are able to reassess how we occupy the city.

By working on this brief, students had to pitch, create proposals and liaise with Bruntwood representatives to develop their own ideas.

Unit X has continuously proven to be ingenious and resourceful.

The work produced was extremely professional and I could easily see any of these designs being cultivated in Manchester.

Another enterprising brief involved developing 12 looks for client James Long, who has quickly become one of the most sought after fashion designers. Long has recently won the Fashion Forward Award, an initiative set up to promote emerging design talent, a wonderful opportunity for those who selected to undertake the Fashion brief for their Unit X project. Students experimented with different materials such as foam, and produced sample pieces alongside sketches. The exhibit attracted many visitors who came to marvel at all the bright colours and exaggerated shapes. The students curated each outfit with aesthetics very much at the forefront of contemporary fashion.

Out of the four floors of installations and art, it would be impossible to choose a favourite, however first year students from Fashion, Fashion Art Direction, Interactive Arts and Interior Design definitely came close. This collaboration played with ideas of temptation and escapism, creating environments that heightened your senses and immersed you into alternative surroundings. Students experimented with different materials and delved into themes surrounding the question ‘Can space affect your behaviour?’. Each installation evoked feelings from the public, be it tranquillity, or an unsettling sense, as each atmosphere was unpredictable, flicking quickly from one emotion to another.

‘It was challenging to work with courses that work in a completely different way to how we work. I am doing Interactive Arts and working with Fashion students that are used to strict timescales and deadlines, I felt pressured in a productive way. I had to make quick decisions and be selective with my ideas.’

For me, the highlight of the evening had to be the educator workshop. A student who had worked on this project explained that students from a variety of courses had worked together to develop and deliver engaging workshops in public settings. Most of the students who chose this option would like to go on to work in schools.

It was therapeutic to escape from the busy exhibition, have a chance to unwind and make pompom key-rings, and visitors were able to create their own collaborative piece by throwing darts at paint filled balloons.

Overall, I was exceptionally overwhelmed with the high standard of quality, professionalism and how the eclectic mix of courses harmonized. It was truly interesting to see how everyone approached each notion in a different way. Students have raised the bar, and expectations next year will be high. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Unit X 2017!

‘As an alumni of the Three Dimensional Design course at Manchester School Of Art, the Unit X exhibition is always a highlighted date in my calendar. It is just incredible to see how the students developed their unique approaches to the collaborative briefs this year resulting is this phenomenal transformation of the London Scottish House in the city centre. It is notable that the standard of the work across all courses is creeping up each year. The experience from the initial introduction to the unit through to the final exhibit is invaluable for the students careers beyond university.’

‘From the inspiring talks, trips and workshops to the opportunity of engaging with an external organisation, Unit X offers the perfect package for students to experience working as a creative in the real world.’  

You can access a gallery of works from the exhibition here.

There are also lots of posts detailing the processes our students went through to get to the exhibition here.

 

 

Gallery: Unit X Final Show 2016

Images provided by Staff & Students from Manchester School of Art, and visitors

This year’s final exhibition was a perfect end to a truly full on ten weeks for our students. The standard of collaborative work produced seems to improve year on year, and we are incredibly proud to share their results with you.

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Why We Love Manchester School of Art

Words: Abi Goodman

There was a real buzz around the School of Art this week.

By Thursday, Second year students from the Whitworth Threads project were developing their team-working skills by accepting the challenge of building a support structure to carry an egg through the air, to see who could ‘fly’ their egg the furthest and whose egg would survive the trip intact!

Meanwhile First year students from BA Hons Fashion, Fashion Art Direction, Interactive Arts and Interior Design were working in cross-disciplinary teams to produce a wearable museum. This day long workshop was led by former Interactive Arts graduate Aliyah Hussain who is a visual artist and performance artist. In her practice she works with costume, performance and audience reaction.

She challenged the students to think of the body as architecture and to make costumes relating to different themes. Students were encouraged to experiment with a DIY approach to see how simple materials such as paper could be manipulated and transformed. The day was finished off with an impromptu portable gallery opening.

We, at the blog, were fortunate to get talking to one group of students at the big reveal in the Benzie foyer. They said that they had not known what they were in for and the day had proven to be really creative. Most importantly the day had helped them gel as a group and gain different points of view as they were all from different disciplines.

Also this week, intriguing large-scale cardboard objects and characters started to appear with First year students from BA Hons Graphic Design and Illustration with Animation who had been undertaking a workshop with Lord Whitney (who gave an Inspirer Lecture earlier in the week). More detail to follow on the Inspirer speakers next week!

 

Unit X: The Final Show Reflection

Words: Kellie Craig
Images: Kristian Bird

Once again Unit X has concluded for this academic year, finishing on a high in a mass collaborative exhibition at Federation House.

From beginnings, concepts and ideas to the final executed products, students should consider themselves extremely proud of the work they have achieved in the ten-week time frame for the unit.

fashion development on show

In demonstrating knowledge of their assigned briefs, including drawing upon experiences from field trips and workshops led by professional practitioners, students have established their own individual strengths, but also shown the many visitors to Federation House their dedication to collaborative practice as a whole.

Students arrived as early as Tuesday morning to start setting up their exhibition spaces; at first an empty shell of a building, floors in Federation House were transformed into dedicated pop-up gallery spaces corresponding to each group of students. Whether visitors looked at spaces by Art History and Curating, Graphic Design, or Fine Art, each space reflected an extremely high standard of work.

fashion development on display

Of the Federation House space, the students this year were extremely fortunate to have concluded the unit in a building that will soon cease to exist. Having spent some time under the direction of Castlefield Gallery, the short-lived ‘new art space’ will soon become a thing of the past, only to be remembered through memories shared between those who participated in visiting and curating exhibitions within it. As we become witnesses to the continual regeneration of Manchester’s cultural hotspots, students in years to come must continue to be even more resilient, inventive and enterprising when it comes to coordinating their future collaborations.

The level of professionalism demonstrated by each group and each course was outstanding; a special collaboration between Manchester School of Art and Royal Northern College of Music saw both parties come together to create artistic environments, acting as the set for operatic performance pieces.

Of the project, some first-year students I spoke to shared their initial anxiety during Unit X: “it sometimes feels like your head is going to burst from the stress of collaborating in such a short amount of time, but when you see the final outcome, in the end it all becomes worth it”. It is true that the first experience of the unit can be a daunting one; it is very much a case of expectation versus reality, but in the case of the class of 2015, the Federation House finale was certainly a show that these students from Manchester School of Art won’t forget.