Rhiannon Roberts, Residential Life Advisor
April 2021, spring is truly underway, flowers in bloom and the city becoming greener and more colourful.
Covid-19 had ripped through our world and given us some of the toughest challenges in our lifetime. As restrictions begin to ease and vaccinations are light at the end of the tunnel we began to hold some optimism for the rest of 2021.
ResiLife, as a service like all others had many challenges to overcome. To maintain supporting our students through this tough time whilst keeping those most at risk safe and well, and protecting our NHS. We too, like others felt the frustrations of screens and lack of contact.
As restrictions eased, our ResiLife events team began to flourish, we were finally able to deliver some events that allowed students to come together, meet people, laugh and smile.
Looking back at the at the calendar, World Art Day on the 15th of April, what a great way to celebrate by reflecting on a ‘year like no other’. We know how hard this was for you all. We felt the frustrations and difficulties you had but we felt a need to remember this, to show how much you have all overcome this year, how strong, how resilient, how great you are.
We asked students to think about their time here at Bristol this year, to capture this and create something spectacular to showcase at UoB which will last for many years to come.
We were stunned by the work we received, what a collection of wonderfully talented students we have. Here are some of our fantastic judges, and what they had to say.
Teddy Coward, Third Year, English
I’ve had the complete privilege this year of being the Co-Editor-in-Chief of Epigram, Bristol University’s award-winning newspaper. And what a year it was. From the Black Lives Matter protests last June (and the fall of the Colston statue) to the situation of COVID on campus; the largest university rent-strike in UK history to the recent ‘Kill the Bill’ demonstrations, this year has been an eventful one for Bristol students and, indeed, university students across the country.
All in all, it’s been a pretty torrid year for many first years, so a competition such as this, which not only provides an opportunity for a creative outlet but has also produced some fine works in the process was a fantastic thing to do – and I was pleased to help out, in whatever small way I could. Well done to everyone who took part. There are some remarkable pieces, but, more importantly, they collectively capture both the challenges we can all relate to and moments of personal intimacy. I look forward to the exhibition and the chance for us to look at them together. Everyone at Epigram wishes you all the best
Mary Price – Bristol based artist
“I felt very privileged to do this and enjoyed seeing the beautiful and insightful work created by the students.
The competition resonated with me hugely as during the pandemic I have been creating paintings aimed at bringing some optimistic colour to counteract the difficulty we have all experienced during this tough year.
The students’ work was in equal measure thoughtful, creative and revealing of the different perspectives inspired by the experience of studying during an extraordinary time.
Creativity and taking the time to make art is extremely beneficial to mental health as it grounds you in an activity in the moment. It gives the opportunity to temporarily suspend anxiety”.
Jacqueline Conradie-Faul, Residential Life Advisor
“It was an absolute pleasure and a privilege to be part of the panel. And lovely to hear about and see what others in the university are also doing in support of art and mental health”.
Mike O’Mahony – Professor of History of Art and Visual Culture at University of Bristol
“There were many really brilliant works produced and it felt a bit churlish to judge, but there you go. Had to be done. I really enjoyed the friendly, constructive and sharing discussion we all had and some lovely insights into all the works. The top three were all fantastic and each would have been a worthy winner. They should all be commended.”
Yasemin Akyol, second year history student and President of the Art Society for 2021/22
“Art has always been a huge part of my life and self-expression, and at uni this has been no different. I’m am really looking forward to taking on this role as President, hopefully pushing art at Bristol Uni to new boundaries.
Judging this competition was a huge pleasure. All of the pieces were incredible, showing great skill, but beyond that they were full of emotion reflecting how much of a difficult year this has been for all – especially students. Whilst each piece was individual and unique in its own way, all entries had a collective feel of struggle and frustration, but simultaneously a glimmer of hope in things that kept them going. Thank you to everyone who took part, sharing your experiences through creativity. Hopefully this year can be a more positive one and full of art!”
Special thanks to Sophie Long, a fantastic judge and inspirational local Bristol Artist.
Instagram – @sophielongart
Facebook – Sophie Long Art and Illustrations
Claire Slater, Director of Student Life and Wellbeing, Education Services Management
“The art competition really was the highlight of my year. The work submitted was of such a high standard and really summed up all our Covid years so powerfully. Thank you to everyone who took part and for my colleague Rhiannon who made this happen. Truly amazing all round.”
Congratulations to our winners, we did not have an easy time judging. In our eyes, you were all truly winners, but here are our top 3 and here’s what our judges had to say about your work.
“The frustration of not being able to go outside under the blue sky makes the longing to go outside stronger.”
1st place, Takumu Suzuki , MSc Palaeobiology. 2021
“Hauntingly beautiful and sad”.
“Style as well as subject screams isolation and anxiety”
“My piece sort of represents how I feel about online school. The colours feel a little monotonous and there’s nothing much going on. While we’re sheltered and safe, and lucky to be so, sometimes the stillness of it all can be suffocating. The world can seem closed off and dark, like there’s nothing exciting waiting for us outside the confines of our room. Anything we do can feel frustratingly futile, like you’d rather be doing anything else, but you don’t know what. I personally struggle to meet my own expectations when it comes to university work, but I also struggle to justify lowering them. I also experienced a great deal of homesickness since I couldn’t visit home at all since I first got here. All these things have contributed to the feeling of this piece, and I’m sure there will be other things people see in it that I have missed out on.”
2nd place, Anika Sharma, Computer Science with Innovation, 2021
“Wonderful ambiguities and clashes. Bright colours to emphasise darkness”
“Amazing colour; Idea of graffiti makes all the difference”
“Very creative – amazing colours and interpretation”
“Nobody wanted their next year at university to turn out the way it did. As a first year student, I have not had the uni freshers experience that I have always looked forward to. This piece is a self portrait done in charcoal. It encapsulates the year into one image: sitting in quarantine alone, staring at a laptop screen, fed up by the 100th zoom call. I have used different tones of charcoal to create a dramatic contrast between the dark, prison-like feeling in the bedroom, and the brightly lit laptop screen shining onto my face. The self portrait depicts a personal view of my mental health during this year, as well as how most of my time has been spent. The piece took 16 hours to produce.”
3rd place, Arisha Fancy, Environmental Geoscience BSc
“This is amazing – great skill”
We really wanted to display the work created and hold an event to celebrate in style, however, COVID-19 wasn’t quite ready for this.
After many attempts to organise this, we decided that this just wasn’t possible this year.
However, with thanks to Dana Davidson in Catering Operations, Senate House Marketplace and The Beckford bar, we have been able to arrange for some of this wonderful work to be displayed in our new Senate House Marketplace café and we are so excited for you to see it.
The work will be up by August 1st 2021 and will remain up until late October 2021, so please do pop along to our exhibition and let us know what you think, and how it makes you feel.
Thanks to all the students who submitted entries, our judges and to everyone who made this possible.
Follow ResiLife for more Art competitions in 21-22!
Instagram – UoBResilife
Facebook – UoBResiLife