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The Department of Art and Design has been showcasing the work of its first year students in an end of year exhibition for the last five years. This usually takes place at the Creative Campus Kingsway, where seminar rooms, studio spaces, corridors and sometimes even store rooms, are transformed into gallery spaces to celebrate the progress of students on courses from Fashion Design, Fashion Marketing and Communication, Fine Art, Graphic Design, Interior Design, Photography and Product Design.

This year’s students were looking forward to the change of venue to the Department’s new Contemporary Art Space [CASC] city centre gallery, in the Forum Shopping Centre, to be enjoyed by a wider audience, but this has been cancelled due to the pandemic. A talented team of Technician Demonstrators and academic staff started to look for alternative ways they could still celebrate these achievements and share them with as many people as possible.

The Department has for some time been researching virtual reality and augmented reality and developing opportunities for their students to explore these platforms in their creative work. It was a logical conclusion to build their own virtual gallery space and to present their students’ work on an online platform, accessible through the CASC Gallery website.

The Chester city centre CASC Gallery has been rebuilt in a virtual space and visitors from across the globe can now visit a replica of the gallery from the comfort of their own home and can observe social distancing, while exploring this fantastic range of creative work.

Despite the lockdown causing the Campus to close its doors physically, staff at the Department have been impressed with how the students have continued to engage in their creative work and have shown amazing resilience in adapting to their new situations.

A poster to promote the exhibition has been designed by Maddie Humphries, a student on the Combined Honours BA Graphic Design and Photography programme, with Andrew Hooper, Programme Leader for Graphic Design.

Maddie said: “I really enjoyed the whole design process - experimenting with abstract styles and collaborating with Andrew. It was good work experience creating alongside a senior designer! I also loved seeing how our different art styles combined to produce great results in the final poster. Collaboration is something I’ve really enjoyed about studying in Chester this year. In class and across courses, we often work together as a team. It makes our work so much more rewarding and teaches lots of skills we’ll need as designers of the future.”

Andrew added: I'm keen for the wider world to be able to appreciate the hard work of our first year students. It is our first online exhibition using the CASC site and a 3D environment and the lockdown situation has made us approach the dissemination of work in very new ways.”

Head of Department for Art and Design, Associate Professor Bernadine Murray, said: “All the staff from the Department have been overwhelmed by the determination of our students. They have truly shown what great creative minds they have. Their commitment to their studies and their passion for their subjects has resulted in a fabulous collection of work.

“I am sure you will agree, when you visit this exhibition, that the potential of these students is boundless and to consider, they are just at the start of their journey! My colleagues and I are excited to continue supporting and nurturing their creative curiosity through their remaining time at the University of Chester.”  

You can access the First Year Show in the virtual CASC Gallery, from 6pm on June 4, 2020, by logging onto - download the package and walk through the gallery and experience the art and design work, without stepping outside your door. 

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