Fine Art

Thank you for taking time to visit the online Fine Art shows. The work that you can see is testament to the incredible resilience, adaptability and not least creativity of a brilliant year group.

Many of these students, being in their early 20’s, are part of a generation that has been dismissed as ‘snowflakes’ by the popular media, said to melt in the face of challenges and accused of being unable to deal with change. But they have worked through the strangest of years, one which saw their studies and their time in the art school studios and workshops abruptly interrupted. Established plans had to change and the certainties which every post war generation have enjoyed suddenly evaporated. The art school closed its doors and students left hurriedly taking as much as they could to set up makeshift studios wherever possible. Laptops, kitchen tables, garages, bedrooms, sheds, and gardens were amongst the spaces utilised as their new ateliers. Face to face contact ended and tutorials were carried out on the internet or by telephone. Many had to move home and the peer support which is so vital in any normal year dissipated. The end goal of their degree shows which is the traditional culmination and celebration of three years of study was moved online along with the assessments. Approaches to making were adapted, improvised, and reinvented. Students found new ways of working and utilised their honed creative thinking and making skills to find new ways of presenting their work. They often had to balance their home life with work or other commitments, while some lost employment and had to cope with the associated financial hardship, all during a period in which the world changed them around them. Yet they found a focus and made beautiful, surprising, sensitive, challenging, intelligent, and thought-provoking work. They explored ways of presenting this through exhibition proposals employing ingenious approaches to communicate their ideas.

The results are quite brilliant and fill me with confidence that this generation of student artists are as ready as if not more so than any before them to graduate in to an uncertain world. Moreover, that Fine Art graduates, far from being the unemployable caricature that they are often confronted with, are shining examples of the adaptable and resilient creative problem solvers that we need now more than ever. So please take some time as you look at this website and to reflect not just on the work but what a remarkable achievement it is too. 

I want to express my deep gratitude to all of the students for the maturity with which they have approached making this work and for the support they have given each other and the staff team over these past few months. I also want to thank all the staff who have helped the students during their time on the course. Not just the lecturers but the student support team, the facilities staff, the programmes team, our colleagues across the department of Art and Performance and beyond, and the incredible technical team all of whom go above and beyond what is expected of them in normal times and have done so even more in lockdown. They make Manchester School of Art a very special place to work or study. Not being on campus has only reinforced the understanding that the Art School is so much more than the buildings that house it.

I hope that you will be able to join us when we welcome these students back to the art school to exhibit their work once it is safe to do so and take the opportunity to congratulate them all in person.

Magnus Quaife

Programme Leader, Fine Art BA (Hons)

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