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Student massive artwork bags pride of place at major shopping centre


Artwork by University of Wolverhampton Illustration degree students has bagged pride of place at the Mander Shopping Centre in Wolverhampton city centre. 

Four Illustration students in their final year of the course, studying at the University of Wolverhampton School of Art, were selected to design massive digital artworks for two full retail shop windows and two interior wall space murals at the shopping centre - a scale that equals the length of four double deck buses. 

The team, WE ARE ILLUSTRATION, included the University’s Illustration Senior Lecturer and Project Manager, Stuart Varley, who worked alongside the students, Dan Turner, Nayia Balatsou, India Burtwisle and Lauren Higgins who designed the artwork for the live creative brief through a diverse range of digital, lens-based and hand-skilled works. 

The massive, bright-coloured work embraces diverse practice and were printed and installed by local print company, DIS Graphics. 

Nayia, India and Lauren created the abstract wall and botanical/figurative wall murals whilst Dan and Stuart created one shop window portal vision gallery with Dan creating the 3D digital work on the other shop window. 

Stuart Varley said: “This is my second course project working with the Mander Centre and DIS Graphics whereby students were commissioned to work on a live brief for the public to enjoy. The creative project shows a truly diverse range of both digital, lens based and hand skilled works from the Illustration students, showcasing just a flavour of the superb talent on the course.   

“They explored idea-based work, narrative and figurative, photographic collage, drawn, 3D visualisation and abstract works, alongside a neon (physical but virtual) gallery and geometrical play which shows the breadth and scope of their creative talent. 

“It’s vital that students get real life work experience where possible to complement their studies and learning. It both enhances and champions the student’s professional skills and underlines the great character, diversity in skills and the determination of our students. Over this brief alone they have faced new software and scale considerations and new visualising methods, and all have worked well under pressures of an external brief.  

“The approach by embracing collaboration such as this mirrors the model of so many contemporary professional practice jobs within the Creative Industries, where both face to face and online communication has taken place, often daily, and the link with both the needs of the Client and the Printers, are paramount to the students practice and output.  

“I am so proud of the students. Working within a real-world timescale, producing massive scale digital works is not an everyday occurrence for any students but the skill and determination, the burning of the midnight oil, to get it right by Nayia, India, Lauren and Dan must be acknowledged as great and not the norm.” 

Laura Taylor, Marketing Manager at the Mander Centre, said: "The student artwork is fabulous. I have to say how good the vinyls all look in person. It’s amazing work and impressive how each artwork is both creative and professional and it has been great to be a part of this latest venture.” 

Lauren said: "Being given the opportunity to be able to work on a live brief such as the Mander Centre project has been such a fantastic project to work on and be a part of. It's exciting to have seen our ideas and artworks grow into these two large scale pieces of art. I am proud of what we have achieved as a collective.” 

Nayia said: "The knowledge that we have gained on this live project as well as getting to work as a team has broadened our creative horizons. Personally, I really enjoyed working on these two walls with two completely contrasting styles, with different mediums from start to finish. It's great seeing how it all came together in the end.” 

India said: "The Mander Centre project has been such an exciting opportunity. We've all gained useful new skills that will equip us well as we begin our journeys within the creative industries. The biggest achievement I've gained during all this is the professional relationships I have established between two amazing young artists, Nayia and Lauren, and our mentor Stuart Varley. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching our works go from research to large scale pieces and I am excited to work as a collective on future projects."  

Dan said: “Being able to create large scale, public artworks such as those for the Mander Centre continues to demonstrate why the University of Wolverhampton is truly the University of Opportunity. Alongside my peers, we have been able to add very real skills to our figurative toolbelts that will serve us as we embark on our careers as illustrators. University mentor, Stuart Varley and his passion for teaching has truly been a highlight - he and the Illustration course staff have been integral to many other exciting projects, and I am glad to have been a part of such a wonderful collaboration.” 

Dave Purcell, Director at DIS Graphics, said: “Wolverhampton is a hub of creative talent and it is clear that the Illustration students are achieving really high standards and are positively pushing their limits for the artwork pieces they have produced for this project. I was amazed with the dedication and interest from them. it's good to see their passion for getting into the Creative Industries.” 

DIS Graphics, who were involved both in the printing and the installation of the massive artworks on vinyl and Foamex, invited the students on two separate occasions during the process to show them the inner workings from design to print, pushing the boundaries of technology to transform spaces. The company works with Rolls Royce, Virgin Active, Christian Dior, British Fashion Council, Nike and Wolves FC.  

The work is on display in the Mander Centre on the Ground Floor. 

Anyone looking to study at the University of Wolverhampton should register for one of our forthcoming Open Days. 


For more information please contact the Corporate Communications Team.

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