Graduate Josh Harrison Illustrates the Gothic Manchester Festival 2017.

2017 BA (Hons) Illustration with Animation graduate Josh Harrison, was commissioned not long after leaving university by the Gothic Manchester Festival to provide the visual branding for the programme and a range of events across the city, 24th – 29th October 2017 – themed under the banner ‘Gothic Styles’

The subject matter ideally suited Josh’s working method with collage and the resulting illustrations were a success with organisers and funders alike.

Here is a link to the event and the programme pdf.  Josh’s illustrations have been extracted below.

More work  from Josh Harrison can be found on his website and instagram

Pages from Gothic-Manchester-Festival-2017-1.jpgPages from Gothic-Manchester-Festival-2017-2.jpgGothic-Manchester-Festival-2017-8Gothic-Manchester-Festival-2017-20

John Hewitt: Hugh Casson Prize

Congratulations to Senior Lecturer on BA(Hons) Illustration with Animation John Hewitt.

On 4th July it was announced at the Royal Academy in London that John Hewitt’s drawing ‘Ancestral figures: Mid Victorian Couple’ has been awarded the highly prestigious Hugh Casson Drawing Prize.

An important award that recognises drawing as the primary medium. Richly deserved for a dedication to personal practice few of us can match.

Ancestral figures mid victorian couple

Aon Community Art Awards

Two final year students from BA (Hons) Illustration with Animation David Howe and Jacob Phillips were selected at this years Manchester School of Art Degree show, as recipients of the Aon Community Art Award 2016/7. 

As featured previously the work selected by Aon formed a part of The Bradford Pit Project. These awards form a further recognition of the role of the artist as the translator, interpreter and illustrator of research. Creating direct engagement and impact within the specific communities we work with through design/art/media outcomes.

The aim of the Aon Community Award is to recognise and support young artists as they graduate from the Glasgow, Leeds and Manchester Schools of Art, offering mentoring and workshops to help support imaginative and vibrant practice.

The selected works will be exhibited at Aon’s global headquarters in London from August 2016 to August 2017. The work will be displayed in Aon’s prestigious client suite in the Leadenhall Building, and will be seen by clients, employees and visitors from all over the world.  Students will then be invited to a launch event in September to see the work installed on site.

About Aon Plc 

Aon plc (NYSE:AON) is a leading global provider of risk management, insurance brokerage and  reinsurance brokerage, and human resources solutions and outsourcing services. Through its more than 72,000 colleagues worldwide, Aon unites to empower results for clients in over 120 countries via innovative risk and people solutions.

The Community Art Award Programme forms part of our overall Community Affairs programme, which supports local communities, charities and organisations with mentoring, volunteering and financial help from Aon employees.

NB: Text edited from nomination letter provided to the recipient students.

Rachel McMahon: Collaboration

Final year Illustration with Animation student Rachel McMahon spent the early part of her final year of the course working on a collaborative Arts Council funded project with writer Andy Hickmott from the Manchester Writing School and musician Jay Birbeck of University College London. The project is outlined here in November on the Manchester Writing School blog.

I asked Rachel to describe the project in her own words for this blog post:

I contacted Andy Hickmott, a poet from the writing school, last year on the tip-off that he was in search of an animator to produce visuals for his 700 line poem, ‘The Reedy Boy’. On meeting Andy he liked my work and explained that he wanted to create an audio-visual aspect to the poem so he could eventually run a tour of performances in places that don’t normally host poetry readings or artistic performances, such as care homes, hospices etc. (Andy will be applying for a separate grant to take the show on a live tour once it is made.)

The grant we have received was to help us make a 45 minute film, which incorporated the spoken poem, a musical score by Jay Birbeck and animations by myself. It’s quite a big task. Both Andy and Jay were still studying for their MA’s, so we did our best to get the project finished during October/November to avoid clashes with course work. (although I am planning to include snippets in the degree show June 2016)

The poem is very folksy and quite dark so I’ve been working a lot with my normal hand-drawn style of animation combined with shadow puppetry elements. Much of what I’ve been doing is more what I would call scene-setting than creating an animated version of the poem, because we want the poem to be the main focus for the audience.

