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Award-winning graduates at Arts University Plymouth’s Summer Shows 2022

Students received awards for incredible achievements during their studies in a ceremony held at Plymouth Arts Cinema

As part of the 2022 Summer Shows, the first graduate showcase for Arts University Plymouth since being awarded full university status earlier this year, staff, students and Governors gathered on campus in Plymouth Arts Cinema to celebrate the exceptional work and achievements of the graduating Class of 2022.

BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing and Printmaking graduate Chloe Sweetlove won the Board of Governors award. The aim of this award is to highlight and celebrate the achievements of a student who, in the opinion of the Board, have overcome obstacles to educational achievement, raised the profile of the university and demonstrated a significant contribution to university life.

David Noyce, Chair of the Board of Governors at Arts University Plymouth, said: “Although the quality of submissions was generally very high, the Governors were particularly impressed by Chloe’s work which indicated real achievement in the face of considerable adversity. Her art demonstrated the therapeutic power of creativity to an exceptional degree.”

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Winner of the Board of Governors award Chloe Sweetlove with David Noyce, Chair of Board of Governors at Arts University Plymouth

Chloe said: “I am so honoured to receive this award. I’d like to say thank you to my tutors Monika, Rob and Richard for their guidance and advice. I would also like to thank my grandparents Stuart and Margaret for continuing to push me out of my comfort zone and for always having my back. Lastly, I want to say a big thank you to my auntie, Sarah and her partner Christian, for always supporting me through these last few years. I have met extraordinary people and made friends for life while on this course. It’s been a bumpy road, but this award solidifies all the hard work and sleepless nights I have put into my work and has given me the motivation to continue creating.”

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Chloe Sweetlove's work

“We have such freedom to find our own paths as artists on the course. Being pushed to think for ourselves allowed us to truly find what it is we are capable of doing. Everyone has their own challenges to overcome. One of my ways of dealing with things is through my work. I get to understand and process my thoughts and feelings through the application of oil paint. I like to think of it as creating my own language through colour.”

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Chloe Sweetlove's work

Through her creative practice, Chloe explores relationships in colour, contrasts, line and shape. She wants her work to resonate with her audience and start conversations about mental health and emotion.

Speaking of her work, Chloe said: “I want to be a voice for people who have suffered and create a language for people who are unable to verbally speak their truth. I want to use my understanding of emotion and knowledge of colour to help young people understand themselves on a deeper level.”

BA (Hons) Illustration 2022 graduate Shri Gunasekara was awarded the Vice-Chancellor’s Commendation Award, a new annual award to recognise outstanding creative and academic achievement, alongside a sustained contribution to the university community, where the student has produced high quality work and made significant progress as well as making a positive contribution to their programme of study through excellent studentship.

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Arts University Plymouth Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive Professor Paul Fieldsend-Danks with the Vice Chancellor award winner Shri Gunasekara

Shri is an illustrator who specialises in sequential image-making. Her work explores family dynamics and intimacy. Shri visually shows these emotive narratives by using bold shapes and compositions, as well as vibrant colours and textures, to give her digital work an organic feel. These ideas are explored through experimental formats, testing the boundaries of picture books, graphic novels and comics. Shri’s projects are an accumulation of fun and intimate family connections through a vivid and exuberant palette of text and visual storytelling.

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Shri with her work at the 2022 Summer Shows

Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, Professor Paul Fieldsend-Danks, granted the award, saying: “Since her first year with us, Shri’s academic team describe her as being a beacon of hard work, kindness and generosity. Her creative work is truly exemplary and her hunger for learning and progression are equally exceptional. Shri has acted as a student representative for her year as a result of a student vote from her peers, despite the fact that she hadn’t put her name forward. Students nominated her because of how generous and helpful she is within the cohort.”

“Shri’s contribution to Arts University Plymouth reaches far beyond the Illustration programme and includes her excellent work as a Student Ambassador, supporting our recruitment activities. Shri’s lecturers asked me to let her know they’re not sure what they’ll do without her once she graduates. We’re so grateful for Shri’s contributions to our community and confident that because of the high quality of her work, she has a bright future ahead.”

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Shri said: “I was really shocked to find out I had won, but it’s amazing to get validation of working so hard over the last three years. I didn’t realise how much I had done. I wanted to be present in student life and the university as a whole, so I was a student representative for my course as well as a student ambassador. Those little things that you don’t have to do, but which make university life so much better.”

Sue Bown, who joined Arts University Plymouth in 2015 as part of the Extended BA cohort in BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing & Printmaking part time, won the Pro-Vice Chancellor’s Commendation Award, the first award of its kind for Arts University Plymouth.

Pro-Vice Chancellor Dr Stephen Felmingham explained: “The Pro-Vice Chancellor’s Commendation award recognises work of outstanding quality, judged on the work exhibited in the graduate shows. Sue’s paintings demonstrate a profound understanding of material, colour and form, which she employs in a series of mature and confident works. These are outstanding paintings that resonate deeply with the view and are a testament to the immense hard work she has put into her practice during the course. Sue is a thoroughly deserving winner of this award and we wish her well in her creative future.”

