Manchester School of Art degree show features work exploring food waste, ritual jewellery, cost of living crisis, and autism in digital age
16 June 2023
Food waste ceramics, 3D cost of living illustration, Irish ritual inspired jewellery and textiles about autism in digital age among standout work on display
The Class of 2023 from Manchester Met’s Manchester School of Art are showcasing their creative talents and achievements with food waste ceramics, Irish ritual jewellery, 3D cost of living illustration, and textiles about autism in the digital age amongst the standout works on display in the annual degree show.
Next Message, on display until June 21, celebrates the incredible work and achievements of the Class of 2023 in an exhibition taking place across the University’s Benzie building, Chatham building, and the School of Digital Arts (SODA).
The exhibition, which usually attracts around 6,000 visitors, presents work from more than 500 graduating students from 17 courses and includes everything from fine art to filmmaking, textiles to photography, and animation to sculpture.
A digital showcase complements the physical exhibition and features profiles and work from students across all Manchester School of Art courses.
Highlights of the exhibition include BA (Hons) Textiles in Practice student Lilly Frances Beards’ body of work Unmask, Decrypt, which draws on the historical connections between weaving and coding and combines textiles with digital technology and coding to talk about autistic experience in a digital age.
Lilly explained: “I have explored my own experience of identifying as autistic and I hope to draw attention to what it means to be autistic and an autistic artist in a digital age through my work. My work is based on the idea of a computer glitch, and how being part of a marginalised community can be seen as a glitch but actually there’s a feeling of liberation and a beauty in this difference.”
Meanwhile BA (Hons) Product Design and Craft student Niamh Grimes’ intricate jewellery designs explore her Irish heritage and utilise metal casting to reimagine the stories and Irish folk customs of the past.
Speaking about her designs, Niamh said: “My work is inspired by my Irish heritage and memories of visiting my grandparents over there as a child. They followed many of the old Catholic traditions and I noticed they kept small vials of anointed oils around the house. I love that idea of using totems as a way to keep yourself safe.
“I’ve reimagined old protective customs in my work, like the vial and the salt crystals, which reference the way Irish people used to keep salt on their person as a way to protect themselves from the fairies.”
Visitors are welcomed into the exhibition by a series of striking large scale works by design students displayed in the Vertical Gallery, situated in the entrance to Benzie building. Students were invited to pitch and create work for the large scale space, with 20 students selected to showcase their work.
Highlights include BA (Hons) Graphic Design student Lisa Cachapela da Silva’s work Broke Breakout exploring the lowest vs highest earners hierarchy within the cost of living crisis.
Speaking about her work, Lisa Cachapela da Silva said: “My piece has taken inspiration from the cost of living crisis and follows on from my editorial project the Little Book of Hierarchies. I have explored the different hierarchies of the cost of living crisis, comparing the highest earners to the lowest earners on the scale.
“Aesthetically, I was inspired by the game Breakout and visualised the scale using 3D boxes to symbolise how ‘breaking out’ of the situation is much harder if you have more bricks to break through. I hope to raise awareness about the impact of the cost of living through my work.”
Elsewhere, fellow BA (Hons) Product and Craft student Martha Wiles’ ceramic trophies celebrate organisations that work to reduce, educate, and empower communities to fight against food waste – taking inspiration from her work with local urban farming collective Manchester Urban Diggers, Milk and Honey Café, and food charity Peacemeal.
With a history spanning more than 185 years, Manchester School of Art has seen many graduates go on to become recognisable names both nationally and internationally including L.S. Lowry, Peter Saville, Martin Parr, and Ryan Gander.
Professor Martyn Evans, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Arts and Humanities said: “Without doubt, the School of Art degree show is my favourite time of the year in the university calendar. Over the last few weeks I have seen the energy, commitment and out and out passion of our students and staff come to fruition in what is an incredible festival of creativity.
“I first attended the degree show in Manchester School of Art in 1997 and it still fills me with the same excitement, and now pride, it always has. Congratulations Class of 2023, you have done yourselves proud!”