Georgia O’Keefe once said “I found I could say things with colour and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for” - words that will ring true for the students preparing for RAW, the Middlesex University art and design degree show next week.
Taking place at the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane, visitors will have the chance to see the work of around 500 of the university’s final-year students in disciplines including animation, photography, fashion, interior design, fine art, jewellery and illustration. Last year’s event attracted more than 5,000 visitors.
Carrie Harwood, 21, and Lucy Nicholls, 22, both influential fashion bloggers, have created and published a magazine, Wish. The pair, who both live in High Barnet, met in the first year of their fashion, design, styling and promotion degree course.
“You’ll see a physical representation of the magazine,” says Carrie. “Because our magazine’s quite cute and girly, we’re setting it up as a sort of grandmother’s living room where you come in and have a read.”
She and Lucy have done everything from finding sponsorship, organising photo shoots and writing articles, to commissioning, designing and finding caterers for the launch parties.
“We love being able to express ourselves creatively,” Carrie continues. “It’s great that all these industry people will be there and will hopefully get to see our work.”
Fine art and critical theory student Tamsin Spargo, 22, will be displaying a number of portraits inspired by her gap year in Finland. “Six of them are painted in acrylics and have embroidery as well,” explains Tamsin, who is living in Hendon while she studies, “and two of the pieces are fully hand-embroidered on fabric.”
The portraits are related to the friends she made in Finland and also encompass the battle to overcome cultural differences. “My work has always been about my friends and people who are close to me,” Tamsin says, “and then the idea of distance and separation came into it, then expanded to living in a different culture.
“I did one piece where I got some stereotypical English phrases, like ‘fish and chips’ and ‘let’s have a cup of tea’, and embroidered them in Finnish, so people understand what it’s like to see all this Finnish stuff and not understand.”
Bella Beckford, also living in Hendon, has created a range of wearable knitwear whose theme of strong femininity is portrayed through bold silhouettes and complex knitted structures.
“I’m interested in the way femininity is perceived,” says the 22-year-old fashion textiles student. “I’m quite girly and quiet but I’ve got this drive in me and I wanted to get that across. I contrasted costume with punk – a bit of a crazy comparison as punk is almost a rejection of femininity – and ended up with a collection of soft knits with some really structural, hard, rigid knits that are quite difficult to work with.”
Bella remembers getting a little weaving loom when she was just eight. “I forgot about it when I was a teenager,” she says, “but I was reintroduced to knitting in the first year of my degree. It’s definitely about textures for me, textures and contrasts.”
RAW takes place from Friday, June 8 to Monday, June 11 at the Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, London, and is open to the public on Saturday from 10am to 6pm and on Sunday and Monday from 10am to 7pm. Details: 020 8411 5555, www.mdx.ac.uk/degreeshow or email email@example.com