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Arts students bring colour, vision and vibrance to campus for end of year shows 

Published: 28 May 2024

  •   Featured
Two students view a large design work

Work on show by Lee Oakley

From sculpture to photography, graphic design to animation: York St John University is proud to welcome friends, family and members of the public to the Art and Design Degree Show Exhibitions 2024. 

The Art Degree Show featured sixty exhibiting artists across Fine Art, Photography and Illustration. Work will be on show across the main University campus on Lord Mayor's Walk in York, including in the striking Quad South Foyer and the award-winning Creative Centre.  

The Art Degree Show launches in style with the Reignite IV event: The Next Generation, where a VIP audience will have a chance to view the work and meet our emerging artists. The evening will also feature presentations from York St John graduates who have gone on to work for global organisations 

Reignite is an ambition and vision for the city to leverage its UNESCO Media Arts designation to attract inward investment, develop educational pathways, retain graduates, create more jobs, and quantify the economic impact of the sector on the wider economy of York. It’s supported by York St John University, Aesthetica, City of York Council, UKSPF, York BID, and Viridian FX. 

Helen Turner, Associate Head: Art, York St John University said: “This year we urge you to come and lose yourself in the fantastic creative works of our students. We’re so proud of what they’ve achieved as they’ve journeyed with us to become the artists they are today.  

“This year’s Degree Show marks the close of study whilst simultaneously opening new doors and hosting the Reignite event to launch the 2024 show is a real privilege. It offers a fantastic opportunity for our students as they step into the art world and begin their careers as the next generation of creative talent. My thanks to our partners for their vision and support with the event.” 

The following week sees the launch of York St John’s ambitious and inspirational Design Degree Show which features engaging work from over a hundred new designers across animation, games design, graphic design, interior design, and product design. The Design students strike a balance between innovative designs, artistic merit and easy practical application, seeking to solve problems and improve the world around us.  The show is open daily from Monday 10 June to Wednesday 13 June, from 10.00am to 4.00pm.

Simon Harrison, Associate Head: Design, York St John University said: “The Design Degree Show is more than an exhibition; it's a celebration of creativity, innovation, and the future of design.  

“We are proud to invite you to explore the innovative and creative talents of our graduating students from the fields of Animation, Games Design, Graphic Design, Interior Design, and Product Design. This show is a culmination of 3 years of hard work, dedication, and passion, reflecting the diverse skills and imagination of our students. 

 “Our students have explored their work from social, cultural, and environmental perspectives, consistently considering how their practice can have a positive impact on people’s lives and experiences.”  

This year’s Degree Shows sit within the wider School of the Arts Festival 2024 which sees hundreds of students across subject areas showcase their work with performances, screenings, workshops and exhibitions. The Festival began with Performance Takeover events and culminates in a series of awards nights to celebrate the work of our fantastic artists.  

Helen Minors, Head of School of the Arts said: “This year’s School of the Arts Festival is a fantastic showcase of our makers, designers, creators and performers, as the Class of 2024 impress with their talent and ambition.  

“This diverse body of work represents a year where students have been developing their own individual creative voices, working with live briefs from industry and working in collaboration with each other and with visiting artists. 

“The Degree Shows are such a highlight of the Festival and I’d urge you to come to campus and immerse yourself in the creativity on show.” 

View the full Festival programme and Degree Show opening information 


Thoughts from our student exhibitors:

I am thrilled to be part of the Photography 2024 Degree Show, marking the end of my three years at York St John University. It has been rewarding to see my hard work pay off. Preparing for the Degree Show and collaborating with my peers to create and exhibition that reflects all our efforts has been an exciting experience.  My exhibition ‘Through Her Eyes’, celebrates the portrayal of femininity expressed by a diverse range of women. I used an experimental technique of layering flowers over the portraits I’ve taken to interpret this theme. Zoe Green - Photography  

