Ghosts, myths and an oak tree inspire UWE students

Issue date: 08 June 2009

'Sad dog' by Sarah Malton Creative Arts Degree Show
Saturday 20 June to Thursday 25 June 2009
Bower Ashton Campus, and Spike Island

Myths, ghosts, and the life of an oak tree are just some of the inspirations behind this year's Creative Arts Degree Show at the University of the West of England. The final year students will be showing their work at View, the Creative Arts Degree show at Bower Ashton Campus and at Spike Island from 20 to 25 June 2009.
The work on display covers disciplines including Animation, Drawing, Graphic Design, Illustration Photography and Fine Art.
Among the students whose work is on show are Simon Roberts and Josh Cawthorn who won a UK prize for their film 'Stand and Stare (the four hundred year life of an oak tree in four minutes)' which uses experimental mixed media to tell a narrative story.
The film won the UK prize at the young people's film festival Electric December and was then shown at the British Film Institute in London and the BUFF film festival in Malmo, Sweden.
The film uses live action, animation and illustration set to music to show the changes that occur over 400 years around an oak tree. The tree grows from a sampling in wood, is then surrounded by farmland, then by industry and then by a park and a city. The beautifully detailed illustrations are a gentle and moving illustration of the human activity that surrounds the tree.
Third year Graphic Design student Simon Roberts says, “Narratives can communicate ideas powerfully and simply. When you first watch the film you focus on the tree but what's more interesting is how the country has changed over its life. It was great and a little unexpected to win the prize especially when we found out we were going to Sweden. It's always encouraging to hear people like your work. People told me they found the film quite moving and it made me happy to know that people had connected with the film so strongly.”
“The most important thing I've learned through my course at UWE has been how to think in a creative way. It's really interesting to see how people approach the same problems using completely different methods.”
The film can be viewed here

Speaking about her work, Drawing and Applied Arts student, Sarah Malton says, “Animals are a recurring theme within my work and my current practice involves making needle felted dogs. My work addresses the topic of inbreeding and the effects it has on pedigree dogs. For example, hip dyspraxia in Spaniels, blindness and in very rare cases toy dogs born without legs. Needle felting is a process in which a barbed needle is use to 'stab' a sheep's fleece until it becomes a solid surface.”

Drawing and Applied Arts student Lucie Smailes took her inspiration from myths and legends like The Devil's Violin, Psyche and Eros, Sleeping Beauty and Hansel and Gretel. She says, “My work draws on intensely personal issues, which through the process of 'making' and the wisdom of myth find a resolve. I am fascinated by 1950's objects and a passion for collecting multiples. I try to intuitively combine these relics with hand-crafted sculptures and drawing, to create a theatre of extraordinary and dreamlike visual poetry. I am influenced by the artists of the surrealist and Dada era, my love of flamenco dance and Gypsy culture, and of course by the enigmatic 'found object'”.

Illustration student Ryan Hodge has focused on people who are transgendered for his drawing and illustration work. He says, “I have recently fully submerged myself into the rich social niche of the transgendered. I have witnessed the thrills, spills, frills and pills of this intriguing facet of human behaviour. I want my work to reach out and intimately touch the viewing public, possibly even evoking a life changing reaction in some. I hope the images challenge and explore established, and somewhat naive, notions of gender and identity in this area with a fun and playful spirit that titters on the hem of repulsion.”

Fiona Meadley (MA Art, Media, Design by Project) has an exhibition entitled, Ghosts in the Attic' at the Edward Jenner Museum situated in Berkeley, Gloucestershire until 31 October*. Fiona used video and sound installations to create the exhibition which is the first time the Museum have opened up the attic.

Fiona explains, “The story I re-create is Edward Jenner's own survival of smallpox, inflicted as a child as part of the then established medical procedure. It scarred him psychologically (he described the experience as the end of his childhood), and he suffered bouts of depression in later life. I feel it also explains his determination to pioneer and introduce a safer alternative procedure (vaccination). Smallpox vaccination is estimated to have saved millions of lives, nonetheless from its inception the story of vaccination is punctuated with tensions between the demands of public health and the concerns of individual liberty. I want to engage the public in a dialogue about these social ethics, deepened by a sense of empathy with the past, which I hope will be heightened by their experience of the installation in a historic 18th century space.”

(Tours of the attic run only during weekends and Bank Holidays at the Jenner Museum ).

Rob Irving is an MA student doing Art, Media and Design by Project. Rob's photos appear to portray ghostly and ethereal images, and include imagery made from ectoplasm. He says, “My work is concerned with concepts of the supernatural such as Ghosts, UFOs, flying simulacra, human/animal transformations, crop circles, and spontaneous human encounters with animate phenomena. I am interested in the way in which our encounters with the supernatural feed a subjective view of the world but also enrich our relationship with the world around us.”


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