The Year in Review
Marie Brennan, Leader of Postgraduate Awards
The world we live in is changing dramatically and rapidly. This means that the old way of doing things – a linear ‘siloed’ approach – has been challenged by a global pandemic. It has shown us the need to share our common humanity, with social injustice and climate change highlighting the need for further change.
As a team on our MA – staff and students – we have embraced that change. From small interventions like running sessions outdoors, to interdisciplinary ‘work from home’ events embracing the opportunities of digital learning and new technologies. Larger changes have involved us working with students to develop and build our understanding of technology and the changes this can bring to industry, such as some of the work developed on MA Curation and MA Games. Throughout all of our MA Courses, students have developed bodies of work that are located within this world of change. From looking at how everyday life operates, through to issues surrounding identity and gender, through to how language and typography affect social inclusion. We were delighted to see MA Textile Design student Megan Stavaru win the Batsford Prize for Applied Arts and Textiles 2021. A number of our Games MA students have already gone on to successful careers in the industry, and many other students have exhibited in the region – while others have been snapped up by design agencies and even consultancy work related to new technology in heritage.
Over the past year we have reflected on what stepping into this unfamiliar world means. We were challenged to reflect upon it from all angles: Sense of place, sustainability, heritage, utopia/dystopia and who we are engaging in conversation. It is easy to become fatigued by the issues we are facing, to lose heart. We explored as one student put it, ‘haptic starvation’ and how to address making in professional ways outside of the studio. We developed our international networks and have used the move to digital to invite stellar speakers from across the world.
In the past year, we have embraced change so that we do not lose heart, to explore ways we can look at our identity in this world and how we can, even in small ways, create and think in ways that generate work that is purposeful, reflective or helps us to somehow understand. In the main, throughout the eight MA courses we have built a sense of community that we could only imagine before – crossing the boundaries between enterprise, research, and creativity.
We can’t stop change happening, but we have embraced the unusual. It has been hard work, but very much worth it. We wish the students well as they progress their work beyond the MA.
Marie Brennan M.IDI FRSA