It has been a real privilege studying graphic design at York St John, especially coming back into education as a mature student. Learning the principles of what makes good graphic design has been instrumental in my growth, allowing me to put these principles into practice effectively. This is helped by the brilliant staff in the design faculty, who create a welcoming environment and are always on hand to offer support. As well as developing my skills the course has provided invaluable opportunities, such as showing work to industry professionals and working on live briefs. I feel extremely lucky to have been given the chance to study here at YSJ, I started off as a student and truly feel I am leaving as a designer. Fiona Rowntree - Graphic Design   

Studying graphic design at York St John University has given me many opportunities such as working with an abundance of live clients and meeting industry professionals. My favourite aspect of the course has been the encouragement we gain from tutors and fellow classmates. Having a small class size it gave us the opportunity to share and discuss work each week, this allows me to gain experience in not only critiquing others designs but also speaking confidently about my own. One aspect of the course I particularly enjoyed was the collaboration projects, this allows me to think critically about design as a whole, and how my designs function within an entire concept with all cohorts in mind. I have concentrated concepts in third year through commercial approaches, on projects such as re-branding the Isle of White festival and the grand Pavilion Matlock bath. I aim on ensuring each brand concept is well thought through, representing the individual companies. Libby Mowle - Graphic Design  

I have really enjoyed the Product Design course, in particular I have learnt a lot by developing my practical skills in the workshop with the help and support of the technical team! I have enjoyed the variety of projects throughout the course. It has allowed me to experiment with different ideas, with guidance from our lecturers, and discover the specific areas of product design that I am interested in. Evelyn Dearlove - Product Design  

York St John University has allowed me to further explore and experiment with graphic design, sparking an interest in animation and illustration. I’ve appreciated the freedom to delve into our interests and the support whilst working on each brief. I’ve enjoyed the many opportunities that have been presented to us including undertaking exterior real-world briefs from client projects to design awards such as the RSA and D&AD briefs gaining experience and helping to prepare us for life after graduation. Jen Lee - Graphic Design  

Being part of the Degree Show feels like a rewarding conclusion to my studies at York St John. I am so excited for the opportunity to showcase my practice in such a supportive environment and among such an inspiring group of students. The work I am exhibiting is an installation of woven stones and knitted textiles, which act as an encoding of data in physical space. Tom Hardwick - Fine Art

It feels so special to be able to exhibit alongside such a talented and thoughtful group of artists and to have seen their work develop so much throughout the last three years. My piece ‘This is heavy and I heard you have space’ is a collage installation of around 2000 photographic prints. Joining me in the work are seven fellow students who I’ve had the joy of photographing in a range of unconventional poses. The work seeks to demonstrate the overwhelming nature of experiencing our bodies as they reshape and change. Lee Oakley - Fine Art

For the past year, I have been photographing behind closed doors observing the public’s dinner time rituals. I am ecstatic to have the space to be able to express my creativity and hard work. The degree show exhibition also represents the culmination of all our studies and a chance to reflect on how far we’ve come, while allowing us the time to celebrate such an important milestone together. Phoebe Donbavand - Photography

Congratulations to this year's prize winners

  • FINE ART Practice Award 2024 - ART HAPPENS HERE Residency    Lucy Farrar
  • FINE ART Practice Award 2024 - AXIS web Tom Hardwick
  • FINE ART Practice Award 2024 - AXIS web Lee Oakley
  • FINE ART - Dissertation Award 2024  Tom Hardwick
  • ILLUSTRATION - Dissertation Award 2024 Hannah Nowell
  • ILLUSTRATION  Practice Award 2024  - Thought Bubble  Grace Rowley-Evans
  • ILLUSTRATION  Practice Award 2024 - Association of Illustrators Max Lennon
  • ILLUSTRATION  Practice Award 2024 - Association of Illustrators  Natalie Smith
  • PHOTOGRAPHY Dissertation Award 2024 Phoebe Donbavand
  • PHOTOGRAPHY Practice Award 2024 The Association of Photographers  Lianna Charlesworth
  • PHOTOGRAPHY Practice Award 2024 The Association of Photographers  Elissa Kinnersley
  • AESTHETICA  Next Generation Award 2024 Zoe Green  (Photography BA)
  • CHRYSALIS ARTS DEVELOPMENT  Ecological Practice Award 2024  Diane Holt (Photography MFA)

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