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Posted 12.03.18

Creative workshops and networking at the 2018 Student Conference

By Kat Peberdy

Addressing themes of Production, and organised by students from across all programme areas, this year's Student Conference was a hub of activity and discussion.

A wide range of events and activities took place at various locations within the college from Tuesday 13 - Thursday 15 February 2018. From zine workshops with BA (Hons) Illustration students to Hygge styling with BA (Hons) Interior Decoration, Styling & Design, visitors to the conference were invited to engage with a variety of creative activities.

Discussions focusing on entering industry were also popular, with a number of guest speakers attending the event, including Graphic Painter Mark Richards for BA (Hons) Graphic Design, Rhizome Artists Collective and RAS painter Vaughan Warren, sharing their thoughts on how to best maintain levels of production after leaving education and their top tips for emerging artists.

We caught up with three students involved in organising the event to talk about the experience; Erin Leahy from BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing & Printmaking, Anne Moore from BA (Hons) Photography and Jade Rogers from BA (Hons) Fashion...

What was the biggest challenge when it came to organising the event?

Erin: I think for me, the biggest challenge of the student conference was knowing that everything we wished to discuss or activities we wanted to run, would not only need to be surrounding the given theme of 'Production', but that we needed to make sure the day and the discussions held were relevant and engaging to the wider college. We needed to make it useful for not just our area of practice, but for students from Game Arts, Jewellery or Fashion.

Jade: We wanted to make sure visitors would be able to engage in the event. It was important to me that those who came to view our 'production line' would be able to take part and experience elements of what goes on in fashion.

What was your highlight of the event?

Anne: For me, the highlight was the completion of the video documentary that I had made for the conference. I also gained great satisfaction seeing the plans for the layout of the stand come together and watching the team curate the stand working together effectively to realise the project.

Our plan of holding an Instagram Marathon meant that we were not reliant solely on footfall - the internet capability led to opportunities to create further dialogue culturally from the platform of image-based social media.

Erin: Besides the fact that simply organising something like a student conference itself provides you with great experience and skills when it comes to problem solving and professionalism, it also provided so many students with great opportunities.

Getting several artists involved who not only gave practical demonstrations enriched with great knowledge and advice, students were able to have vital discussions on the subject of what happens when you leave art college. Some students also talked about potential collaborations with not just some of the visiting artists, but other students from different courses too.

How do you think this has impacted the way you'll work in the future?

Erin: After the success of the conference, I have much more confidence when it comes to organizing and collaborating with others. I'm more willing to follow the potential in ideas I may have with others and the experience of working as a team can help make future ideas a reality. After contacting so many artists for replies to our questionnaires or to ask artists to come in as guest speakers, that professional approach is something I can take forward in aiding my own practice when connecting with others.

Jade: I agree, the conference offered me the chance to take a lead role and be able to organise a small scale event, helping to improve my confidence and leadership skills. It's easy to forget how people outside of your respective department view what you do.

Anne: I hope to continue to form cultural links both across disciplines and with wider communities of media-based practitioners. As a bit of a computer 'dinosaur', our project in Photography led me to discover the vast network that exists and is available to be tapped into with a bit of internet savvy! Although I do use social media, I will endeavour to learn how to make it work for me in a more professional capacity.

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