Rebecca Smith

Un Model, Re Structure, Dis Institute

Investigative Publication, 2020

Looking at how publication can act as a means of spatial development and explore common spaces of learning. It acts as a space of alternative learning, though structuring, institutional behaviors, and visual communication.

The publication ‘Book as Toolkit’ explores different Educational components and how this can be developed into an alternative space. It displays this act of zooming into institutional components and its layers of processed visualization as well as acting as a resource for the development of the alternate. The application and expansion of structures, models, behaviors, and sequences is visualized through the speculative models of education, this intersection or cross over of modes is visualized and developed through CMYK colour experimentation.


Rebecca Smith is an artist – educator – producer – creator and …

I explore the multi – faceted ways in which roles within arts organisations can have many purposes. In tern this interest in multi – use roles and spaces has developed into looking at the institute itself alongside space manuals and examine how these too can be adaptive to change. Un Model, Re Structure, Dis Institute, Alt Environment is a body of research and making that analyses the Uncanny spaces and the inter – between through experimental publication.



Arts and Education Practices

Heather Ince

empty space, grassy park, within a housing complex

Lost places and empty spaces

A photography project in Bentley. I felt it was important to see how Bentley has fundamentally changed over the years and that there isn’t much left in terms of community. 

I’d probably describe it more like shrinking of spaces and empty spaces. 

The way we were

A project about going back to the beginning, when Bentley consisted of mining and farm land. The book focuses on movement in communities in Darlaston- Bentley.

The Darlaston factories created jobs . There was a huge population in demand for work. The Bentley estate was built for the factory workers and in turn the factories helped create a community. My project helps reflect on the lost social bonds and belonging to a place.. and how closure of the factories ultimately destroyed the communities that had been built.

38 years have gone by and the impact of the factories closing can still be clearly seen especially with the empty shells of the former factories still being present along some of the main roads. Sometimes it’s not the building that is missed but the camaraderie, and the sense of belonging that the people who worked there felt, it is the loss that is misses.

abandoned empty spaces, derelict factories

I know where you played

Is a photographic project with a narrative which uses short extracts of stories from people in the community of Bentley reminiscing back to their childhoods, some of these places no longer exist and other places have been entirely forgotten altogether, like a discarded memory.



Arts and Education Practices

Ella Oakley

The Arts and Project Management MA has allowed me to fully cultivate an understanding of the behind-the-scenes happenings of art organisations, cultural spaces, and visual arts projects.

My Final Major Project consists of a Research Paper and Project Plan. The research paper explores public art and memorial culture, accumulating qualitative and quantitative data to aid and enable a highly successful and competent project. Over the Rainbow is a project which aims to provide a memorial for those who have lost their lives due to COVID-19.

The public art memorial comes at a pivotal time for the architecture of public spaces in Birmingham. The city centre has few contemporary art sculptures and memorials, therefore I aim to provide a place of remembrance and connect communities in the West Midlands.

The Over the Rainbow memorial is for the living, not for the dead. It is crucial to remember the dead but support and solidarity is needed for the people still alive today; the people who are left behind. The key areas and explorations of the project are explored through my Objectives, Outputs and Outcomes, which are explained in the image below:

Public art offers critical reflections on the past, our present and our understandings of daily life. “It is impossible to have a society that is civil and educated without public art, it lifts up humanity and challenges the individual who encounters it to think differently about the world” (Walker, D cited by Laneri, R 2009). Traditional public art memorials historically form a literal representation and are hard to interact with, they form a strict formal boundary between them and the viewer. The familiarity of these monuments provides a metaphorical list of instructions on how to act or feel.

People are more likely to become active participants with contemporary public memorials, as many have no boundaries. The public is invited to make their own mind up, use their own imagination and to sometimes form their own meaning and interpretation of the piece. They are able to morph their own experiences and opinions with the artists’ and each other. The design of the Over the Rainbow memorial is pivotal, will the sculpture hide in the comfort of the literal or can it conjoin the contemporary?

I decided during the duration of the planning stage that in order for this memorial to be successful, a strong design concept and depiction is essential. The Over the Rainbow memorial aims to be a ‘collective anchor point’, this concept is explored by Kevin Lynch: “Collective anchor-points construct deep integration with individuals and become part of their ‘mental map’ of the city”, (Lynch, K 1960). I completed a mood board of initial inspirations found on which can be seen in the screenshot below:

Please visit my blog where I articulate the progress of my Final Major Project paper. Outlined are my initial ideas and inspirations for the research paper and project; key areas of research; information and explanations regarding the questionnaire I conducted and why it was essential to my research; the project plan and vital exploration and lastly, my critical evaluation.

