Staffs Uni welcomes public onto campus for annual Degree Show

Staffordshire University is inviting the community on to campus to view the work of more than 300 Art, Design and Media students

Shards of pottery from Jenny Richardson's exhibit

Jenny Richardson's work pay homage to her great-grandfather

The annual event showcases the final year work of students from a variety of creative subjects, ranging from Animation and Architecture to Film Production and Sound Design.

Fine Art students have taken over the Cadman Gallery to exhibit an eclectic collection of work including sculpture, ceramics, paintings and art installations.

Chloe Egerton’s exhibit commemorates the 40th anniversary of the miner’s strike. 68 crocheted blankets adorn a wall in the gallery, each bearing the name of a mine that closed during in the 1980s strikes. After Chloe learned to crochet last year, each blanket on average six hours to make.

Chole, 22, from Winsford commented: “I previously did a photography series at Hanley deep pit and also went on a tour of the mine at Apedale Heritage Centre. It’s all run by volunteers and I just thought that the sense of community was really amazing. 40 years on, the Staffordshire mining community still have meetings and are still supporting each other.”

Jenny Richardson also draws on local heritage and she has created a piece which pays homage to her great-grandfather who died in 1940.

The 58-year-old from Cheadle explained: “I’ve got a big interest in genealogy and looking at the family archives. I discovered my great-grandad, Walter Jervis ,and when I asked my family about him there was a bit of a hush. It turned out that he had committed suicide.”

Jenny discovered that Walter sang in pubs and she has created a ceramic model of his local the ‘Highland Laddie’ that once stood in Wellington Street in Hanely. Renamed ‘The Corporal Jervis’ in her grandad’s honour, the front of the building looks intact but behind the back is shards of broken pottery, some featuring photos of Walter’s wife and child and the music he may have sung.

“When I looked into his history I found out that Walter was a machine gunner at the Battle of the Somme where 60,000 men died on the first day, so he would have seen dreadful things. He also lost his wife and child.

“Really, the piece is about how people judge others by how they look. My great-grandad had been into hospital and been okayed but clearly he wasn’t alright. Nowadays, he would probably be diagnosed with PTSD.”

Ricky Chen, 21, from London has created an origami solar system of intricately crafted paper planets. The project is based on the ancient Japanese culture of kusudama balls which contained medicinal herbs to relieve sickness.

He explained: “The ancient traditions of hanging up kusudama herbs was lost but more recently it has evolved into origami flowers. I wanted to use that idea and connect Japanese culture with current day modern origami forms.”

The paper spheres are adorned with detailed flower decorations reflecting each planet’s god. Constructing the planets was a painstaking process with the largest taking Ricky a month to complete.

Karl Webster is bringing the outdoors into the gallery with a ceramic replica of the Roaches stones and abstract paintings of the local landmark. Lauren Heath was also inspired by nature and has created an indoor garden installation complete with tree branches, soil, living plants and a replica pond. She has also recreated animal habitats including a wasp hive, bird nest and spider nest.

Lauren plans to give the plants away once the exhibition finishes and will return the natural materials collected from her own garden and around campus.

The 22-year-old from Longton said: “I tried to use as many natural materials as I could during this installation because my whole practice is about the environment and sustainability.

“I wanted to bring the outdoors indoors to blur the lines of outside and inside that we have created, especially in the traditional gallery space. My intention is for it to be quite a shock because people don’t expect a hillside with plants to be thriving inside!

“I hope it will help visitors to the exhibition see nature in a different way. Often these plants are overlooked day-to-day but they all play a vital part in the ecosystem and provide something for the planet, no matter how small the insect is or how insignificant you think a weed is.”

Staffordshire University's Degree Show is open to the public from Saturday 1 to Saturday 8 June 2024.

The show is located on the College Road site, just around the corner from Stoke-on-Trent railway station. Car parking for the is available on the Leek Road site (ST4 DF).


Jenny Richardson

Chloe Egerton

Ricky Chen

Karl Webster

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