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University of the West of England news

The latest study and research news from UWE

June 2011

May 2011

April 2011

January 2011


Stars, vintage cameras and a 1940s bank robbery inspire UWE’s art students

Stargazing, a one-hundred-year-old camera and a bank robber with a sleep disorder are among the inspirations behind the University of the West of England’s 2011 Art, Design and Media Degree Show. 

The Marquess of Bath by photographer Luke ArcherThe Show takes place at the Bower Ashton Campus and Spike Island, an international contemporary art centre on Bristol’s harbourside. This year’s MA Fine Art will show at the Bristol Diving School for the first time.

The Degree Show 2011 is the culmination of years of inspiration and hard work. The free show is open to the public and is a chance to discover a new generation of artists, designers and media practitioners.

The spectacular range of inspiring and original work featured is from 15 undergraduate and postgraduate courses including Animation, Drawing and Applied Arts, Illustration, Graphic Design, Art and Visual Culture, and Media Practice.

Eight students from the Graphic Design course have been given awards for their graphic design and typography work from the prestigious International Society of Typographic Designers (ISTD).

One student, Chris Nott was awarded a commendation, the highest accolade from the society. Three other students, Joe Allison, Tom Eves and James Somerfield, will receive merit awards and will be admitted as members of the Society along with fellow UWE students Heather Kendrick, Maxim McNair, Alex Smye-Rumsby and Yan Yeh Yine who have all gained the high level of expertise needed.

Animation students Charlie Miller, Constantinos Mavromichalis, Daisy Hynes, Dane Winn and Sophie Grimwood are a like-minded group of animation students who met at the Bristol School of Animation, UWE, and have formed ‘A Foot Apart Productions’. Their most recent film is a short computer generated animation called Unorganised Crime, about a 1940s bank robber called Frankie with a sleep disorder. They have high hopes of continuing to work collaboratively in the future.

Illustration student Joe Waldron’s beautiful image of a constellation over the rooftops was inspired by the ideas of growth and development, or ‘reaching for the stars’.

He says: ‘I decided to create an image of a lone constellation searching for a brighter star in order to better itself. But I also wanted to give an aspect of wonder and curiosity to the piece which was visualised through the key, which is meant to represent the idea that we all have the capabilities inside ourselves to reach our goals.’

Art and Visual Culture student Jess Bidmead explores ideas around time, and its implications on space or use for control. She uses video and installation to create sensual effects, and altered perceptions for the viewer, aiming to engage a critical awareness around her work with moving image and to encourage thinking on universal concepts in relation to current social or political situations.

Photographer Luke Archer has taken a series entitled Inheritance, including one of the Marquess of Bath. He was inspired by a 100 year-old camera inherited from his grandfather. Luke traced its lineage back to Bassano, the famous 19th century society portraitist. The work he has produced as a result examines the notion of inheritance through photographing descendants of the titled elite first captured using this same equipment.

A building pasted with decorative wallpaper by Luke AgnewDrawing and Applied Arts student Luke Agnew has worked on a series of eye-catching temporary buildings pasted with decorative wallpaper, making them stand out from the identical rows of their fellows.

Drawing and Applied Arts student Natalie McGrorty’s recent body of work began with the recording of shadows cast by objects in her possession. She says: ‘I used intricate mark-making techniques, resulting in a collection of curious forms, which have since taken on a life of their own. Through working in wood, cast iron, ceramic and plaster these two-dimensional drawings have been released into three dimensional objects, able to cast shadows of their own.’

Media Practice student Lisa Gaudion produced a multimedia installation in Bristol’s Redcliffe Caves as part of her final project. Do Not Disturb was a collaboration by a group of final year Media Practice students, exploring the boundary between dreams and reality in a physical experience which includes motion activated audio, projected images on the cave walls, objects representing dreams lit up down long corridors, an interactive projection, live acting and music, set design and targeted lighting.