Artist Statement: I am a practising artist based in Birmingham and currently working as an Exhibitions Coordinator at the RBSA Gallery. I have a passion for operations, logistical and curatorial management within an arts environment. My artistic inspirations stem from the natural form, examining the relationship between the maternal bond and separation. I work predominately with fine-art-textile, producing sculptures that metaphorically represent this connection. I form hand-constructed woven or knitted textiles and combine other materials like plaster. These inspirations are emotive and explore the turbulent relationship between motherhood and feminism and also touch on the corporeal nature of the female human body with the abject.

Contact: email: instagram: ellaoakleyyyart blog:

References: Lynch, K (1960). The Image of the City, The M.I.T Press, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London, England. Available: http:// 1960_Kevin_Lynch_The_Image_of_The_City_book.pdf. Last accessed 14.8.20.

Walker, D cited by Laneri, R, (2009). Why We Love–And Need–Public Art. Available: https:// art.html#77bb29d342be. Last accessed 3.8.20.

Qingying Liu

Disappearance Series

video, 2020

In the face of the Covid-19 that is sweeping the world, cleaning has become a must-do every day. Disinfection water, Gloves, Masks, Paper towels, and so on are necessary items used to clean. When we quarantine at home, we can see the world through the window. So I used these to do my practice on the window.

From lockdown stay at home to lockdown measures eased and the government suggesting to eat out. My cleaning work has been accompanied by my activities. I have been recording my cleaning work when I stay at home during the quarantine period, to cleaning when I going to a friend’s house after lockdown measures eased, and to cleaning when I eat out.

My practice work is a series of videos titled Disappearance. It included seven short videos in a style of black and white images that is looked at the city through the window and disinfected it. In the end, as the hand wipes the window, the city is disappeared. Each video all same wiping techniques because I want to focus on different shooting places and the end result is disappeared. I want to express my views on Covid-19 through this work. If we didn’t take any measures to combat this virus, then the city may be defeated by the virus and disappeared.

Disappearance Series1, 2020, video, 2’56‘’

Disappearance Series2, 2020, video, 2’56‘’

Disappearance Series3, 2020, video, 2’56‘’

Disappearance Series4, 2020, video, 2’57‘’

Disappearance Series5, 2020, video, 2’57‘’

Disappearance Series6, 2020, video, 2’57‘’

Disappearance Series7, 2020, video, 2’57‘’


My course is MA Contemporary Arts China (MACAC) at BCU, my undergraduate and graduate major is environmental art design in China, and the main research is landscape design. My study MACAC at BCU is also an experience of interdisciplinary study. I mainly create through video art, use images to explore art in life, to record contemporary urban changes and discover problems in the city, and to think about the environment in the entire city. Reflecting on the appearance of urban at present, learning of Contemporary Art made me understand the contemporary urban from a different perspective and gained more insights.



Contemporary Arts China

Ye Wu

Ye Wu’s research and investigation this year has been primarily engaged with the field of Post-Humanism. It is related specifically to the concept of the ‘Cyborg’, stating ‘We have become cyborg, but we have not yet realized it ’ and how a dependency on contemporary technology in the form of smart phones and other prosthetic devices, impacts upon the human body and may be altering at a fundamental level human behaviours. He speculates on processes of communication between human and technology causing subtle changes in the physiological structure of the human brain. Its neural plasticity being altered by feedback loops and repetition. A new human is emerging, the ‘Trans Neural Creature’.


MP IDEA 010, Video, 1’34”, 1080P, June 2020, UK MP IDEA 011, Video, 1’45”, 1080P, July 2020, UK MP IDEA 006, Video, 18”, 1080P, June 2020, UK MP IDEA 005, Video, 17”, 1080P, June 2020, UK MP IDEA 004, Video, 48”, 1080P, June 2020, UK

We have become cyborg, but we have not yet realized it. When we can’t do without smartphones, and we can’t do without the internet, we become a cyborg. The highly developed data exchange method has made us a slave of information. News is a common way of publishing information. People’s mouths and faces have been deformed, and they are no longer humans as defined in the past.

MP IDEA 002 V2, Video, 49”, 1080P, June 2020, UK

Nowadays, with the continuous development of technology, network technology has brought about changes in people’s living conditions. The influence on people’s behaviour is obvious. Most people do not find their own values, their aesthetics are influenced by network culture and news media. Even the staff who carry out information release neglect themselves to become a broadcasting machine and a slave to information release. The rapid development of information technology has brought convenience for people to obtain information. At the same time, the authenticity of information is accompanied by the whole story of the information release strategy. Using big data technology to transform human thoughts, and then behaviour manipulation becomes possible.

