Student research prize 2017: Faculty of Arts and Humanities

Lucy Olivia Symons

BA (Hons) 3D Design: Spatial and Interiors

Sustainable Earth Institute lead: Dr Pete Davis

A space to acknowledge climatic urgencies, to reflect, and resolve

The expression Anthropocene, relates to the period in which we’re currently existing, where human activities are the dominant influence on the environment. This eco structure is a stand-alone pavilion, designed as a spatial platform to stimulate discussions at the annual United Nations conference on Climate Change, this year to be held in Bonn, Germany. The space urges users to be more involved with, and understand environmental issues whilst being immersed in a building functioning as its own ecosystem, of self-sustaining qualities.

The pavilion consists of three factors; an open plan conversational zone, a technologically enhanced structure, and an exhibition space. These coincide to create an amalgam of biologically inspired structures that aim to solve our struggle with symbiosis in urban architecture.

Robert Harris

BA (Hons) English and Creative Writing

Sustainable Earth Institute leads: Dr David Sergeant and Dr Mandy Bloomfield

Man of Oil

Robert’s film script is full of surprises and visionary in its dedicated interest in exploring beyond the Anthropocene, and within the realm of ‘Hyperobjects’.

The project’s ecological concerns are manifest in the ‘man of oil’, a figure in which petro-culture takes human form and draws attention to our reliance and exploitation of the earth. The script capitalises on the filmic medium and enters a surrealist aesthetics by virtue of collapsing worlds, enabling/entangling man as hyperobject in him/herself, spreading a consciousness of shared experiences.

Nicole Woods

BA (Hons) Photography

Sustainable Earth Institute lead: Ms Heidi Morstang

To Pastures New 

'To Pastures New’ is a photographic project that studies the day-to-day life of lamb and beef farmers on Dartmoor, a vast moorland situated in the heart of Devon. Famous for its more traditional methods of agriculture, Dartmoor farmers play a huge and often unknown role in the upkeep of the moorlands. From grazing hardy livestock on common land, to maintaining gorse through the practise of swaling, farmers have shaped the Dartmoor landscape over centuries. The project celebrates the devotion of the farmer to his livestock and land, and documents their traditions at a time when Brexit brings so much uncertainty for their future.

Image: Nicole Woods

Jena Richeldis Parkin

BA (Hons) Fine Art

Sustainable Earth Institute lead: Mr Phil Power

Untitled; Ophrys sphegodes, Andrena nigroaenea

By exploring the sustainability of materials, my practice has become driven by experimentation and research. My work has developed strong links with science and the natural world and I question the place of art within our contemporary consumerist society.

I have gained inspiration through a keen interest in audience interaction and participation as effective methods of awareness raising. Motivated by a deep respect for Buddhism, elements of my Buddhist practice; such as the idea of the ‘Middle Way’; often influence my work and ideas. As sustainability is such a complex area to consider, the notion of a middle way is poignant as it is almost impossible to discern the true sustainability of a material. Instead my practice aims to move towards sustainability, whist recognising that this goal may remain impossible to fully achieve. I’m discovering the importance of compromise when trying to create a sustainable and evocative piece of work.

I feel passionately about the sun as a source of power, in part influenced by my own experiences with Seasonal Affective Disorder, although notions of the disorder are not overtly present within my work. I am also interested in the concept of the word as a sustainable resource, words require minimal resources in order for their message to be conveyed, and yet they can wield such power. Through engagement of audience in interactive works that require the viewer to search for the meaning within the piece, my work has become suggestive of our human struggle to search for answers to our global energy crisis.

After experimenting with the concept of ‘borrowing’ natural materials and the ritual associated with returning these to the land, I have recently moved towards an interest in the use of renewable energy technology in my work. Even without the use of natural materials I like to think of my practice as a collaboration with nature, the design and development of my work is dictated by its impact upon the natural world. I have also been considering how my work may affect the attitude of the viewer and how this in turn may be of long term benefit to the environment.