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News article

York St John University hosts its first ever Virtual Art & Design Degree Show

Published: 09 June 2020

2 women against a black background

Image by Rohini Jones, winner of the Aesthetica York St John Award 2020

York St John University’s Art and Design students have brought positivity and flair to the summer of 2020 with their virtual degree show. For the last three years, they have studied within their respective disciplines; animation, fine art, furniture design, games design, graphic design, illustration, interior design, photography, and product design. Now, this next generation of creatives have pushed through the physical constraints of exhibiting in 2020, and come together for a unique online showcase. 

Fine Art, Illustration and Photography students have had work published by Aesthetica in an online showcase, with a curation of pieces featured in the June 2020 edition of the Aesthetica Magazine. A gallery of Design Pages is showcasing the work of Animation, Furniture Design,  Games Design, Graphic Design, Interior Design and Product Design students. The work of Photography students has also been published in Source - 'thinking through photography' - as part of their 'Graduate Photography Online'

The quality of student work displayed across this variety of platforms is testament to the time, effort and energy that students and staff have invested over the past few months of collective uncertainty, and the foundation of their previous years of working together. 

Professor Karen Bryan OBE, Vice Chancellor of York St John University said: “In developing this year’s degree show the students have pioneered something fresh and contemporary that the University and wider community can share in and celebrate. The way they have successfully taken their show online shows determination, flexibility and resourcefulness. Although I would’ve loved to see the work in person and to have been able to talk them about their ideas and inspirations, I’m extremely proud of each and every one of them for what they have achieved.” 

To reach this point the students have overcome challenges, not least the move to a new virtual world away from their studios, and have experienced a thought-provoking and creative journey.  

York St John’s Associate Head of Design Simon Harrison said: “The students have displayed tremendous creativity and resilience throughout their three years with us, but never more so than over the past few months. I know it will serve them incredibly well for their progression into the creative industries. We are all immensely proud of them.” 

The winners of the Art and Design Industry and University Awards 2020 were announced to students in a virtual celebration on Friday 5 June. Chrysalis Arts, Aesthetica Magazine, Pentland Brands, Field Spatial Interior Design and Fettle Animation were among the organisations supporting the awards. 

Cherie Federico, Director and Editor at Aesthetica Magazine said: “The world was complicated before Covid-19. We had the rise of populism; we have the climate crisis. All the things that people probably don’t want to be reminded of, they still exist. And then we have this layer on top of that. But there is hope and that hope is the next generation. They are the talent that will help see us through this. They are the inspiration; they are the light. I’m so thrilled that they are making work and are continuing, resilient and strong. I will forever be in admiration of the Class of 2020. A new narrative needs to be written and they are the people who will write it.”


Full details of all the award winners are as follows:



Student Winner

Presenter/Awarding Organisation

Art Dissertation Award 2020

Natasha Alexander

York St John University

Chrysalis Arts Award 2020

Grace Jones and Phoebe Reed as JR2

Rick Faulkner, Executive Director at Chrysalis Arts

Illustration Practice Award 2020

Sarah Fenneran

York St John University

Aesthetica York St John Award 2020

Rohini Jones

Cherie Federico, Director and Editor at Aesthetica Magazine

Graphic Design Award 2020

Nick Jones 

Rob Walker, Founder of Signs by Umberto

Product Design Award 2020

Jake Joynson, Span Project

Chris Johnson, Head of Design at Speedo, (Industrial Design Lead at Pentland Brands)

Interior Design Award 2020

Millie Thompson, Serenity Project

Sam Tucker, Creative at Field Spatial Interior Design

Games Design Award 2020 (Professional Game Design and Presentation)

Thomas White

Heather Stevens, Freelance Game/Level Designer and Artist

Animation Design Award 2020

Katie-Marie George

Kath Shackleton, Producer at Fettle Animation

Design Research Award 2020

Bronte Rockliff 

York St John University


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