Exhibition Plan

Exhibition Plan Video, 2’29”, 1080P, July 2020, UK

Portfolio of Trans-Neural-Creature


Ye Wu is an artist and visual designer working with a variety of processes and mediums such as graphic design, interactive installations, and photography. He has been a teacher of graphic design and digital media art for many years. His recent work focuses on the impact of human technological development on post-humanism. The continuous development of human technology has brought about changes in human behaviour and appearance. Post-humanism human psychoanalysis is the focus of his thinking. He is aiming to enlighten viewers, giving people access to his thoughts and feelings regarding this method of conception and the effect it has had on identity during posthuman. Using personal experience as inspiration, his work consists of narrative and form, giving the viewers an insight into his thought whilst reflecting on their own. At the same time, He studies the meaning of the macro world brought about micro photography and pursue the philosophical connection between the universe and life. He having been involved in multiple collaborative projects from different creative faculties, he recognizes the importance of artist collaboration. His other areas of interest are the micro world, the current state of contemporary society, psychoanalysis and dreams.

Dandan Xu

In-Between Series, 2020, installation

In-Between Series


In-Between Series expresses the sense of distance between people, between two countries, and between the surface of the body and the heart. This series uses a brush and a bottle of ink as the connecting objects, which are transferred layer by layer. Participants will write down the names of the people they miss during the lockdown on their skins and use videos to record behaviors to reduce the distance between people during infectious diseases. Combining the concept of the city, the private space and the public space are combined to present the relationship between people and public space to the audience.

In-Between Series1

Video, 4’45”, 2020

In-Between Series2

Video, 0’35”, 2020

In-Between Series3

Video, 8’25”, 2020

In-Between Series4

Video, 5’05”, 2020

In-Between Series5

Video, 2’57”, 2020

In-Between Series6

Video, 1’13”, 2020

In-Between Series7

Video, 5’00”, 2020

In-Between Series8

Video, 17’57”, 2020


Xu Dandan is an artist who recently explored the role of skin as a subject and medium in contemporary art. As well as the relationship between the body and public space. Through these elements, the audience feels a sense of strangeness and distance. This strangeness comes from the potential relationship between private space and public space, the transformation of the known and the unknown.

The major project is based on practice and uses video recording behavior as a response method to COVID-19. Participants included some people isolated in the UK, including herself. Even in harsh environments, short-term joy usually comes from artistic and collective expression. The coronavirus will change the way we work and study. However, this will not eliminate the body’s desire for public space.



Contemporary Arts China

Taiba Akhtar

The unprecedented has enabled a rise in personal and cryptic text, expressing the frustrations of re-shifting work practices and feelings. Consequently, the film and audio derive from the struggles Akhtar experienced during the SARS-CoV-2 lockdown.

The palimpsestic notions of application, erasure and regeneration integrate her making and its reconsideration, in relation to mark resist (50 x 70 cm), 80gsm copier paper with sumi ink, (21 x 29.7 cm) and etching (39 x 55 cm). The layering of words, physical actions, mediums and ideas accompanied by spontaneous encounters outlines the importance of memories and their inability to dissipate.

Before the national lockdown, the print room and its processes became a place of contentment. This recollection of the past simultaneously coincides, joyful and melancholic expressions between her inner soul and the activities undertaken.

Akhtar’s printing logs fused with the physicality of G.06 leads to an obscuring of time, journey and movement, heard via the nuances in erased characters and words in transit, reiterating the role of impermanence, caught between feelings and actions.  


Taiba Akhtar’s practice explores the organic nature of handmade marks inspired through religious and cultural entities, communicating a sense of language and mark making, adjoined to materials and processes. Notions of home, belief, permanence and impermanence integrate the visual and verbal, unfolding different motifs and hidden meanings.

Akhtar’s use of language becomes blurred and obscured with an emphasis on displacement and fluxity, juxtaposed within her interplay of symbols and scripts. Layering intensifies Akhtar’s journey of self, derived from the constant recitation of Quranic verses, of allusion to meditation and intuition. Similarly, forms of visibility and unintelligibility correlate to time and the passing of time, entangling thoughts, feelings and actions.

Akhtar’s narratives vary across the seen and heard reassembling what was there, what is there and what might be, centralising a palimpsest. Consequently, her manipulative gestures reinforce an array of emotions and expressions; rhizomatic with her experiences thus, an enhanced ritual understanding. Her abstraction of language becomes performative, through the guise of writing, reciting and rewriting.

Lucy Parris


Monoprint and relief print on mixed media, 2020

Edgelands, relief and woodblock print on mixed media


My work examines our relationship with place and space. Using walking as a methodology, my practice considers concepts of Edgelands, location and belonging. My ideas are embodied through a range of media including print works, shared walking, video and artists books.

I explore how walking can be used as a creative medium, most recently I organised a participatory socially distanced walk, bringing together a group of artists to walk simultaneously in separate, diverse locations, with the intention of sharing experiences of the renegotiation of boundaries brought about by the current pandemic situation.

