Art Review: NCN Exhibition at Rough Trade

Thursday 02 February 2017
reading time: min, words

On the Monday 9 January, a group of young, innovative fashion students from New College Nottingham held their own exhibition to display their illustration work at Rough Trade...


Second year students from the course had been working on an assignment during the six weeks leading up to Christmas, which focused on creating a final collection of illustrations which could be used to display garment designs they had created to represent their own Burberry SS17 range.

The exhibition consisted of the students favorite pieces from their illustration project, and displayed a wide variety of skills and use of media. Their pieces featured all of their own garment designs, and were tailored towards the brand Burberry. Throughout the project, students experimented with various styles of drawing, and incorporated a range of methods to aid the development of their own, personal illustration style.

Students were also able to explore using different compositions and proportions to distort their images and make them look more inventive. Course leader, Katie Hemingway, said that her favourite part of the project was "...introducing learners to unusual drawing and illustration techniques, such as drawing with twigs, and seeing their reaction when they produce a great piece of art work with it." Katie was a very enthusiastic and supportive tutor throughout the assignment, using her own illustration skills to help students advance their own. "A lot of the techniques I introduced were about getting them to think less about the work looking perfect, but being free with it and see what the end outcome was." Katie continued, "I think it’s important to know your limits. Research illustrators that have a similar style to you and embrace all the illustration techniques, as there may just be something that you find in there that you can run with, and use that as a starting point to produce your own style."



Over the weeks they were working on their drawings, students worked with mediums such as inks, paints, pencils, pens, and more obscure objects such as twigs, leaves and other items which were used to draw and colour with. As a student of the course myself, I found it extremely stimulating to use such unique tools, and combine a variety of techniques to produce my own outcomes. It was great to see the things you could make while being completely creative, and use things that are extremely different from traditional processes and resources. The project really helped me to develop an individual style, by sourcing inspiration from different places, and exploring new ways in which I used my resources.

Fellow student Aimee Beecham gave her opinion: “Exploring different styles of drawing was challenging, as I sometimes find it difficult to explore different concepts, but in this project, I was able to push myself and produce work that I can be really proud of." During the assignment, we also practiced new methods such as life drawing, which was a completely new skill to learn for many on the course. Another student on the design-based course, James Scott, said that it was his also favorite project so far. “My favorite technique was the line drawing as I could draw more freely and make my drawings more personal.”

Upon first entering the exhibition at Rough Trade, it was hard to choose which pieces to look at first. The artwork was grouped in different sections, and each piece was clearly labelled with the student's name and details in order to promote themselves. The variety of colour and imagery used in the pieces made each one very different to the next, which kept you feeling intrigued as you walked across the venue.

The turn out of the night was quieter than expected, however, it didn't dampen the spirits of those who did attend. It was obvious that parents, family and friends of the students were fascinated with what was on display. "It was cool to have my work up, but the event wasn't advertised enough so I was slightly disappointed with the turn out" Aimee told me. However, tutor Katie had a more controversial opinion on the event, and said "I thought the event went really well and looked fantastic...  Rough Trade had a buzz and was the perfect location for the exhibition.”



As groups gathered together, it was a great night, not only to admire each others work, but to socialise. With the dimmed lights and music playing, the whole atmosphere was very relaxing, which helped you to broaden your mind and appreciate even the more abstract pieces of artwork.

Throughout the night, students were also excited to see their pieces being photographed by budding photographer Charlotte Turton, who also studies at the same college. It was great to have a network of students from other courses all working together, additionally working alongside local businesses like Rough Trade; it helped to reflect the sense of community support that we have in Nottingham, and also showing the potential for other occasions in the future.

The exhibition was a great opportunity to promote the local, upcoming talent that we have in Nottingham. It provided students with a chance to get their name out there and get themselves recognised in the creative industry, while also being able to build a more impressive portfolio of work to take on in years to come. Showcasing such talent at a young age is an impressive achievement for all the students – everyone's work was so diverse and personal. With a little more promotion, I think events like these could be really popular, so keep your eyes peeled for upcoming NCN student shows – if this one was anything to go by, they're certainly worth watching out for.

NCN's exhibition took place at Rough Trade on Monday 9 January

NCN website

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