Students from the University of Wolverhampton’s School of Art are showcasing work they’ve created during the past three years of their degree studies – with some of them setting up camp to highlight the impact of litter and waste on the environment through social art practice.
The Degree Show 2022 is open to the public from Saturday 11 June until Wednesday 22 June. The free exhibition will be on display at the Wolverhampton School of Art, George Wallis Building, Molineux Street, Wolverhampton, WV1 1DT.
This year, artwork from Undergraduate students will be on display from degree courses covering art, design and screen school subjects ranging from film, animation and games design, painting, photography and social practice to cutting edge design work led and informed by industry and the commercial creative world.
Final year Undergraduate Fine Art degree student, Adam Howells, 40 from Wolverhampton, has been ‘camping on campus’ as part of his Degree Show work. During lockdown, Adam set up a unique project – Wild Campers Against Waste – to encourage people to collect litter while camping. The initiative evolved into a National Lottery funded project, WV10 Conscious Camping Community, for people living in the postcode area of WV10 in Wolverhampton which aimed to encourage single parent families to camp within and connect with nature.
Wild Campers Against Waste is now a thriving non-profit organisation with a team of people working for them, including some recent University of Wolverhampton Fine Art graduates. With 10,000 followers around the world, Adam also set up a virtual Great Archaeological Litter Pick during lockdown with over 60,000 people collecting 270 items of vintage litter over 20 years old.
The results of his efforts over the past two years have been pulled together for his Degree Show installation which includes video footage of the wild camping and litter picking events he set up and a virtual museum of vintage litter to show the effects of littering in a throwaway society – all of which is supported by a book, the ‘Little Rubbish Book’.
Adam said: “Art should work in its own unique way. It’s kind of a revolution in art to highlight social issues – working socially in a constructive way. We can see issues in the world and we can look at healing those and my work very much reflects this idea.
“I’ve created some videos explaining the stories and events, focusing on the objects and waste we’ve collected, and I think this social art practice will be something that people will be surprised to find at an art exhibition.
“It’s very much circular work, we all need to protect nature and we should be connecting to it so all of our behaviour is interlinked.”
The School of Art has exhibited over 9,000 students’ work since opening its doors at the first degree show in 1969 and has featured some of the brightest new artists and designers in the country.
Maggie Ayliffe, Head of the University’s School of Art, said: “Our celebratory end of year show is a chance for students to experience first-hand what it’s like to create their own display in a gallery environment. Not only have they crafted and developed ideas they also learn what kind of work goes into organising and creating a professional exhibition and this is the first time we’ve been able to do this since 2019.
“This year’s Degree Show demonstrates how our students have thrived during the challenging times of the pandemic, with exciting new sensibilities and ways of working that emerged during this unique period on display. It has also been an exciting time for the arts in Wolverhampton. With the show coming hot on the heels of British Art Show 9 and with the new Wolverhampton Screen School up and running we are really looking forward to seeing the development of a new and strong profile for art in the city.”
Gavin Rogers, Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at the University, said: “It has been great to work with Adam. His project started during lockdown in 2020, and over the past few years has encouraged thousands of people to get outdoors, appreciate nature and improve their wellbeing.
“The project also led to Adam setting up his own community interest company through a number of funded projects demonstrating how important arts-led social enterprise is for the local economy. The School of Art school has a well-known legacy of civic art practices and long may this continue.”
Entry is free and open to everyone on weekdays from 10.00 am until 4.00 pm and on Saturdays from 11.00 am until 4.00 pm. The exhibition will be closed on Sundays.
The School of Art has been open since 1851 and is recruiting students for its new Screen School offering Undergraduate Degree courses in Games Design, Animation, Film and TV Production, Journalism and Media with the School of Art offering Undergraduate Degree courses in Fine Art, Graphic Design, Illustration and Photography.