Lisa says. ‘We wanted to push the boundaries of our capabilities and explore a narrative in an unconventional way. Dreams are experiences which we commonly share with others but don’t fully understand. We felt that by using the caves as a metaphor for something “other” we would be able to submerge our audience in another world which can change and be altered – much like a dream does.’

UWE’s Art, Design and Media Degree Show takes place at various venues from 11–16 June 2011.

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UWE animator makes film for pilot NPH awareness campaign in Bristol

A talented animation student from the University of the West of England has created a short animated film highlighting the symptoms of a little known condition that mainly affects people over 60 called NPH (Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus).

The film will be broadcast in 37 GP waiting rooms via the Life Channel across Bristol this summer from 1 June to 31 August. The pilot campaign has been organised by the Association for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus (ASBAH) in partnership with the UWE School of Animation.

NPH symptoms include difficulty walking, short term memory loss and urinary incontinence. These symptoms are often wrongly assumed to be all about old age but there are treatments that can improve quality of life.

At present many people remain undiagnosed and ASBAH have engaged the help of Susan Elliott, who is studying towards the MA in Animation at UWE, to illustrate the symptoms in a way that will encourage more people who may have the condition to seek out help. The pilot campaign will test whether raising public awareness in one locality will lead to an increase in diagnosis and treatment.

Susan Elliott says that for her the project was serendipitous as it fitted well with her interest in using information graphics to communicate complex information.

She explains: ‘The animation is a short 30 second film – the challenge was to come up with a simple message that would work in the context of the GP surgery, using colours that could be easily absorbed, figures that would be realistic enough to make sense and to convey a message that treated a symptom like urinary incontinence with sensitivity.’

Susan has designed all the characters using an animation package called illustrator. The figures resemble little paper cut outs or split pin dolls that are animated using a 2D digital animation package called Flash. The film can be viewed on YouTube.

Susan says: ‘The film starts off with a gentleman sitting on a park bench and introduces the symptoms one by one. I treated the urinary incontinence symptom by showing an elderly lady having to rush off to the toilet half way through her meal. The imagery is supported by words that explain the symptoms and is clear and concise so I really hope it has resonance with the people who are experiencing the symptoms.’

ASBAH Chief Executive Jackie Bland says she is delighted with the collaboration with UWE: ‘Susan’s animation will be a huge help in our campaign as it’s so clear and memorable. We know that at least 250,000 people will see it in the GPs’ surgeries and others will be able to access it via YouTube. Susan has also illustrated a leaflet on NPH for us and these are going out to local care agencies. The more people who know about NPH the better as the sooner someone is diagnosed the more likely they are to benefit from treatment and we have seen what a huge difference treatment can make to people’s quality of life.’

Susan has also provided animation for a video about recycling commissioned by Exeter City Council.

She concludes: ‘The course at UWE has been excellent and the opportunity to work with ASBAH has been the icing on the cake.’

Chris Webster, Deputy Head of Bristol School of Animation, said: ‘We are approached regularly by organisations asking for help to create promotional films for products and campaigns. We do encourage our students to carry out live projects alongside course work as it enhances their experience and makes them more employable if they can show client led work. But it is equally important to point out that the client brief has to be a two way thing – a meaty project for a student that will stretch their abilities and absolutely not cheap labour.

‘The ASBAH project has been a brilliant example of an excellent client/student opportunity. The work supports an important campaign and will be seen by many people. Animation has been used to promote health very successfully in the past and I think there is a considerable market to develop this genre. Susan is a very talented animator with a really mature attitude and I think she is going to be someone to watch out for in the future. She is typical of our MA Animation students having graduated in Film Studies and German. When choosing people for the very popular MA Animation at UWE we look for a genuine curiosity and some experience of animation but many have not come to us via the animation graduate route.’

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UWE lecturer gets BAFTA nomination for Human Planet sound

A lecturer and sound engineer from the University of the West of England has been nominated for a BAFTA award.

Martyn Harries (UWE) has been nominated together with Sound Editor Kate Hopkins for their work on the BBC 1 programme Human Planet. They have been nominated in the Sound Factual category. The BAFTA Television Craft Awards celebrate the best industry talent behind the scenes and in front of the camera.

