Gallery: Unit X Festival 2017

Images provided by staff from Manchester School of Art

Following a truly fantastic week of events, below is a gallery of images from this year’s Unit X Festival, along with photographs from activities and events that happened during the Unit.


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Unit X Festival 2017 – Exploring the Narrative

Words & Images: Aimee Plumbley

‘Exploring the Narrative’ invited first year Textiles in practice students to explore narrative through textile media. Their narratives were shaped by research into ethical, political and environmental and sustainability issues.

Pieces included narratives about concerns over Brexit and fake news, the impact that human behaviour is having on the planet and its climate, and anxieties over artificial intelligence and job security. Well done to the students involved for designing such creative narratives.

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Unit X Festival 2017 – Inspired by Ceremony

Words & Images: Aimee Plumbley

Unit X students and staff occupied Bruntwood’s NEO building on Tuesday night. Animation, filmmaking and photography student’s short films were displayed across the enormous digital screens in the lobby area.

The short films were inspired by Phil Collins’ ‘Ceremony’, dedicated to Friedrich Engels, as part of the Manchester International Festival.



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Images Motion Connection Workshop

Words & Images: Poppy Cartwright

On Thursday 9th March, our Level 4 Fashion, FAD and Interactive Arts group got together for a workshop.

Based on themes of motion, each group was given a word to creatively respond to, such as loop, weave, and twist. They were asked to think about a physical action as well as a process that could be used when making their work. Supplied with a vast choice of recycled materials such as ribbon card, rope so on, they had to creatively collaborate together to make a costume that would be used in an impromptu performance.

The workshop was a great icebreaker and encouraged them to be free with ideas and explore. The performance took place over in the Benzie building and all students participated and enjoyed performing!

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Fashion Protest

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Words: Susan Atkin

Images: Ilona Gill 

On Tuesday 7th March there was a Protest event which showcased Fashion Level 4 students’ garments made under that heading. Themes ranging from the miners’ strike and Stonewall to free the nipple and black power were covered, all of which held resonance for the students who chose those themes.

The show itself marked the beginning of a cross-collaborative project with Fashion, Fashion Art Direction and Interactive Arts. All students’ specialist skills were utilised as they worked together to present garments within a traditional catwalk setting with a protest tableau forming as models gathered post catwalk through the show.

An impromptu collaboration with graphics occurred as their own one day  workshop on protest produced a series of banners.

Unit X 2017

Words: Aimee Plumbley

Welcome to Unit X 2017!

Unit X is an innovative module that aids students’ professional development by working on externally focused projects, and enables the unique interdisciplinary opportunity to collaborate with undergraduate students across Manchester School of Art.

First year students have the opportunity to collaborate with students from other course areas across the School of Art. Collaborations this year include students from BA (Hons) Textiles in Practice, Interior Design and Three Dimensional Design to Film Making, Photography and Animation, whom will be working in interdisciplinary teams to complete a set brief.

Second year students have the opportunity to select a brief from a list of 12 intriguing live project titles. The project options this year include: Option 1 Publishing; Option 2 Placements; Option 3 Punk Project; Option 4 Isokon; Option 5 Narrative Encounters; Option 6 Festival; Option 7 Educator; Option 8 Studio Project; Option 9 Identical Lunch; Option 10 Future Intelligence; Option 11 Miao; and Option 12 Rebel-Tartan.

Third year students will be given support to professionalise their practice through the Enrichment Series, with the outlook that they will have developed as professional artists/designers upon graduation.

The Enrichment Series commences Thursday 9th March and will take place every Thursday thereafter. The timetable of events and activities will be available on Moodle, so make sure to check back regularly.

Unit X officially kick starts from the 6th of March.

Throughout the unit, the blog will be updated with coverage of the Inspirer Series, Enrichment Series and student and staff insights into ongoing projects.

Unit X will eventually reach its climax with the weeklong Unit X festival commencing on Monday 8th of May. We can’t wait!

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.