Socially distanced, Covid Walking

Reaching a wider audience / outdoor gallery

Reflecting the importance of the phenomenological aspect of walking and acknowledging that the audience will exist beyond the gallery, my work is accessible via a QR code. Posted along routes I frequently walk, other walkers are able to scan the code to view past projects and invites for future participatory events. In order for this to have as little environmental impact as possible the codes are printed with edible ink on potato starch paper, which will, by design, dissolve in the next rain, allowing for repeat postings coinciding with new projects.

Walking as a part of creative process is well documented. I take inspiration from a well established tradition of artist walkers, writers and creatives. I compiled a selection of my own thoughts and reflections, alongside writing and ideas from an abundance of these into a series of artist books intended as to be read whilst on a walk.

Suixin Zhang

“Obviously, the theme is nature.

We are human beings, and nature has slipped away from us, er have become estranged from it.

We have methods for approaching it, for bridging the gap, for trying to understand nature.

One such method is science.

It asks questions and answers them with names and models.

However, it can only answer the questions which have been formulated.

But where questions can no longer be formulated and answers are nonetheless given, we are in the domain of art. 

– Paul-Armand Gette. <Transplant>

Project: Planting the City

-“Planting the city” is a hypothetic scenario that I have explored through practice-based research that aims to imagine a possible world where man-made objects or things have life of their own. It originates from my personal understanding and observation of the changes between the city and nature:

Within an imaginary city, buildings would then breath, feel, grow and die in the same way as other living things such as plants or trees.

-The project is going to divide into three parts. 

In the first part, I will create a “planting space” based on plant propagator (a covered, typically container filled with earth or compost, used for germinating or raising seedlings). In the second part, I will record the “growth process” of these small buildings in the form of photos and observation diaries (Pseudoscience record).

Third part: I shall walk in Birmingham to look for illegally growing green belts and plant urban bricks. Moreover, I will collect the elements affecting urban growth such as air, soil, and the plants in these environments through 100 self-made planting city record sheets. In the form of metaphor, I endeavour to imagine how the planting city grows.

Part1. – Building area (Installation), 2020
Part2. – Recording (Excerpts), 2020

Part3. – Recording Sheet (Excerpts), 2020

-The size of recording sheets( 10cm x 8cm) is to allow the audience to paste these records in any corner they want in the physical display room after finishing watching. I strongly encourage them to do so, since this action exactly corresponds to my planting behavior in the city of Birmingham. At the same time, the audience can be better encouraged to participate in the atmosphere created by the artwork.

Suixin Zhang

Zhang Suixin is an artist who expresses her attitude by exploring the contrast between different materials. Plants, paper and the practice of Chinese painting are the main elements of her works.

Those works generally focus on the fundamental question that affect normal life, such as natural decline, urban construction, and cultural conflicts. Besides, she also good at using tiny, unique personal narration to reshape these grandiose themes.




Contemporary Arts China

Ciprian Grigorescu

Morning Exchange – Binaries

Series of 13 looped 15 second animations – variable formats 2020.

Morning Exchange is a collaboratively run project that organises research meetings, conversations, workshops and artist talks. One key rationale behind them is to better acquaint current students and staff with practitioners working beyond the walls of the SoA. An online record of the weekly meets is available online at, through which reading lists and notes gathered in the meets will be more broadly available.

The website acts both as an online platform archiving our previous meetings and collaborations and as a place to engage with resources, projects and reflexive practice; a news source for upcoming events and a home for a platform that is based around the previously mentioned core beliefs – organising meetings, research groups, collaborative projects and commissioned artworks.

The project Binaries stems from research conducted through the activity of Morning Exchange combined with personal investigation into foundational principles that sit at the core of organising collaborative structures. The binary notions function as building blocks for figuring out positions and points of reference, some appear to be in opposition, others in a state of complementarity; all presenting symbiotic relations that are considered through reflexive thought.

The looped 13 videos take inspiration from the idea of a deconstructed visual essay. They are designed to easily be disseminated online, adapting to different forms of representation – from screensavers to vertical video for mobile devices and even print formats. Freely available for download – their purpose is to be experienced independently on personal devices without the need for gallery / exhibition space access.

Binaries is a personal perspective, presented in a state of liminality – between an ambiguous generative viewing experience and investigative reflection – between artwork and online resource.

To view all 13 videos visit Morning Exchange here.
To download the videos click for horizontal or vertical.
To download A4 print files click here.


I define my practice as existing at the border of artistic gesture, design process and research.
It often stems from investigative research into subjects that puzzle and challenge my own perspective, adding to that ideas and conclusions derived from collaborative projects, conversations, workshops and interviews.
Roles such as organiser, mediator and producer take a foundational role in the direction projects take.
Between all of these, self referential traces can be found, distant connections and juxtapositions of ideas and visuals that act as generative content for a larger conversation.