How an art lecturer defied odds to run a student exhibition during the pandemic
The pandemic and the resulting lockdown of the country has put many things on hold for a lot of people. How we interact with each other has evolved and more people have utilised the capabilities of technology that is around us to stay in touch with friends, family, and continue working where possible.
However, what isn’t a common thing for people to worry about is running an art exhibition in the middle of lockdown. However, Pawel Szymanski (Pav), Art Lecturer at South Devon College, was far from worried. He had a solution.
It was by no means an easy task, but what Pav did was nothing short of incredible. He hosted the Pandemic Art Summer Show 2020 in a virtual form, replacing the traditional exhibition that would normally be physically attended at South Devon College.
Using Zoom, 139 artists took part in the exhibition with over 1935 artefacts on display. 18 countries wererepresented: UK, USA, Switzerland, Canada, Nigeria, Serbia, Italy, The Philippines, Russia, China, Australia, Mexico, Spain, Poland, Argentina, Bahrain, UAE andGreece.
The event was a great success and continuing this event in the only way possible was appreciated by all of those involved.
Pav said: “I wasn’t going to let anything stand in the way of the students proudly displaying their work that they had invested so much time and effort into. It was an ambitious event to run of this scale online but it ran smoothly and it gave even more people the chance to see the fantastic emerging talent here at the College.
“Following the success of the event, I decided an online magazine would be the most appropriate way to commemorate this unique event and also continue toelevate the students’ thinking. It also gave us a chance to explain the meaning and significance of some of the pieces on display in more detail. And so, Art Foundry Magazine was born. This is the beginning of a quarterly magazine run by new students every year ensuring continuity and legacy.”
You can also view the work of all the artists involved in the exhibition at artpandemic.co.uk, including over 20 guest artist appearances, creative staff from the College and their students ranging from entry level to degree.
For more information on creative and artistic courses, visit southdevon.ac.uk where you can find all of the courses on offer. If you have any questions, get in touch by calling 08000 380 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about this story, please contact Tom Davey, Marketing and Communications Officer, at email@example.com or on 01803 540563.
Notes to Editors:1. South Devon College is a general Further & Higher Education college and degree awarding body, serving Torbay, Teignbridge and the South Hams, with campuses at Paignton, Torquay, Newton Abbot, and South Devon Marine Academy based on the River Dart in Kingswear.2. The College provides teaching and learning to around 10,000 students per year, has over 700 staff and contributes £30 million to the local economy each year.3. The College Mission is “inspiring our community through learning for all”4. The College provides teaching and learning at all levels, including: GCSEs, A Levels, technical and professional programmes, Higher Education degrees, apprenticeships, community learning, business training and bespoke services for businesses. 5. The College’s age range begins at 14 through South Devon High School, an exceptional opportunity for pupils entering Key Stage 4, offering direct entry to full time core GCSE and vocational programmes of study.6. The College has a successful and well established apprenticeship programme, providing work-based training to 1,500 apprentices of all ages and working with nearly 700 employers in 2018/19.7. The College offers high-quality university degrees, with Foundation Degrees, Honours Degrees, Top-up programmes and Higher National Diplomas and Certificates, delivered in partnership with the University of Plymouth, as well as award winning professional courses in management and accountancy.8. The College was awarded the PLATINUM Investors in People Award for its staff development and training in 2017, the highest level achievable.9. University Centre South Devon was awarded with the GOLD rating from the Teaching Excellence Framework(TEF) in 2017, the highest level achievable. 10. The College won the national TES FE award for Employer Engagement in 2017 and was shortlisted for the ‘TES College of the Year Award 2018’, and regularly features at the top of the league table rankings for employer satisfaction, learner satisfaction and other key benchmarks.11. The College is committed to investing in the community and local economy. Construction has recently been completed on the Hi Tech & Digital Centre, the South Devon College Sports Centre, as well as planning future marine sector initiatives.
I have received a personal invitation to submit some of my recent pieces to an international exhibition organised by Artoze. I was a featured artist in the last edition of their magazine. I was very touched to be recognised and invited again:
Hope you’re doing great!
It’s my pleasure to e-meet you and introduce you to this amazing opportunity that could be an interest for you and your beloved ones to let the creativity be showcased on an International Platform.’
I have spent the whole morning preparing relevant information and refining my artist statement. At the moment, I am ready to submit 12 paintings to be included in this show.
I have included a screenshot of the confirmation email below:
|LINK TO THE EXHIBITION:|
I was invited by Al-Tiba9 to the opening of its online contemporary exhibition that takes
part in a Special EDITION – Al-Tiba9 Global 2020. It featuring artists from around the
world in a series of online shows to reflect contemporary perspectives and inspirations
that impact on our future.
This particular 8th Edition aims to give the artist a curated show and extensive
international exposure that helps them to deal with the online technologies and
confront their works and creativity in a virtual environment.
Opening exhibition 20.06.2020 at 6:00pm GMT+2
Featured Artists are:
Alexandra Freitas (Portugal) – Joram Blomkwist (Netherlands) – Braun & Braunschweig
(Germany) – Conceiçao Abreu (Portugal) – Gianni Lucchesi (Italy) – Hong Taeyang
(South Korea) – Jieyuan Huang (China) – Joe Karlovec (USA) – Kaoru Shibuta (Japan) –
Naoki Okada (Japan) – Povilas Daknys (Lithuania) – Raki Nikahetiya (Sri Lanka) –
Ray Ewing (USA) – Ronald Gonzalez (USA) – Sarah Tompkins (Canada) – Wong Tin Wai
(China) – Val Wecerka (Bulgaria) – Vasya Dmytryk (Ukraine) – Yvonne Lin (China)
The exhibition was opened by Anna Shvets, who is an art manager, an expert on trends in
the world of art and CEO at TAtchers’ ART Management. She believes that art can be a
unique language that unites countries and continents, culture and science.
