Countdown to Staffordshire University’s Degree Show 2023!

Staffordshire University is gearing up for its annual Degree Show which opens this Friday

Maddie Hughes pictured with the work

Maddie Hughes has created a collection of striking images based around an eccentric family

The exhibition runs from Friday 2 June to Saturday 10 June and showcases the final year work of more than 300 students across Art, Design, Media and Performance courses.

Hosted across Staffordshire University’s College Road site in Stoke-on-Trent, entry to the Degree Show is free and members of the public are encouraged to come along.

Among the exhibitors is Illustration student Orla Fielder who has drawn on her childhood experiences for a personal project. Aged ten, Orla was diagnosed with leukemia and has developed a picture book which aims to help educate children about cancer treatment.

‘Posie Rosy Cheeks’ follows a young girl on her journey of intensive cancer treatment and eventually going back to school.

Orla, 20, from Eccleshall, said: “It is such a difficult subject to talk about, not just for children but for adults too. I hope this book will really connect with children experiencing cancer and make it a little bit easier.

“A lot of the book is inspired by my own experiences, and I’ve found the process quite healing. When you are on steroids during treatment your cheeks often get very red and swollen – hence the name Posie Rosy Cheeks. Posie also has a crazy hat collection which is something I did to cope with the loss of hair and feeling different from friends.”

After graduating, Orla hopes to publish the book and plans to gift it to local charities supporting children at Royal Stoke Hospital’s oncology unit where she was treated.

In the Henrion Gallery, hangs series of photographs by Rebecca Rushton which also explore recovery from serious illness. This project showcases the life of stroke survivor Kate, and that disability does not have to be debilitating.

Rebecca, 21, from Silverdale, explained: “I’ve always been interested in photographing people, telling their stories, and capturing their best moments. Kate has suffered two strokes, has battled cancer and Covid. But she is the liveliest person you’ll ever meet! She is so inspirational to me.”

Including framed images and a photobook, the photographs represent Kate’s life both prior to and after her strokes. Rebecca said: “I wanted these photographs show Kate as more than just her disability and being in a wheelchair. She has a personality and goals and a life that’s been lived.”

Another wall is adorned by six striking images by Maddie Hughes. Her quirky collection of photos ‘Hobby House’ is centred around an eccentric family and was shot in locations including a friend’s kitchen and an abandoned farmhouse.

Inspired by cinema and fashion, the six scenes reflect a different family member’s interest – from cooking to music and gardening – and wouldn’t seem out of place in a Wes Anderson film.

The 20-year-old from Upper Longdon explained: “Each character is shown in their own domain and allows the viewer to journey through each room and learn about the characters in the way they are shot and staged.”

Alongside her studies Maddie has been working at Stafford Gatehouse Theatre – where she has photographed comedians Danny Baker and Tom Allen, drag shows and youth performances.

Maddie’s love of the theatre is evident in her work. Each carefully curated composition has a distinct colour pallet and features an array of props that Maddie collected from eBay and charity shops. In one, we see a tortured artist surrounded by jars of paint and canvases strewn around the room. Another shows the family engineer in the garage with an extensive collection of tools neatly displayed on the walls.

She added: “I like to express myself with props and costumes and using location lighting in different ways. The technical team at the uni have been a massive help with learning how to do that and putting it all together in post-production.”

The Degree Show is open to the public from Friday 2 June to Saturday 10 June at Staffordshire University’s College Road site in Stoke-on-Trent. See full opening times below:

  • Friday 2 June, Celebration Event at 6:30pm
  • Saturday 3 June, 10am - 5pm
  • Sunday 4 June, 10am - 5pm
  • Monday 5 June, 10am - 5pm
  • Tuesday 6 June, 10am - 5pm
  • Wednesday 7 June, 10am - 8pm
  • Thursday 8 June, 10am - 5pm
  • Friday 9 June 10am - 9pm
  • Saturday 10 June, 9am - 3pm

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