We  put together some trailers to hype up a bit of interest before we released it onto vimeo/youtube, and these and any other updates are on my facebook artist page :

Rachel McMahon   Website   Vimeo

The Reedy Boy in 4 parts:


App Hack 04/16

APPHACK event The Shed space Digital Innovation Labs MMU. A cross disciplinary collaborative project running from Friday evening through to Sunday afternoon 15/16/17th April.

Skill sets: Illustration/animation/graphic design/UI/UX/web design/html5.0/coding/computer science/marketing/project management.

Starting with team and mentor introductions on Friday evening the teams were formed and introduced to new software platforms for collaborative working, including Trello, GitHub and animation via Tumult Hype. The task: to develop a mature storyboard and app proposal based on a defined lateral thinking problem. Below some pictures from Saturday afternoon. Taking part from IwA: Rosie Burke, Dominika Wröblewska, Laura McAlea and Danielle Addae-Boetang. Support from James Condon as part of his MA professional platforms project.

Project profiled on Digital Innovation Article

Project profiled on Man Met Magazine

Reflective comments from Danielle Addae-Boetang 

‘At the weekend I have taken part in the OH-SO-INTENSE App hack. Walking into The Shed I wasn’t sure of what to expect but was very excited for the three days to come anyway. It was definitely one of the most productive weekends of my life. Collaborating with people across many different disciplines I was surrounded by amazing skill sets including: Illustration/animation/graphic design/UI/UX/web design/html5.0/coding/computer science/marketing/project management. 

The point of the workshop was to come up with an initial outline for an app that would visualise a lateral thinking puzzle. “The aim of visualising a range of lateral thinking puzzles created by Strickland”

Divided into three groups we dived into the project with a 36 hour deadline looming over us but also cheering us on. It was amazing to see how much we could create and achieve, in this short amount of time, completely from scratch. 

In the end each group has created almost an interactive game, each presenting a different puzzle in a completely new and exciting way. 

In terms of collaboration it was a very inspiring time, with all the participants totally immersed in the productive atmosphere and buzzing with excitement and ideas 24/7. 

Just goes to prove what many already knew – creative minds love, LOVE, L O V E short deadlines and being locked away from the outside world surrounded by other creative souls for three days 😉 

We emerged different people, awaiting the next app hack.’

Source: Danielle Addae-Boetang via Unit X Blog

Reflective comments from L6 student Dominika Wroblewska: 

‘I did even more collaborative work when I took part in the AppHack event organised by the MMU. There, we were divided into groups in which we had to work together on developing an app based on a lateral thinking puzzle. Every person in a group had a specific role in which they specialised. This sort of work was a good example to see how different disciplines complete one another – collaboration between a designer, illustrator and a coder can be very productive. By brainstorming, discussing, drawing, mapping and mutual help and commitment, we’ve managed to create something functioning and in the end win the whole event. I was hugely pleased with what we’ve created and in fact, we got along so well, we decided to work on another project together. This time the brief was to come up with an interactive event/game for people to take part in (in different venues across Manchester) to celebrate the Olympics in Rio.

Source: Dominika Wroblewska Artists reflective statement -Unit X May 2016



Future Everything: Life 01/04/16

Notes from Future Everything 2016 Manchester 01/04/16:

a way of making connections out of the School of Art and into (traditionally) unrelated fields that could potentially provide new and relevant sources of engagement for the study and practice of design and in my own case specifically thinking about illustration and animation. Morning session was headed as ‘Life’ and presented by three speakers, David Benqué from the RCA, Abi Glencross from Kings College and Andy Miah from Salford University; to look at the ways science and art/design can be connected to envisage our potential futures on this planet.

