Beyond boundaries: Student House online gallery showcases artwork created at home

Jenny Bennigsen art created for Student House

An online art exhibition presented by Saltaire Arts Trail is showcasing the artwork of Bradford School of Art students created at home during the Covid-19 crisis.

Saltaire Inspired invited students to submit images of their art created despite the ongoing restrictions for Student House, an online platform launched today (22 May 2020).
Student House would have been a new addition to the Saltaire Arts Trail Open Houses Trail for 2020. Students from Bradford College’s Textiles, Visual Arts and Photography departments would have presented their work while experiencing the process of installing artwork within a Saltaire home.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic prompted organisers to reimagine this year’s Arts Trail, and instead create a mini-website enabling students to discuss the inspiration behind their work, as well as present photographs of their work installed in situ in their own homes.

Hannah Lamb, Programme Leader, Textiles & Surface Design at Bradford School of Art, said: "We were delighted when Saltaire Arts Trail contacted us about the opportunity to show student work as part of this year's trail. We have worked with the trail for a number of years and it's a great event for arts in Bradford. Even though the Arts Trail has had to move online due to Covid 19, this still represents a wonderful opportunity for our students to showcase their work to the public and gain professional experience. We are incredibly proud of all the students taking part in this year’s event."

The gallery features the work of 12 students from Bradford Schol of Art in total. They include Sarah Hulme, Ellie Taylor, Kay Carter, Kennedy Drake, Dionne Hood, Martha Madden, Jo Briscoe, Beth Menzies, Joshua Dryden, Jenny Bennigsen, Sarah Hilditch and Saira Baig.

Jenny Bennigsen's artwork consists of five textile pieces based on a patchwork pillowcase given to her as a child by her grandmother, herself a trained seamstress. She said: “The stitch lines were still strong, if random in nature, it looked as if it had been stitched at odd moments. It got me thinking about her heritage to me.”

The pieces in Jenny’s collection represent a connection to her grandmother, the first piece is made from vintage linen and incorporates a letter from her. The pieces show vignettes from the original pillowcase and represent the fading of the physical leaving only the seam lines which represent the love which passes through the generations. The final piece explores that which she wants to pass on to her own grandchildren including her Christian faith. The pieces are designed to cast shadows which show the passage of time.

Jo Briscoe’s work, "Seeing the unseen" is a collection of three woven pieces inspired by satellite photographs of the earth, particularly focusing on some images of the Bay of Bengal and the changing appearance of the Sandaban Delta with the incoming tide.

Jo said: “The cancellation of New Designers and postponement of our final exhibition in college was hugely disappointing. I feel tremendously privileged to have been given the opportunity that the 'Student House' presents to exhibit my work.”

Sarah Hilditch is a mature weaving student currently completing a part-time, distance learning HNC at Bradford College.  Her final exhibition is a collection of rugs and floor coverings, inspired by the colours and patterns seen on images taken by the Juno space probe. Her rugs are both knotted pile, using traditional Rya techniques, and woven pile using the double corduroy method.  Sarah said: "I want to use pure, local wool to create beautiful, bespoke pieces for the home, while at the same time remaining ecologically sustainable and environmentally friendly."

Ellie Taylor’s project is also a collection of embroidered textile art objects. She said: “One uses heavy-weight fabrics and denser stitching, and is based on the pavement surfaces that bracket the walk - up to the towpath and then as I approach the town centre. The other three use mostly translucent & transparent fabrics, and imply the calm that the walk brings.

“I'm so excited about being able to exhibit at Saltaire! I've been visiting Arts Trail events for a few years & I always enjoy it. When my tutor mentioned this opportunity I said 'Yes!' straight away, although I must admit I was a little nervous about whether they would want my work. Emily at Saltaire Inspired was really positive and has been so helpful.

“My collection is designed to be shown in a gallery setting but I was looking forward to the challenge of how to fit it in a house - I thought I would probably only be able to show a piece or two. As it happens, now that the Arts Trail has gone online, I don't have to pick and choose. But then online it is harder to have the little conversations with people who come to look at the work. I'm hoping that people who do take a look at the work on the student house mini website will enjoy it. It feels like a good opportunity for visitors to discover emerging artists - I know I will be having a good look at the other student work. And who knows - maybe some of us will be back next year as exhibiting artists!”

The Saltaire Arts Trail digital programme has been supported with funding from Arts Council England and Bradford Council’s Covid -19 Response grant programme. Saltaire Inspired – a registered charity – is also appealing to the public to donate the £2 they might have spent on a trail guide or Makers Fair entry, to help them through this challenging time.

Information on the full programme can be found at the Saltaire Inspired website and on social media.

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Category:  Arts and Culture