Image shows Gray's School of Art Digital Degree Show launch event graphic
Image by: Gray's School of Art

Creative partnership behind success of Gray’s Digital Degree Show

By Jenny Frost - 24 June 2021

The finishing touches to Gray’s School of Art's Digital Degree Show, Onwards, are being made as the countdown to the opening launch on 9 July draws nearer.

This year’s event is as eclectic and thought provoking as ever and offers visitors a fully digital experience, that will showcase the work of over 150 designers and artists ranging from Painting, Contemporary Art Practice, 3D Design, Communication Design, Fashion and Textiles and Photography.

A big part of the success of this year’s immersive show are the students themselves, described by Head of Gray’s School of Art, Libby Curtis, as the real ‘stars of the show’ as she explains:

“The breadth of talent at this year’s show is outstanding. Not only have Gray’s students demonstrated their commitment to practice, professionalism, and their artistic flair, they’ve also shown their creative resilience in the face of COVID-19.”

At the heart of the Digital Degree Show, is a creative partnership between Gray’s School of Art and independent creative studio, Design and Code, who have enjoyed collaborating with the graduates as Sally Reaper, from Gray’s School of Art, comments:

“Onwards is a hugely collaborative process. The partnership between Gray’s and Design and Code has really helped make this year’s show as innovative and user-friendly as it can be. For us, it’s about ensuring the degree show is just as ambitious as it would have been if it had been a physical show.  We want to showcase the student’s work at its best and have set about making this year’s exhibition as inventive and engaging for visitors.   

“Working with Design and Code has drawn our expertise together and enriched the design process. They have supported our graduates throughout the process and have created a way for them to showcase their work in an immersive platform and continually helped us make inspiring virtual spaces"

“For me, this year’s project has really shown the importance of collective working and key to our success, has been the high level of trust and expertise that drives this partnership. Behind the scenes, the enthusiasm and dedication of our staff has gone over and above what is expected.    

"For many students, we are using completely new software that they are unfamiliar with. Without the support and guiding hand of our staff, this project would not have been possible.  Most notably, I would like to make special thanks to Gray’s technician, Callum Kellie, who has supported the students all the way, working hours and hours beyond his day job, to help the student’s showcase their work at it's best.

“We have a shared vision to promote Gray’s School of Art graduates to a global audience and to support them as they move forward into the creative industries. By joining forces, we have shown what can be done when the creative sector works together, and I can’t wait to launch this year’s show.”

Colin Leonard, Design and Code Director, added: “We are building on the success of last year’s digital degree show and working closely with Gray’s School of Art and the students to make sure their work is exhibited to the best it can be. We have helped develop, curate and archive a series of 3D virtual exhibition rooms to make sure Onwards is, as exciting an exciting and interesting experience.

“The student’s have really made their own virtual spaces their own and their talent shines through. We’re proud to play a part in launching this year’s graduates to a global audience and to help showcase what Gray’s and the North East has to offer.”

The creative partnership between Gray’s and Design and Code has grown from strength to strength in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, beginning last year with Gray’s School of Art’s first virtual degree show which created an entirely new online space to showcase the breadth of talent at the art school.

Expanding on last year’s success, the platform has been updated and further developed with new additions for the best user experience. Visitors can engage with work in a traditional 2D format through new search options, allowing them to explore students work by courses and themes. There is also a traditional archive of artists involved, with a simple click through of art works, featuring audio descriptions and visual images from all the artists so that show is as user-friendly as it can be.

Visitors can also go on an immersive journey and visit the exhibition in a more experimental way by exploring a series of 3D virtual spaces to experience the show as if they were there in person.

Gray’s Digital Degree Show 2021 launches on 9 July with an opening club night, and for the following week the virtual space will host webinars, Q+As and events for the public to interact with.

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