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'I've used design inspiration from all kinds of mushrooms': The stories behind graduates' exhibition pieces

PUBLISHED: 11:30 29 June 2019 | UPDATED: 09:15 01 July 2019

Milly Symis, who is graduating from Norwich University of the Arts' fine art course. Her degree show piece is designed to represent the sights - and smells - in the aftermath of a children's birthday party. Picture: Denisa Ilie

Milly Symis, who is graduating from Norwich University of the Arts' fine art course. Her degree show piece is designed to represent the sights - and smells - in the aftermath of a children's birthday party. Picture: Denisa Ilie

Denisa Ilie

Students graduating from Norwich University of the Arts this summer share the stories behind their degree show pieces.

Louise Fitzgerald is graduating from Norwich University of the Arts' illustration course. Her collection of reusable products is inspired by plant science research at the John Innes Centre in Norwich. Picture: Denisa IlieLouise Fitzgerald is graduating from Norwich University of the Arts' illustration course. Her collection of reusable products is inspired by plant science research at the John Innes Centre in Norwich. Picture: Denisa Ilie

From art and animation to architecture, the breadth of creative talent in a Norwich university's 2019 graduating class is being showcased around the city.

The Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) degree show is one of the biggest exhibitions of undergraduate art, design, media and architecture in the country, featuring thousands of pieces.

This year's event will see the work of more than 700 students exhibited around the campus, including a host of award winners and the first ever graduating cohort from its interior design course.

Prof Neil Powell, NUA pro vice chancellor (academic), said: "Once again, students are demonstrating their creativity and the potency of their ideas alongside their mastery of the professional and technical skills associated with their discipline."

Entrance to the Degree Show is free and the exhibition runs until Wednesday, July 3.

'Photography is what I need to do now'

Hannah Drew is graduating from Norwich University of the Arts' photography course. She has been working with the property and hotel group Bliss after a chance meeting on a photoshoot in Blakeney. Picture: Denisa IlieHannah Drew is graduating from Norwich University of the Arts' photography course. She has been working with the property and hotel group Bliss after a chance meeting on a photoshoot in Blakeney. Picture: Denisa Ilie

Hannah Drew is about to graduate from the photography course, having split her time studying at NUA with working as a 999 call handler.

But while at a photoshoot on location in Blakeney she met the couple behind the Bliss property and hotel group - and their teenage daughter, Edith, who became the model for Hannah's series of portraits.

The striking photographs have opened up the chance to work with the Bliss team on shoots around the country.

"I was planning to start paramedic training in October, so I've got two opportunities to do something I love - but I think photography is what I need to do now and see where it goes," she said.

Experimenting with scents

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Milly Symis, who is graduating from the fine art course, is among a handful of artists shortlisted for the John Ruskin Prize from more than 3,000 entrants nationally. Her two-panelled piece Nostalgia will be on show in the award exhibition in Manchester from July 12.

Another of her works is on display in the NUA degree show: a large scale painting of the aftermath of a children's birthday party which is not just a feast for the eyes, but gives off a powerful scent of bubblegum.

"I've explored how I can make paintings textured - and touchable - and then decided to take it a step further and added scents," she said.

"I've enjoyed watching people looking at the painting and trying to figure out where the smell is coming from."

Finding the art in plant science

Louise Fitzgerald, who is graduating from the illustration course, has been inspired by the work of researchers at the John Innes Centre in Norwich on the bacteria mycelium and the role it can play in creating environmentally-friendly products.

Rowan Collins and Olivia Bush, founders of the Norridge pop-up porridge cafe, are graduating from Norwich University of the Arts' design for publishing course. They have written a cookbook for their final project. Picture: Denisa IlieRowan Collins and Olivia Bush, founders of the Norridge pop-up porridge cafe, are graduating from Norwich University of the Arts' design for publishing course. They have written a cookbook for their final project. Picture: Denisa Ilie

She has created a collection of reusable products including food wax wraps and tote bags which she hopes will give people an insight into plant science.

"Researching mycelium has opened my mind to how damaging the materials we use every day are, but by using natural materials we can reduce the impact of our lifestyles," she said.

"I have used design inspiration from all kinds of mushrooms to bring life and colour to an unfamiliar subject."

'Our business and studies have always fed into one another'

Olivia Bush and Rowan Collins, both about the graduate from the design for publishing course, are founders of the Norridge pop-up porridge cafe brand.

After expanding their brand with seasonal pop-ups, event catering and photography, they have produced a cookbook for the final year project.

"We have always run Norridge alongside university. The two have always fed into one another, so for our final university project we wanted to bring them together fully," they said.

"The book encapsulates all that Norridge is. It encourages a slower, more intentional lifestyle that is kind to both us and the planet, and it encourages the reader to find joy in eating in a way that makes the most of the seasons and local produce."

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