MDX art and design graduates in the cultural spotlight

07/08/2019
Alumni and new grads flying the flag for MDX at the Edinburgh Fringe, Royal Academy and New Designers show

Left to right: MDX Product Design students Tom Downey, Kane Fernandes, Guohan Xu and Radha Sivyer. Below: (R) Regeneration I, by Hilary Barnes; Angela Rossi in her studio at MDX

Middlesex art and design students and alumni have been making an impact in the creative scene in London and beyond: being selected for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and the National Original Print Exhibition, starring at the Edinburgh Fringe, and receiving a series of prestigious nominations and endorsements, from the Royal Television Society student awards to the New Designers 2019 exhibition.

MA Printmaking student Hilary Barnes’s work Regeneration 1 was chosen by curator Anne Desmet for the Royal Academy’s famous summer show, where it has been on display since June (the original has been sold, 18 prints are still available). The image is a street-level view of a derelict housing block under scaffolding, and combines photography, drawing, etching, aquatint, stop out and spit bite techniques.

Hilary has been a lifelong housing activist, and says the work "reflects her despair at the destruction of good, solid, aesthetically pleasing buildings, replaced by office blocks, and housing for profit, not for people". She praises the "extraordinary skills, knowledge and encouragement" of the print technicians and her tutor as the reason for her "unexpected bonus" of being picked for the show.

Three MDX alumni and three staff have had their work selected for the National Original Print Exhibition, which celebrates the best of contemporary printmaking, at Bankside Gallery in September. Works by visual arts lecturer Ben Hendy, senior technician Freddy Morris and Associate Professor in Fine Art Steve Mumberson, and by alumni Liz Collini, Patrick Coleman and multi-award winning recent graduate Wai Wong have been chosen. The size of the entry makes MDX one of the best represented universities in the show.

MA Fine Art student Angela Rossi's work A Good Liver Stew will be displayed at Woolwich Print Fair this autumn. It is a print from a series of sketches of Italian folk tales she made when doing a residency in the Abruzzi mountains in Central Italy last year. The opportunity to look closely at the culture of her parent's home region which she often visited growing up was a revelation that really brought her practice together, she says.

Angela, who trained in architecture and worked at a practice, was attracted to come to MDX by the possibility of studying for the MA part-time, by the expertise of her tutors and the availability of studio space on campus. Technician Katya Timosenko, meanwhile, has had a work selected for the Society of Women Artists exhibition in September.

In June, MDX MA graduate Simone Giustinelli's freely inspired version of Homer's Odyssey was staged at the Dominio Pubblico National Theatre of Rome festival, produced by MDX graduate Phoebe Shergold-Willis and Laura Singleton - a return visit after a collaboration with the theatre masterminded by Simone last year. The show was put on with help from the Erasmus+ programme and made in conjunction with MDX artists collective State of the [art]; it featured a large company of MDX students including Josh Impey, Tania De Carvalho, Shannon Topliss, Pedro Santos, Emily Linzey and Master's students Maggie Slabanova, Kelly Horne, Bronwen Sharpe and Stefano Puppio.

Additionally, co-producer Phoebe through her last 6 months at MDX developed a youth theatre school she had set up at the age of 18, SASA School of Performing Arts, in a new partnership with a prominent performing arts institution. SASA now runs 15 classes a week and has more than 250 students. Its alumni have gone on to perform in West End musicals such as Matilda, and it has events and masterclasses lined up with stars from Hamilton and The Book of Mormon.

MDX performers in 'An Odyssey' by Simone Giustinelli, at Dominio Publico National Theatre of Rome festival

A new MDX theatre company, GOAT Theatre, is taking a project they made for the final year of their Theatre Arts course - Everyman, a contemporary spin on a medieval morality play - to the Edinburgh Fringe. The six day run at the Space on the Mile venue follows performances in Slovenia in July, and the company is currently in negotiations to stage it in Sweden in the autumn. The diversity of the company, who come from five different countries "gives us a different outlook", says co-founder Ivan Loboda. Ivan says he was originally attracted to the Middlesex Theatre Arts course because of the freedom it offered to pursue one's personal creative path; he also achieved excellent academic results throughout his studies.

A scene from Everyman, by GOAT Theatre 

Ten MDX Product Design students exhibited projects at the prestigious New Designers exhibition at the Business Design Centre. Five of them - Tom Downey, Radha Sivyer, Guohong Xu, Marisa Tschickart and Laura Uribe - won endorsements from the show's sponsors. For 'Record', an audio recording App and wearable to help identify the early signs of dementia, Laura won a prize from consultancy CCD Design & Ergonomics which included an invitation to apply for a six-month internship. Laura has also received an outstanding performance award from the Institution of Engineering Designers. She says her tutors' guidance and one-to-one support helped her push herself further, giving her a new sense of confidence and professionalism.

Aeddan Sussex (centre) with cast and crew from Chopsticks!!

Chopsticks!!, a martial arts comedy short by MDX graduates which won two London region Royal Television Society (RTS) Student TV Awards and two Learning on Screen awards earlier this year received four nominations for the national RTS Student TV Awards at the BFI in June. Among other festival screenings, it has been selected for the Iron Dragon TV Action Fest on August 9th-10th in Austin, Texas. Director Aeddan Sussex has been working as a freelance editor for Global Entertainment and developing his own projects, director of photography Roan Lenihan is now at Disney and fight choreographer Jonathan Chang is working as a dance choreographer in Hong Kong.

To find out more about the Printmaking MA programme at Middlesex, click here

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