Devonport Green Teahouse

A virtual festival showcasing the skills and talents of arts and humanities students and graduates in the city has gone ‘live’.

IGNITE – which brings together the University of Plymouth and Plymouth College of Art – will provide an online celebration of the degree work of final-year undergraduates across the spectrum of courses, from Fine Art to Photography; Animation to Architecture; Performing Arts to Product Design.

The site is also serving to bring together emerging talent, Plymouth’s creative community, industry and the public to ‘ignite’ economic growth, productivity and employment. In particular, it will enable employers and the public to search for students and graduates in specific disciplines, and to view, watch and listen to the latest topics from Plymouth's creative institutions, local practitioners and key economic partners.

Professor Chris Bennewith, Head of the School of Art, Design and Architecture, said the city had been due to celebrate the inaugural IGNITE Festival of Creativity this month until COVID-19 forced it to be shelved until 2021. The University’s own Arts Degree Show, a constituent of the Festival, similarly had to be cancelled this year.

“It has been well documented that COVID-19 presents a very serious challenge to our creative industries,” Professor Bennewith said. “It has also affected our students, many of whom have been unable to access studios and, in some cases, their final year projects. The summer has historically been a time of celebration and showcase for their talent and hard work of our graduating students – both at the University and across the city – and I’m delighted that through the IGNITE website we can at least preserve that tradition in an online format, and provide them with a platform upon which to shine.” 

Each week, new student showcases will be added to and featured on the website. These include:

  • 3D Design student Alex Muir, whose passion is for sustainable design with products that can be made more efficiently, with fewer materials, packaging, and effort. Among his featured projects is a versatile and affordable ventilator for less economically developed countries, where all parts can be easily disassembled, repaired, recycled, and reused efficiently.
  • Illustration student Imogen Mangle, who specialises in comics and visual narratives. Her work is often influenced or reflective of her experiences as a Black Mixed queer woman living in the South West, carrying themes of discomfort, otherness, and social isolation, as well as love and healing.
  • Spatial and Interior Design student Jordan Chidgey, whose inspiration is sustainable spaces that reduce the impact that architecture and construction has on the environment. The Small Space Big Impact project is among his featured work, which highlights how we can use modular housing to increase housing capacity in areas with expanding populations while maintaining diverse demographics and encouraging individuals to communicate with each other.
  • Media Arts graduate Rosie Symes, who specialises in creating video advertising and social media content, as well as documentary, narrative film, and photography.
  • Media producer and Media Arts graduate Cameron Holt, who specialises in editing and videography. Alongside his video showreels is his BBC Three unofficial rebrand project, in which he created a set minimalistic, modern-style posters for the channel.
  • Illustrator Anisha Bhakta, whose practice incorporates traditional printmaking techniques, digital illustration, painting, and ceramics but what underpins her work is her love of narratives and the ocean.
  • Architecture student Kyle Stone, whose Fish To Dish Project looks to connect the people of Sutton Harbour to the fishing industry, creating a fish market and cookery classroom from old warehouse space. 
  • Fine Art student Megan Walsh, whose recurring themes of family, relationships and memories are explored through mixed media, painting, and specifically portraiture. Her project Family Portrait is among those featured, in which Megan uses tracing and tissue paper to create portraits of her paternal grandfather, a German soldier. 
  • Photographer Emma Booth, whose work explores connections to family history, such as her personal role as a young adult carer, and tackling complex interlinked themes including isolation, chronic illness, grief, loss and memory.
  • Game Arts and Design student Oktawian Klosko, whose final year project, The Dead of Winter, explores visual language in a theoretical and practical context, in order to determine its significance within gaming.

The IGNITE website and IGNITE Festival of Creativity is supported Plymouth City Council as part of the iMayflower project, with funding from the Cultural Development Fund through Arts Council England and DCMS.

Dan Howson, the Festival's producer, said: 
"With IGNITE, we have transcended what you might regard as an online degree show. We have created something that is, if not unique, then certainly very rare - a platform for emerging talent, that establishes connections between education and employment. And IGNITE will go further than that, engineering genuine projects and opportunities that will benefit both graduates and industry."
Professor Bennewith added:
“As a resource for the future, IGNITE is a hugely exciting development for the city’s creative sector, enabling us to introduce live commercial briefs, placements and other opportunities, as well as connect to national events and media.”