David Benqué: Design Interactions Resarch, Royal College of Art, London
Consulting Researcher – Microsoft Research, Cambridge UK

A member of the Design Interactions Research Department at the RCA talked about using design as a tool to ‘imagine’ not ‘describe’, using the World Fair of 1939 as an example of the way science fiction/fact was presented as a series of fantastical and often surreal dioramas, using large 3D models of the future to present an understandable ‘pictured’ vision.

This leading into his own work on Blueprints for the Unknown for STUDIOLAB a European platform for creative interactions between art and science.  Focusing on Bio hacking/direct action/environmental activism via the Green Weatherman project. Overlying theme of using design to create new narratives that avoid the mainstream notions of science as either hype or dystopia. Thereby design envisioning the future before we get there as a way of testing ideas out and looking at the ethical and related concerns they raise.

David also raised ideas about the way the word design has replaced the word engineer in the description of these potential futures for science, i.e. the shift from the ‘genetic engineer’ to the idea of ‘design for life’ where the associations with hard edged (hard hat/white coat) ‘experiments’ is replaced by the idea of promising or designing ‘future products’ where the public we are more comfortable with notions of a designed product development than the many fictions we associate with the word experiment. In this instance the idea of design is linked with the familiarity of manipulating building blocks/or playing with Lego, thereby safe, recognisable and unthreatening. The role of design being to humanise or imagine the future that science based interventions may create and examine the ethical conflicts that inevitably emerge. The way design thinking (illustration/animation) can visualise the research activity/creating engaging none threatening outputs is interesting.

Blueprints for the Unknown video David Benque. David Benqué  website  Z33 Blueprints for the Unknown Exhibition

Abi Glencross:  Cellular Agriculturist: PhD student studying cellular agriculture in the Tissue Engineering & Biphotonics department at King’s College London.

Presenting ideas around challenging notions of acceptability in food production, working with New Harvest backed Future Farm Lab in the USA to research applications of cellular agriculture, or if you prefer – growing meet in the laboratory.

We recoil at the idea of growing meat – without the need for an animal ‘host’ and yet we wilfully ignore (most of us) the true facts surrounding the existing meat production facilities which are essentially the industrialisation of animal management into anonymous sites and invisible factories. As it stands the disconnect masks issues around ethics/environmental harm/health that are as relevant as the issues we perceive around cellular agriculture. Example given around low grade pharma inputs to livestock that are being fed into the environment at huge scales through waste products.

The perception of science and the language of science matters, if we talk about installing bio reactors near our homes we react instinctively against the ‘science’ and to reference David Benqué the experiment of such an imposition, and yet a bio reactor is essentially a brewery. We have what is essentially a bio reactor in the kitchen in the form of a bread maker. One is perceived as a positive one a negative, the difference could be seen as the design element and use of design to wrap or envsiage the science. The way we communicate the science can be the difference between attracting of not attracting funding, again this raises interesting questions for illustrators/designers/animators, not least some of ethical dilemmas to resolve.

Abi Glencross: Future Everything profile  Abi Glenross: New Harvest profile

Life 2.0 Andy Miah: Chair in Science Communication & Future Media, in the School of Environment & Life Sciences, University of Salford

A device to think about change – can we modify ourselves to reduce our impact on the environment, think of this as ‘human offsetting’ like carbon offsetting. How can we activate change and embrace the idea of reverse engineering ourselves/ modifying the human and understanding that we are the changeable resource not the environment. We focus on deforestation and agri business to maximise output yet fail to address the fact that according to National Geographic stats in Feb 2106 we still as a world waste 50% of the fruit and vegetables we grow.

example of clothing that can regulate temperature to reduce the need for the environment to regulate temperature, i.e. designing this into fashion research/solar fabrics. It is a function of this that we will be also facing ethical questions around fundamentally changing human behaviour, for example controlling birth rates.

Professor Andy Miah Research Website

Professor Andy Miah Academic Profile

Reference James Lovelock article The Guardian Climate Change 2008