Students AMAZE at Art and Design show

Photos of student work: pencil portraits by Behjat Omer Abdulla, plus digitally replaced works at Sudbury Hall by Richard Tungate.

A DEAF student is challenging the supremacy of speech over sign language with her artwork at this year’s Staffordshire University Art and Design degree show.

The annual exhibition also includes work from an Iraqi student who completed his degree whilst trying to establish his citizenship and working as a translator.

Film, 3D design, surface pattern and textiles, photography, graphics and illustration, product design and advertising are just some of the disciplines on show at AMAZE 2010.

In total more than 300 students on 20 BA(Hons) awards will be showcasing their work during the seven day exhibition. It is open to the public from Saturday, June 12.

One student, Linda Bagnall, 45, from Stafford, studied BA(Hons) Fine Art. She said: “I was born deaf so my art is about sound and talking and my experience of that.”

In an sculptural arrangement of large pebbles, Linda’s project is set out in the shape of a mouth and lips while also resembling a landscape.

“I didn’t know that gravel makes lots of different sounds when you walk on it and when I did research I found that leaves had a sound as well and I thought ‘wow’, that’s so interesting – so my art is about that,” she said. “I’ve learnt a lot from my course. It has changed my life completely.”

Behjat Omer Abdulla, 34, is originally from Kurdistan/Iraq, where he gained a diploma from Sulaimaniah Institute of Fine Art. After coming to the UK in 1999, he undertook an undergraduate degree in Fine Art, completing it part-time over the past six years, whilst working as a translator and trying to gain citizenship.

His project – a series of pencil portraits of asylum seekers taken from ID style photos – is a reflection of his experience of living in the UK.

Behjat said: “This project has allowed me to deal with things that I had avoided talking about for a long time. The subjects are people who live in a state of constant uncertainty, an ambiguous period of wait and an intermediate state, being caught in an undefined time. Now in each one of my drawings I see the struggle and it makes it more visible all around me.”

And Richard Tungate, from Uttoxeter, has produced a large scale photograph – using 36 separate images totaling 540 million pixels – of one of the rooms at the National Trust owned Sudbury Hall, where he digitally replaced works by Caravaggio and Rembrandt with modern day equivalents.

Dr Helen Chapman, Director of Portfolio, Planning and Partnership said: “The show demonstrates the students’ talents and skills in a diverse range of awards and, once again, the quality of the work presented at this year’s show is a credit to our graduating students. We anticipate that they will go on to achieve great success in their chosen careers.”

On Friday, June 11, AMAZE 2010 will officially open with a private viewing. The show will be open to the public on:

  • Saturday 12, Sunday 13 and Saturday 19 June, from 11am - 4pm.
  • Monday 14 and Wednesday 16 June, from 10am - 8pm.
  • Tuesday 15, Thursday 17 and Friday 18 June, from 10am - 6pm.

The show is located on the College Road Campus, Staffordshire University, near the Stoke-on-Trent railway station. Everyone is welcome to come and have a look around and selected works can also be viewed at


Maria Scrivens
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