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Is it a bird. is it an ironing board?

All is not as it seems in the fine art exhibition of Staffordshire University’s Art and Design degree show.

Among this year’s Show and Tell exhibits are a collection of hybrid forms which have been constructed from wood and recycled materials by fine artist Jade Simpson.

The sculptures which are suggestive of animals in the natural world stand up to 12 feet high, one resembling a pterodactyl is suspended in flight from the ceiling while others are grouped as if encased in a museum. 

Entitled The Spirit Collection, these imposing forms are accompanied by a range of Gouache sketches and animal sounds recorded by Jade and then distorted by a synthesiser.

Jade, 20, who previously studied at Newcastle-under-Lyme College said: “I’ve always loved natural history and museums and I’m a big David Attenborough fan. I’ve definitely enjoyed my final year and finally found out how to loosen up. I’d like to start doing residencies working as a full time artist and to get jobs in museums.”

Fellow fine artist Lisa-Marie Williams has created a series of sculptures which use unorthodox materials like human hair, recycled clothing and cotton and which are positioned with household furniture - broken coffee tables and ironing boards - to display ‘situations’ that visually express emotional states.

She said: “I was inspired by the personal accounts and experiences of a group of mental health patients. From information gathered during weekly visits to the group, I was able to pick out the most potent emotional conditions and express them through the posture and behaviour of my sculptures. The resemblance of nylon tights to human skin has made the sculptures seem more organic than they really are.”

Performance art will play a part in this year’s Show and Tell which opens on Friday June 13 and which is open to the public from Saturday June 14 to Saturday June 21.

Arron Lindsay’s fencing performance will expose the differences between a sport known for its rigid rules of engagement and boundaries and social media where few boundaries appear to exist.

Another third year student Sarah Thorley has made University housekeepers the subject of a series of photographic portraits. She will also be using a vacuum cleaner as performance art and to question the politics of labour.

Kitsch and consumerism are also themes running through the degree show. Jayne Candlin elevates the status of ornaments through a series of paintings on canvas. Meanwhile Corey Whyte presents a scene of Christmas carnage complete with mutated inflatable decorations to highlight a throw-away society.

Continuing the theme, Charmaine Small has worked on a graveyard of signage, evocative of an era in American history and commodity culture which has since collapsed to be replaced by another.

Show and Tell 2014 will feature the work of more than 300 Art and Design students from 20 courses including photography, crafts, graphics, animation and surface pattern.

Opening times: Saturday June 14: 10am-5pm, Sunday June 15: 11am-4pm, Monday June 16: 10am-8pm, Tuesday June 17: 10am-6pm, Wednesday June 18: 10am-8pm, Thursday June 19: 10am-6pm, Friday June 20: 10am-6pm, Saturday June 21: 11am-4pm (Show closes).


  • Date published: 09th June 2014
  • Written by: Elizabeth Savage



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