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Arts University Plymouth Pro-Vice Chancellor Dr Stephen Felmingham with Pro-Vice Chancellor award winner Sue Bown

Sue is a painter and printmaker whose practice is an embodied enquiry into movement and the body in space. Using gestural mark making and layering, she takes the viewer on an uplifting journey into space and place. Colour, scale and materiality are important as is the physicality of moving paint on a surface.

Sue’s latest body of work is based on geometrical shapes and colour relationships and she uses the interplay of these to amplify my message. Sue uses printmaking to inform painting and vice versa, seeking to create a hybridity between the processes. Collaboration is a strong component in her practice, where she has observed the power of creativity in breaking boundaries and forming a cohesive community.

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Sue with her work at the 2022 Summer Shows

Sue said, “When I won, I was just astonished. When I found out that the award was directly for my work, I felt really emotional and quite tearful! It was overwhelming because I have worked really hard this year. I’ve pushed myself. There are such great tutors here too. Richard Webb, who I didn’t thank heartily enough, has made a change to the approach of many of his students. We’ve had great talks through his strong network, which were thought provoking and valuable. Rob and Monika supported us so well through lockdown, when everyone was going through a shift of some description. That was quite pivotal in recognising what I was all about.”

“I’ve had an amazing time at Arts University Plymouth. The most striking thing is the inclusivity. Speaking as a mature student, I have felt on an equal footing with everyone. Whether you’re part time, full time, old, young, no matter your gender or race, everyone is equal there. The staff and the technicians are so supportive and make everything so accessible. I can only speak from my experience, but they’ve got it right.”

Also in attendance at this year’s awards ceremony was Donna Howard, Executive Director and co-founder of KARST, South West England's largest independent artist-led contemporary arts gallery and studio space.

Arts University Plymouth has a rich history of working in collaboration with KARST, which was founded in 2012 in response to British Art Show 7, to develop an artist-led space in Plymouth that could produce and show the best international contemporary art. Ten years later, Arts University Plymouth works in partnership with KARST, The Box, University of Plymouth and Plymouth Culture to deliver British Art Show 9, another exhibition of national significance and a key moment for the city. For a number of years, KARST have offered an annual Test Space for Fine Arts students to practice showcasing their work and exhibit in a professional, external environment, an opportunity that has helped a number of Arts University Plymouth graduates to establish themselves as artists in the city.

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Ashanti Hare with Arts University Plymouth Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive Professor Paul Fieldsend-Danks

At the 2022 Summer Shows, Donna Howard announced BA (Hons) Fine Art graduate Ashanti Hare as the winner of the upcoming KARST Graduate Residency, which will grant a six-month art residency at KARST studios, shared with a selected Bath Spa University graduate, allowing both artists to support each other’s development and enrich their professional practice.

Ashanti explores the duality of life as both a human being and spiritual entity. Combining digital manipulation, folk craftsmanship and writing, Hare often explores the boundaries between cultural identity and spiritual entity through sensory experiences that include tactility, scent and moving image. Their ongoing research is motivated by underlying references to pop culture, witchcraft, literature and music.

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Hare’s current research explores how colonial history, particularly in the South West, and cultural identity intersect. Spiritualism and folk practices serving as the foundation for research, Hare seeks to create a body of work that focuses on the intricacies of dual heritage, particularly how Caribbean and African spiritualism intertwines with British history.

Earlier in the month, students, staff and Governors assembled at Palace Court, Arts University Plymouth’s city-centre campus for A-Level-equivalent Level 3 Extended Diploma and Foundation Diploma in Art & Design students, to celebrate the incredible achievements of Pre-Degree students as they complete their qualifications and prepare to move on to Higher Education or to employment within the creative industries.

The Board of Governors Award - Pre-Degree for 2022, which is given to a student (or students) to highlight and celebrate the outstanding achievement of someone who has either overcome obstacles to educational achievement, raised the profile of Palace Court, or demonstrated a significant contribution to life at Palace Court, was awarded to 17-year-old UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma in Creative Practice: Graphics, Illustration & Game Arts student Kaspa Clarke, from Crediton.

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Kaspa's work, Marine Life

David Noyce, Chair of Governors at Arts University Plymouth, said: “During the course of their studies, Kaspa developed and demonstrated excellent communication skills, representing their course in the heat of the national public speaking ARTiculation competition in his first year. Kaspa also conducted exemplary professional email correspondence with clients during his second year and undertook a project to produce a public mural in the National Marine Aquarium, which is now on display at the Great Barrier Reef tank.

“Kaspa volunteered time this year to run a workshop with first-year students and returned to relay the experience of what to expect in the future, and was a key contributor to morale among the student body during a time when national Covid restrictions limited the amount of time that students were able to spend together in-person.”

The Vice-Chancellor’s Commendation recognises outstanding creative and academic achievement, alongside a sustained contribution to the Palace Court community, granted to a student who has produced high quality work, made significant progress in their studies and made a positive contribution to their programme through excellent studentship.

The Vice-Chancellor’s Commendation for 2022 was awarded to 19-year-old UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma in Creative Practice: Graphics, Illustration & Game Arts student Joanna Hamley, from Plymouth.

Professor Paul Fieldsend-Danks, Vice-Chancellor of Arts University Plymouth, said: “Joanna’s outstanding studentship during her time studying with us, alongside her exceptionally professional interior design concepts inspired by Japanese design principles, have made her a standout student and a deserving recipient of this commendation.”