Punk Workshop

Words: Aimee Plumbley

Images: Zoe Hitchen

Last week, level five students on the option three Punk project stream took part in a process led workshop held by graphic designer Malcolm Garrett, and stylist and art director Judy Blame. Malcolm and Judy are old school punks who studied in Manchester in the 1970s.


The students prepared research in advance of the workshop, which fed into a physical response to image and identity. The brief required students to ask questions such as ‘What inspires/ frustrates you?’ and ‘What do you feel a part of?’ to inspire their physical manifestations of punk.

Our students approached the brief from different perspectives, and the physical responses varied. Some of the ideas explored throughout the workshop included:

  • Punk and femininity acting as masks.
  • The commodification of punk and feminism. Especially conversation i.e. wearing the punk aesthetic, but not actually making any political statement.
  • Does punk still have currency? What is punk in 2017? In this world of hyper-reality, is making conversation with eye contact breaking the norm and rebelling? Could putting away our phones and in fact talking to one another be punk?

Malcolm explained the workshop was a unique opportunity for students to act unprofessionally in a professional setting, the punk aesthetic after all is supposed to be fun. The students were learning in a different style of learning as opposed to usual workshops at University.

“Punk encouraged personal expression and endorsed positive, personal intervention in society.”

We caught up with a second year Interactive Arts student who found the workshop “exciting”, and was inspired by the sense of community in collaborating with various creative students. She felt the workshop “allowed me to express how I’d like to present my work”, and was a welcome break from the academic model.

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Option 1a Spectrum

Words: Abi Goodman

Students from BA (Hons) Fine Art, Interactive Arts, Art History, Creative Practice, and Textiles in Practice are joining forces with biochemists, environmental scientists, biomedical students, engineers, forensics students and ecologists. Unit X’s Catalyst Option (since renamed ‘Spectrum’ after an introductory Unconference in week one) brings together students from Manchester School of Art with those from the faculty of Science and Engineering (via MMU Futures).

Spectrum is co-designed by the students and staff working together, and is organised by artists Annie Carpenter & Dave Griffiths (Manchester School of Art) with physicist and poet Sam Illingworth (Faculty of Science & Engineering), artist Ella McCartney (MSA) and curator Clare Gannaway (Manchester Art Gallery).

In the second week of Unit X, students were introduced to each other’s working environments. Part one of the session was delivered within the Interactive Arts studio whilst part two took part within a lab. The first engaged participants in an unconventional drawing workshop:

“We are now going to start orbiting around the centre of our galaxy at 220km/sec. Everyone start orbiting around the room while you draw…..”

The workshop asked students to consider the Universe, Dark Matter, Dark Energy, Our Galaxy, the ground beneath our feet, carbon, and then the Quantum world, whilst drawing with charcoal on paper (in the dark, in the light and walking around). Participants were then invited to tear up their drawings and make them into a large co-joined piece in the centre of the room.

Reflecting on the experience and resulting artwork participants were invited to consider what metaphors came to mind and what the resulting piece said about:

  • the universe

“It represents disparate entities that are brought together by a co-joining force.”

“No-one owns it but all are involved in its creation – that is what the Universe is.”

“I think it looks scary and weird like the Universe – intimidating because it is so unknown and chaotic.”

  • the art/science process.

“Once you put something out there you have no control over it.”

“Art/Science works best if everyone is allowed to fail.”

“As with the research process we are building on and tearing down what has gone before.”

“You have to go deep into the pile to find your work.”

The second half of the afternoon took place in a lab environment where students worked in groups to devise experiments with simple objects. The conclusion reached was that hitting on the right question is the hardest thing to do. Sam Illingworth expressed that when he started a masters in science he suddenly realised that he knew how to prepare for examinations but not how to do science i.e. to find the idea that generates the research. The next challenge for participants was to pair up with someone from a different discipline, devise an experiment and share it with the group at the next meeting.

At the end of the day we got chatting with a student of medicinal and biological chemistry who had the following to say:

“I am interested in art. I like to keep that creative part of myself. At the Unconference we were talking about how important it is not to dismiss either art or science. I can draw. The item I brought along to the Unconference was a drawing which had a revision note for my A-level Chemistry exam on the back. It’s always going to be relevant for art and science to be together, to keep them integrated.” (Chelsea Martinez – science student)

Option 7: Publishing

Words: Abi Goodman

“We just returned from a 2 day workshop with the 2nd year Graphic students at Manchester School of Art – a brilliant group and a beautiful school! We want to go back.” (Studio Dumbar Facebook Post 11 March 2016)

We’d love to see them again! Following on from our last post, concerning the amazing workshop that Studio Dumbar ran in March, we thought we’d share our notes from the inspiring lecture they gave while they were here. This was for Second year students from Manchester School of Art who have selected to undertake Option 7: Publishing as their Unit X project.