She is an internationally recognised arts manager.
I have been invited to participate in a fascinating international interactive screening of the film “The World Before Your Feet” and conference event. It was organised by ATÖLYE, Dubai’s Creative Hub, in partnership with Palmwood, American Film Showcase and the US Consulate in Dubai.
There are 8,000 miles of roads and paths in New York City and for the past six years Matt Green has been walking them all—every street, park, cemetery, beach, and bridge.
Executive produced by Oscar nominee Jesse Eisenberg and directed by Jeremy Workman, “The World Before Your Feet” is a tribute to an endlessly fascinating city and the freedom to be found, wherever you live, in simply taking a walk.
The team of filmmaker experts were presents:
I am very excited to take part in this amazing venture, which was attended by filmmaker Jeremy Workman, executive producer Jesse Eisenberg and the wanderer himself Matt Green. All live conversations were moderated by Emirati filmmaker Amal Al Agroobi.
A screenshot of a thank you email is below:
I have been invited by a leading design agency in Dubai called ATÖLYE to take part in 5 prestigious workshops. The aim of this venture is to explore the mind in order to develop new and innovative ideas. I am thrilled to network again with creative individuals from all-over-the-world.
June 1: INTRO TO MNDBARAn introduction to the MNDBAR mind-fitness approach and the ‘Possibilities Mindset’.
June 8: MIND CONNECTA strengthening session to understand how the mind works and how we can connect to clear thinking by setting priorities.
June 15: MIND PRESENCEAn endurance session to practice making space in our thinking for listening, responding, and engaging more effectively.
June 22: MIND SHIFTA flexibility session in which shifting perspectives can lead to new and innovative opportunities.
June 29: MIND ACTIONA mobility session where experimentation and play begin to build ideas into new realities.
MNDBAR sets out to help individuals cultivate their ’Possibilities Mindset’. Through a series of mind-fitness experiences, participants build their capacity for clear thinking & innovative problem solving. As the future accelerates, this mindset is imperative for optimised performance & greater impact in the workplace.
ATÖLYE is a community-powered creative services organisation that brings together a strategic design studio, creative hub, and learning academy in one. With hubs in Istanbul and most recently Dubai, ATÖLYE creates a fertile environment for individuals and organisations, who want to create together, for the better.
I am absolutely thrilled for my work to be selected to be printed in June’s edition of the Artoze.Global magazine. I am also published as a featured artist.
I have submitted my portfolio to be published and showcased by Artoze. The confirmation screenshot is below:
My work has been selected to be featured in this month’s edition of this publication.
I have enclosed a screenshot of the confirmation email below:
I have composed a long summary of my achievements and practice. The purpose of this was to create a submission for the ArtMaze Mag. I have attached a confirmation screenshot below:
I have submitted my work to the prestigious Altiba9 international exhibition. I have also composed a new portfolio saved as a PDF file, especially for this purpose.
I have attached a screenshot of the email below:
I have just been interview by Jasmine Meekings. She is one of the editors of the Art Foundry Magazine. This quarterly publication comments on a broad range of developments and complexities in the contemporary creative world. It contains several exciting interviews with artists from all-over-the-world and interprets their work and achievements.
The transcript of the interview is below:
- What is your contribution to the Virtual Summer Exhibition 2020 and what has motivated you to create this body of work?
Normally, we hold an end-of-the-year exhibition at the Gallery at South Devon College. Due to the pandemic, we were forced to move to the online learning environment. To make this event even more meaningful and exciting, I have reached out to a wide range of artists from all-over-the-world and a selection of former students. This has helped to elevate the prestige of this event and enable it to be viewed by many more people across different international boundaries, locations and time zones.
All staff have also been invited to exhibit their work to create a sense of cohesive artistic community. I will be taking part in the Virtual Summer Show and present my recent paintings and video work. These pieces were developed in response to my long-term research project based on exploring human responses to hypnotic repetition. I have gathered a broad range of primary sources from my travels. The most significant work was produced in consequence of my experiences in Haiti, Azerbaijan, Thailand and Myanmar.
2. What has your response been to COVID-19 as an artist? Has it affected your practice or how you operate?
The current lockdown has given me a chance to reflect on both my practice and the research findings. Subsequently, my present observations contradict the former status quo. The repetitive and mundane existence of people, who genuinely struggle with their survival has become something they yearn for. The nightmare of the past is now a desired dream for the future.
Paradoxically, the crisis has had a very positive and broadening impact on my visual exploration, journey of thought and understanding of the human tragedy and challenges.
3. What would you say is the role of an artist during this pandemic? Furthermore, what would your message be to other artists during this time?
The role of an artist is to develop a response to the broader contexts and visualise a subjective interpretation of the world. The pandemic encourages everyone to become creative and substitute access to unlimited resources with ideas, invention and a deep reflection.
Therefore, ‘the artist’ should be seen as a commentator and a sensitive observer of the dynamics within the turbulent and ever-changing contemporary society.
We are all very privileged to be able to watch history being made and recorded for posterity.
This exhibition will be an authentic document of a unique set of circumstances, hopefully not to be repeated anytime soon.