Martyn says that he and Kate are delighted: ‘It is very exciting to work on such a landmark series with such a talented team. The recognition implicit in the nomination for a BAFTA is great after so much hard work last year.’

Martyn works as a senior lecturer on the Music Technology and Audio Music Technology programmes at UWE. He has previously won a BAFTA, for work on the sound for David Attenborough’s Life of Birds (1999) and with Kate an EMMY for Wild China (2009).

He said: ‘In the fast moving post production industry UWE believe it is important that I keep current by working on projects of this caliber. The work on the Oceans soundtrack was completed during my summer break last year. The programme is the largest project that I have ever mixed, 98 sound tracks in full 5.1 surround as well as stereo. We had to bring the images to life by creating a sound world to reflect the ethnic locations and this involved gathering sounds from each of the places that the film team visited.

‘The score was composed by Nitin Sawhney and recorded by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Throughout the series this is combined with sound layering made up of many atmospheres and effects blended with location tracks of indigenous voices and a narration by John Hurt.’

Martyn joined UWE two years ago after a long career at the BBC, he continues: ‘I have the best of both worlds as I haven’t really stopped working on sound projects for the BBC, this Christmas I mixed the sound for the BBC2 David Attenborough Madagascar programme. However my work at UWE is quite a different sort of challenge and I’m really enjoying passing on my enthusiasm and skills to students.

‘It is great to be able to get my media colleagues to talk to UWE’s students about their work and the future of the industry. Human Planet series producer, Dale Templar visited UWE recently to talk to students about the highs, lows and difficulties involved in making this landmark series. In addition to this UWE students have been invited to tour the Hoddinot Hall (BBC National Orchestra of Wales concert hall and recording studios) as a result of contacts made on this show.’

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UWE continues to offer outstanding teacher training

The University of the West of England has received a glowing Ofsted report for the provision of teacher training at secondary, primary and further education levels.

The report is divided into two categories. In the first of these, ‘Effectiveness of provision in securing high quality outcomes for trainees’, UWE is judged to be outstanding for secondary provision, good with outstanding features for primary and good for further education training.

In the second category, ‘Capacity to improve further and/or sustain high quality’, both secondary and primary were marked as outstanding and further education provision as good.

Professor Lynn Raphael Reed, Head of UWE’s Department of Education, says she is delighted with the outcome; she said, ‘The written commentary captures succinctly the strengths that permeate our provision.

‘The report captures our commitment to developing extended and reflective professionals equipped to respond effectively to the challenges of today and to achieve the best possible outcomes for diverse groups of learners.

‘Our strong partnerships and active engagement with our local and regional communities are praised, as is our commitment to provide opportunities for ongoing continuing professional development.

‘The quality of our strategic planning and leadership is highlighted and an aspect which is especially pleasing to note is the recognition of our innovative approaches to training, with many opportunities for creative cross-curricular activity and peer collaboration.

‘The opportunity for accelerating learning across our provision is welcome and areas for further development are already being addressed.’

Professor Steve West, UWE Vice-Chancellor concurs, ‘We are delighted at this confirmation of the quality of provision of teacher training at UWE. The School of Education has a reputation for excellence of delivery of teacher training and has historically faired very well in these assessments. Well done to the entire department for this fantastic achievement.’

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UWE media students dominate regional RTS award nominations

Students from the Media Practice course at the University of the West of England have once again dominated the nomination stages of the Royal Television Society Student TV awards for the South West region. 

Media Practice students have notched up five nominations in the total of six and are assured of a win in the Fiction category as all the finalists are from UWE.

Abigail Davies, the Media Practice award leader from UWE said: ‘We are all thrilled at this outstanding result for the UWE students. A high level of craft skills and the ability to create compelling stories that really engage an audience are central to what we do in Media Practice and this demonstrates the strength of creative talent coming out of the course. The students have done really well as the RTS do not vote anything through to the finalist stage unless it meets their very high standards for production quality.’

