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Image showing work by Benjamin Greenhalgh, Lecturer at Manchester School of Art

Benjamin Greenhalgh, Lecturer at Manchester School of Art, responded to news headline ‘Owl wings may hold the key to turbulence-proof planes’, National Geographic 05/03/21

Foundation Art and Design students create striking visual artworks inspired by current news topics

1 July 2021

‘Imaginative Press’ showcases more than 200 artworks in an online collection

Student artists and designers have created a weekly ’creative newspaper’ of striking visual artworks in response to the stories leading news bulletins.

Over nine weeks, students from the Graphics and Illustration pathway on the Foundation Art and Design course at Manchester School of Art, Manchester Metropolitan University were provided with a weekly theme on topical areas of current news including world news, the environment, science and technology, health, celebrities, politics and sport.

Students were then tasked with creating a quick, visual outcome that responded to a news headline of their choice relating to the weekly theme, challenging their creative thinking process.

Students produced work that responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, global carbon emissions, the English local elections, the lunar space station and many other topical stories.

Foundation Art and Design student Lucy Nathan responded to the headline ‘The colourful fridges popping up on American streets’ BBC 25/02/21

Each week, students uploaded their creative responses into an online collection, through the platform Padlet, resulting in a visual showcase known as Imaginative Press, of more than 200 striking visual pieces by over 30 students in total.

The artworks submitted covered a diverse mix of creative approaches, outcomes and ideas including graphic design, illustration, photomontage and creative image-making, reflecting the wide range of specialisms covered on the course.

Imaginative Press was devised by Benjamin Greenhalgh, Lecturer at Manchester School of Art, as an adaptation to his project in 2017 where he edited a daily ‘creative newspaper’ of artwork responding to news stories each day for the whole of 2017 with quick, visual responses. He also participated in the current project, responding each week with his own visual outcome to the topic, prior to uploading to the same Padlet.

He said: “The adapted Imaginative Press project has provided a unique opportunity for Foundation Art and Design students to respond to varying news stories with quick, visual outcomes based on weekly themes over a nine-week period.

Foundation Art and Design student Kay Holland responded to the headline ‘Climate change: Carbon emission promises 'put Earth on red alert’, BBC 26/02/21

“Overall, the student engagement and level of collective creative response has been exceptional; partaking in this extra-curricular project whilst developing their Final Major Projects, where students initiate, manage and develop a project independently within their chosen professional context for their final unit – consolidating practice. The progression of the project has resulted in a wide variety of news topics and headlines being explored through a fabulously diverse mix of creative approaches, outcomes and ideas.

“I’ve adapted and evolved Imaginative Press over five years; originally an all year-round project, that entailed a visual response to daily news every day for the duration of 2017. Over time, the project has become more educational, more collaborative and more of what I initially intended it to be, a creative newspaper, covering key topics from environmental, technological and political to sports, celebrities and worldwide. The current digital formation of striking and creatively diverse images assembled within a grid replicates exactly that, the news captured in visual form.”

After submitting their artworks, students took part in weekly reviews offering the opportunity to discuss the wide variety of news stories and topics explored with their peers.

Foundation Art and Design student Roberta Pellow Bailey said: “I enjoyed the Imaginative Press project, which provided a couple of hours each week to explore new creative processes, keep up to date on current affairs and also create in an encouraging environment. It made reading the news more enjoyable, also was nice to create a new response each week, which kept it interesting and allows you the option to create either a series of similar works or mix it up and explore new media and techniques. Weekly reviews were educational in terms of learning about different processes and how peers make work.”

Foundation Art and Design student Chloe McVeigh responded to the headline ‘Unbelievable! Alisson joins the select band of goal-scoring goalkeepers, ESPN 17/05/21

Fellow Foundation Art and Design student Miko Konurbaeva said: “I enjoyed participating in the Imaginative Press project as it gave me the opportunity to develop my practical skills in digital image-making, when I focused more on concept and contextual research in my Final Major Project.

“Weekly themes allowed enough freedom to find an interesting article. At the same time these limits encouraged me to try different approaches for different news stories in order to communicate the message effectively. Overall, Imaginative Press was a relevant, interesting and exciting project for graphic design and illustration students.”

The full range of creative artworks can be viewed in the Imaginative Press online collection.