Studio Dumbar was founded in 1977 by 20 people from 5 nationalities. The Studio’s focus is visual branding and clients include: the Dutch railway, police and airline Transavia.

Liza Enebeis, Vincent Vrints and Daan Rietbergen introduced students to projects they had been involved in and the way the studio works. Liza’s working practice involves “writing, writing, writing”, for Daan “graphic design started for me with graffiti, experimenting with shape forms and typography”, whilst Vincent initially studied illustration and became increasingly interested in graphic design as he produced promotional material for his small collective – Studio Fluit. Vincent shared the 3D poster designs he has created for Amsterdam Sinfonia.

Liza talked about the importance of pursuing projects in your own time to relax and to inspire you.

“What you do in your spare time is also important as it inspires you and it tells us a little more about you.” (Liza)

In her spare time Liza acts as an agony aunt to designers through her blog LetterstoLoveLiza.com, and she founded Typeradio.org. The Studio is also not afraid of a bit of exercise. The whole Studio got involved in their very own Logo Gym in which they recreated famous logos using just their bodies!

The Studio shared two examples of the process the Studio goes through, one to create a visual identity for Alzheimer Nederland and another for the Royal Picture Gallery in the Hague. Every project is assigned two designers and an intern. Projects are matched with individuals at the Studio to play to their particular strengths.

The Studio is particularly keen to bring on board new talent and so they offer three month internships to students who are still studying.

“The idea is you come straight out of college with new ideas. Everyone has an individual way of looking at things.” (Liza Enebeis)

Liza, Daan and Vincent all started as interns at the Studio. For those that might be interesting in applying the advice was to do so early as slots can get booked up a year in advance. You don’t need to be able to speak Dutch. For more information you can find out more at the Studio’s website.

Studio Dumbar Workshop – Gallery

Images by Graphic Design & Studio Dumbar 

Award winning international Design Agency Studio Dumbar ran a workshop with our 2nd Year Graphic Design students before the end of term.

They asked the students to create a message that had to compete for attention in a world of messages. Students responded with protests about toilets, signs about signs, Girl Bands, swearing, 80s porn and more.

Below is a gallery of just some of the fantastic images from the workshop. Enjoy!

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Option 1 – Educator – BTHCC Workshop

Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 12.11.04This week, Second Year students ran a workshop for a secondary school class at Blessed Thomas Holford Catholic College Teaching School. This was part of the Unit X Educator option, which supports students who are interested in teaching or running workshops as part of their practice. This year a mixture of students from across the School (including Fine Art, Art History, Three Dimensional Design and Textiles in Practice) are working together to develop and deliver workshops in schools and community settings.

“Many students (particularly from Fine Art) go into teaching so this is an important part of their practice. Even if you don’t want to teach it is useful to know how to put together and deliver a workshop to accompany an exhibition. This is why this unit teaches you the practicalities of doing so and gives you placement work experience to develop these skills.” (Anna Frew, Associate Lecturer and Art and Design Outreach Tutor)

Today’s group (comprising of Fine Art and Art History students) ran a workshop to help Year 8 pupils create animations that will be exhibited at Manchester School of Art’s Benzie Vertical Gallery between 4th and 9th April as part of the ‘Out of Schools’ show. This annual show is an annual exhibition of pupil’s work from schools across the region that showcases the exceptional achievements in art and design from early years to college students.

Manchester is the European City of Science for 2016 so this year’s theme for the ‘Out of Schools’ show is ‘the Peppered Moth’. This project considers the impact of the industrial revolution on the evolution of the moth. An increase in industrial pollution led to an increase in the number of dark-coloured moths, whereas cleaner environmental conditions (after the Clean Air Act of 1956) led to a decrease in that population and an increase in lighter colour moths.

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Students worked with pupils at BTHCC to explore this concept by creating short animations using a stopframe technique for which pupils constructed the moths (from wire, acetate and tinfoil), background scenery, and then made their films by putting together a series of photographs using tablets.

Meanwhile we caught up with art teacher Miss Collings who is also a past MMU graduate (having studied Illustration and then a PGCE at MMU). She loves teaching and said that having students in was great as it really inspires the pupils. She was excited to meet students who are interested in teaching and was keen to encourage students to take up work placements in schools. Her top tip for being a teacher was to be yourself and to think of ways you can inspire pupils to try new things.

“What I like best about teaching art is the kids. They make you laugh. They give me ideas for my own work too, they keep it fresh by looking at ideas. It’s like being in the studio everyday with people to bounce ideas off – there are just 200 of them!” (Miss Collings, Art teacher at BTHCC)

Many thanks to the staff and pupils of BTHCC. We look forward to the exhibition of their work in April!

Lord Whitney Workshop Gallery

Following on from the fantastic two day workshop delivered by Lord Whitney last week, below is a selection of images of students collaborating and engaging with the project.

Images by Gemma McKay, Susan Platt,Ian Whadcock, Lord Whitney 

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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!