Graduate Elliot Flanagan claimed that a professional brief to create art for the library set him up for his career as a professional artist.
Elliot was one of ten students selected by a judging panel to create art that was in line with the library’s 6.2 million refurbishment project.
Speaking at the launch of the artwork last week (30 November)., Elliot recalled when his Visual Arts class were presented with 18,000 withdrawn library books and asked to draw inspiration from them for the artwork.
He said: “We had 18,000 books to use and were given themes of ‘sense of place’ and ‘library in the park.’ With my work, I decided to mark an important cultural movement when angry young men wrote about the northern working class for the first time.
“I looked at the gritty kitchen sink dramas those men wrote in the 1950s and 60s and considered the portrayal of the working class now, which is often negative. From that I designed imagined book covers that could have fitted in this era. I wanted them to look dog-eared and worn.”
The brief itself was created by the library and Fuse Studios, who are responsible for the library’s redesign, meaning that students had to produce a commissioned piece of art that met the expectations of internal and external industry partners.
The involvement of students was essential as the library is a space for students. University Librarian, David Clay emphasised this in the night’s opening speech.
He said: “The library is a space for students with art created by our students. My colleagues and I are delighted with the artwork and how the artists responded to the brief. When I look at the pieces I see new things every time.”
Jill Randall (pictured below right), Senior Lecturer in Visual Arts, also spoke on the night remarking that the project was “fantastic from beginning to end.”
The unique pieces of art that now hang in the library were created by Jake Lyne, Claudia Alonso, Helen Woolstencroft, Cait Sparks, Elliot Flanagan, Jack Whittaker, Adrianna Borys, Daniel Wiltshire, Jamie Myers and Melissa Dolan.