Barclays showcases talented artists from Arts University Plymouth
Barclays on Armada Way in central Plymouth is the setting for an exhibition of work by some of the most exciting emerging artists in the region. Staff from Barclays selected original work by eight MA students and graduates from Arts University Plymouth, as part of an ongoing collaboration between the arts university and city centre bank that began in 2021 as part of the IGNITE Festival of Creativity.
Work by the artists can be seen printed on large-scale vinyl wraparounds that decorate pillars in public areas of the branch. David Podd from Barclays led the selection of work by artists, comprising: Masters in Illustration students Julia Hill, Sunny Wu and Naomi Batts; Masters in Painting students Victoria Mardon and David Fletcher, and Masters in Painting graduate Alice Simpson; Masters in Ceramics graduate Christina Oldfield; and Masters in Photography student Stephanie Darkes.
David Podd said: “We are delighted to be supporting talented artists in the region by providing a platform to showcase their work with our customers, colleagues, local employers and a wider audience.”
This is the third time since the summer of 2021 that creative work by Arts University Plymouth students and graduates has been printed at large scale to display in public areas of Barclays Plymouth.
MA Illustration student Sunny Wu said: “As an illustrator, having my art displayed in Barclays is such a wonderful achievement for me. This piece is more or less a self portrait of myself, as an Asian-American, walking in New York City, and having that experience being projected into a space in England feels bittersweet, as if I'm carrying that part of my story here. I hope to continue to work as a freelance illustrator and incorporating bits of my life abroad in my work.”
MA Painting graduate Alice Simpson said: “It is fantastic to have the opportunity to display my work in such a prominent place in Plymouth. My work is about colour relationships and how these can be translated to represent human connections. Since graduating I have been working as an art teacher and I have also taken part in a couple of exhibitions in Plymouth. I have also been invited to display my work in Exeter in spring 2023.”
MA Illustration student Naomi Batts said: “The opportunity to have a piece of my work that has such significant meaning to me and my current postgraduate research is fantastic. My practice focuses on correspondence through illustrative processes and methods, particularly looking at how I can reconnect with my inner self. Hopefully it also connects with the people who see it, even if it is for just a moment in their busy routines.”
MA Illustration student Julia Hill said: “As a Devon-based illustrator, I have been working in black and white using fineliners for nearly 35 years. The natural world, wildlife and the environment form the basis of all the work I do. My MA has taken me on a new journey into ceramics using my practice to highlight environmental issues I am passionate about.”
MA Painting student Victoria Mardon said: “I love how Barclays have incorporated art from the local community into their high street branch, and I'm thrilled to have my painting chosen as one of the artworks. I was fascinated to see it reproduced on such a large scale. It has inspired me to create some colourful geometric paintings on a much larger canvas!"
MA Photography student Stephanie Darkes said: “My practice explores cold water, mental health and photography. Living close to the sea and the moors has allowed me to explore wild swimming, the clusters of people who meet to swim or dip together, and the reasons why they swim. The picture displayed in Barclays was shot on a Devon beach at sunrise. For me it is an image that really captures the joy of wild swimming.”
Stephanie is currently taking a break from her studies, with plans to return in September to complete her MA.
MA Ceramics graduate Christina Oldfield said: “My work is highly decorative, reflecting my previous experience as a printed textile designer. I enjoy layering pattern, texture, and colour to create individual, hand built, narrative pieces. I work mostly with stoneware clay, which I texture and draw into and then colour with slips and underglazes, I finish the pieces with transparent glaze and metallic lustres.”
“The work I produced for my MA final project was a response to the narratives of trade and migration. It was a personal reflection on my own family’s history in Colonial India. The ceramic wall sconces are in essence shrines to the memory of my ancestors. My decorative schemes draw on motifs that have travelled along the ancient trade routes from East to West, most particularly the ogee shape and Paisley pattern. The shrines are adorned with small, free-standing sculptures, my mother’s ancient teddy bear appears in several works, he forms a poignant emotional connection between us and stands as a symbol of her Indian childhood.”
“Since completing my MA, I have continued to use these decorative motifs to build more functional pieces such as small bowls and dishes. I was a Primary school teacher for 30 years and have recently worked in a Primary school again, helping the school resurrect their redundant kiln and leading workshops and teaching ceramic hand-building skills to the staff and pupils.”
Professor Stephen Felmingham, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic) at Arts University Plymouth, said: “It is great to see the excellent outcomes achieved during the IGNITE Festival of Creativity going from strength to strength with Barclays, a key business partner in the city for us. Building on this mutually supportive working relationship means more opportunity for our students and graduates to showcase their work to the city community with high quality creative work, and more opportunities to stay and contribute to Plymouth's burgeoning cultural sector.”
The artwork is on display in the main Barclays Plymouth reception area downstairs during opening hours, or can also be seen through the windows on Armada Way in central Plymouth.
To find out more about undergraduate or postgraduate-level study at Arts University Plymouth, the number one arts university in the UK for student satisfaction in the NSS 2022, visit the next Open Day on Saturday 11 March 2023.