Two films have made it through in the Factual category. Both reflect students’ adventurous choice of documentary topics and their international scope. Shooting Blind by Andrew Whitehouse and Adaleane Coade is a documentary following the English Blind Football squad as they take on Germany in the last friendly of the season in preparation for the 2010 World Cup. We learn about the skill and competitive drive of the players, who are at the very top of disability sports.

Don’t give up your guns by Juris Kudeiko is a documentary following Armand who left Latvia for England because of the economic crisis in his homeland. How has his life changed; is it better or worse? The film explores the life of an economic migrant, his aspirations and dreams.

Three films are in the final running for the Fiction category. Boy by Matty Groves (Director), Dan Kay (Producer) and Mike Marchlewski (Camera) is a psychological horror based on a true story. Roland Boy is a night shift taxi driver who uses his black cab as cover to prowl the streets and pick up women. His position of trust becomes the ultimate betrayal as his passengers’ journeys turn into a fight for survival.

Pot Pourri by Rob Hayward (Producer/Director), Juris Kudeiko (Camera) and Sam Coleman (Sound & First Editor) is a comedy about two young men with very different views on life. Their friendship is put to the test when an unexpected visitor is found in their flat, forcing them to stand up for what’s important to them.

Patisserie Nights by Mike Marchlewski (Director), Dan Kay (Producer) and Max Creed (Camera) is an unlikely love story. Edward longs to find companionship but cannot overcome his desperate shyness. When his world collides with Jagustyna, an outgoing and quirky young woman, his life is destined to change. The odd pair spend a whirlwind night together, after which nothing is the same.

Alex Gilkison, Executive Dean from the Faculty of Creative Arts, Humanities and Education at UWE, said: ‘This is a fantastic result and we wish the students well for the finals. That UWE has dominated the awards for the region speaks volumes for the quality of teaching and the direction provided by our brilliant lecturing team here.’

For over 80 years, the Royal Television Society (RTS) Awards have provided the UK’s main platform for debate about the future of television. The awards are the most prestigious and long-running industry peer-awarded commendation in this field. Each year ceremonies recognise excellence across the entire range of programme making and broadcasting skills.

The RTS Student Television Awards recognise the best audiovisual work created by full- or part-time students as part of their course. The national awards ceremony is held every May in central London.

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Local charities benefit from UWE’s Better Together Fund

The ‘Better Together Fund’, UWE’s charitable fund, is inviting groups and charities in Bristol to apply for grants. The deadline for applications is 9 February 2011. 

Grants of up to £3,000 are available for local and international charitable projects, and applications are open to UWE staff, students, and alumni. Smaller local charities that could benefit from volunteer and financial support are invited to apply by teaming up with a member of UWE staff, student or alumni. For more information or to apply, please visit the project website.

The Better Together Fund is a new charitable initiative launched in 2009 to offer alumni, staff and students the opportunity to support projects which enrich the local and wider community, help students facing financial hardship, and enhance university life and the student experience at UWE.

In 2010 the Better Together fund awarded over £30,000 to support 11 projects and causes in the Bristol area.

Among the projects to receive funding last year was The Bear-Pit Improvement Group, led by Henry Shaftoe, a Lecturer in Planning and Architecture at UWE, and supported by the Bristol Civic Society and People’s Republic of Stokes Croft. Through direct interventions and liaison with Bristol City Council, the group hopes to achieve much-needed improvements to make the St James Barton roundabout area not only safer, but a desirable space to spend time in. Ideas for making quick improvements may include: refreshment carts and moveable seating, art works, staging for performers, murals, allotments or growing spaces, art and craft stalls, play events, markets, festival events and car boot sales.

Emma Sambrook, Director of Development & Alumni Relations at UWE says: ‘The Better Together Fund is already helping small local groups in Bristol and we want to make sure those that can benefit from the fund know it exists and can apply. The fund is entirely supported by donations and as well as helping students facing hardship, we support community projects, and educational and extra-curricular activities around the University. The money raised is dispersed annually and applications for community grants are open to staff, students and alumni of UWE.’

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