Portfolios of MDX graduates in more than 30 creative disciplines go online from today on a website testifying to the originality and resilience of the cohort of 2021.
Undergraduate students finishing their degree this summer have in most cases spent around half their time at university in conditions of Covid restrictions or lockdown. They have witnessed dramatic social and economic disruption from the pandemic and innovated on established ways of working and project templates, demonstrating “extraordinary achievement, given extreme circumstances”, says Head of Department of Design Professor Gareth Williams.
The Creative Graduates website, originally assembled for 2020 leavers, enables potential employers, media and academics to see the work highlights and profiles of this year’s graduates in arts and creative industries and related subjects.
In his introduction, Gareth Williams describes the world as being at “a moment of ‘in-between times’, an interregnum between Covid and post-Covid. We are also living in-between analogue and digital times, between liberal democracy and populism, and between climate pessimism and radical optimism.
“More than ever, we need creative minds to confront these challenges. Across the breadth of practice-led creative degrees at MDX, each graduate has learned to be creative in the face of great constraints, and their capacity to problem-solve and find alternatives is possibly their greatest asset”.
Existing elements of programmes which are robust under social distancing conditions and help student develop essential skills and competencies for the post-pandemic world have been expanded.
Screen Dance has long been a part of the choreographic curriculum for MDX students. It involves making work choreographed for the screen, with the students directing and composing all elements – shooting, developing material with the dancers and editing, all seen as part of the choreographic process. In 2020-21, first year BA students produced an end of year choreographic Screen Dance project, third year choreographers produced a collaborative screen event with Wimbledon College of Arts, and third year performance students presented a programme of screen and site-specific works that were pre-recorded as live and streamed as the ‘New Horizons- A Dancing Festival’ digital event.
Second years produced, promoted and marketed screen pieces for the spring Creativity & Enterprise festival. Filmed in many different countries, all students managed to create some inspiring work that made use of outside locations and home spaces. Insodoing, they wove together site, screen and motion proving their ability to push the context of Screen Dance beyond what they might have imagined. Senior Technician Dominique Rivoal, whose role spans programmes across ACI, supports dance students with screen projects. All students will now have access to Adobe Creative Cloud which includes Premier Pro and Photoshop.
“MDX has always been an adventurous, cross-disciplinary institution. By nature collaboration is one of our strengths” says Lecturer in Dance April Brown. MDX’s approach is “equipping students with so much more than the title of degree programme,” April says - making students aware of the digital skills they already have from using modern technology, and “being able to see other sides of puzzle - the more conceptual underpinning to choices you can make when you're using a screen”. “
"This was the year when students completely surpassed our expectations” says Associate Lecturer in Dance Bryony Cooper. She adds that it’s a new world for graduating students where it’s no longer about choosing to pursue work on stage or screen: all dancers will need to embrace screen opportunities. A unique festival of screen works next month, in collaboration with Independent Dance at Siobhan Davies Studios (booking now open via this page) demonstrates MDX Dance's lively innovation in this field.
Students on the BA Fashion Design and BA Fashion Textiles & Design programmes have been learning the theory and practice of using design software such as CLO 3D, Adobe Dimensions and Adobe Aero. The main focus has been on CLO 3D, which offers complex visualisations of items with almost limitless layers and details, allowing students to realise their 2D digital pattern pieces as 3D virtual garments. In turn the visualisations can be animated to make a virtual fashion show.
“The technology has allowed students who didn't have the space during lockdown to pattern cut and experiment in the digital realm instead” says programme leader in BA Fashion Design, menswear designer and illustrator Joe Turvey. “The fashion industry is currently having numerous conversations about creating and utilising digital assets to support sustainable practice and the circular economy – which is something the Fashion Design programme is encouraging students to consider with all their projects”.
MDX's BA Film programme created a set of protocols and processes for filming during the Covid-19 pandemic, on top of spearheading a collaboration between universities and industry on Covid-safe student filming, and organising Covid safety training for students with the top UK-safety company, First Option. FilmFixer, which manages locations for 14 London boroughs, used MDX students’ paperwork as an example of best practice.
Senior Lecturer in Film, Eddie McCaffrey, says the result of this groundwork was that virtually all students who wanted to, were able to go ahead with their filming projects. He praises this year’s students for “making a remarkable fist of the situation. As teachers, we were blown away. The students handled a vast amount of extra work. They were able to be more inventive and creative with their work. Credit goes to the students for delivering and also to our Graduate Academic Assistant, Student Learning Assistants, and the rest of the teaching and management team for their support.”