Chris Day secured a First Class Honours Degree in Design and Applied Arts (now BA (Hons) Glass and Ceramics) and is now studying for a Master’s degree in the same subject. In 2019 he was selected to exhibit as part of the prestigious British Glass Biennale, where he received a special commendation. In 2020 his solo exhibition at the Vessel Gallery: ‘Blown, Bound and Bold’ – the result of his research into black slavery and the civil rights movement – was featured as part of London Craft Week. Chris’ work has also been featured on BBC Midlands Today.
We caught up with Chris to discuss his experience of studying at Wolverhampton, how his work is inspired by black history and identity and informed by research on the history of the slave trade in the Eighteenth Century.
I’d never thought about going to University and it was my wife who encouraged me to go to an Open Day and talk about my options. I’d never considered it, but I’d always loved art and did an Art O Level. It was something I always wanted to go back to and explore. But I was 48 at the time, with a mortgage and two kids.
When I arrived at the University, I was a blank canvas. I knew I wanted to tell a different story about slavery but not in the way it’s been done before. I wanted to change the narrative. Studying as a mature student and graduating from The University of Wolverhampton I have been able to develop work which involves black history and identity and try to reignite the conversation surrounding these issues.
I can’t thank the University enough for inspiring me, they have nurtured me and they have instilled confidence in me. I needed something to spark my enthusiasm. When I saw the studio and facilities at the School of Art, it was such an amazing space, I knew I wanted to work with glass – I’d never worked with it and it’s something that doesn’t really want to be worked with so that was a real challenge for me from the start.
Images of Chris' recent work, photographed by Simon Bruntnell © SIMON BRUNTNELL PHOTOGRAPHY
The University gave me something that I can do for me. I’ve got my career but as soon as I dipped my toe in the water even though I knew I probably wouldn’t make money, but it’s a bonus if I do.
This is my passion and it’s my personal journey.
My main purpose is to engage the audience on issues that are hard to confront on many levels, using art to help overcome some of the traumas that haunt our collective past.
Glass is just like the human spirit attempting to break free, creating areas of resistance, while still being overcome by the boundaries that confine it.