University of Derby MA Degree Show

University of Derby | Degree Show 2021.



All nine students here have been creating and developing their practice at a unique and challenging moment in history – during a global pandemic. This has inevitably impacted on the way they have been able to make work. What this show demonstrates is that even in extreme adversity creative minds will flourish.

Some have used printing techniques that they could manage at home; others have made temporary sculptural interventions in a domestic context. For some the situation impacted on the type of subject matter they could tackle in a suddenly shrunken world. They have looked inwards and reflected more on their own lives and relationships. Others took on nature at a microscopic scale rendered large in the final prints. Some consider the industrial processes of the past filtered through a contemporary conceptual reframing.

What this collection of work demonstrates is the creative resilience of artists to adapt and respond to the world around them.  The MA teaching staff at The University of Derby are hugely proud of all that the students have managed to achieve in such a challenging context. It confirms for us that they all have a promising artistic future ahead.

Camilla Brown
Curator, Writer and Academic

Our Staff

Rodger Brown – Programme Leader MA Fine Art
Vered Lahav – Programme Leader MA Film & Photography
Camilla Brown – Associate Lecturer of History and Theory of Photography
Robert Burstow – Associate Professor of History and Theory of Art

Arthur Wright


After studying a Photography BA at Nottingham Trent University in the early 90’s, I went on to work as a language teacher and freelance photographer in Madrid, Spain, before coming back to study Fine Art here in Derby. The experience of doing an MA has been a real odyssey for me, revisiting some old recuring themes and combining them with new ideas and ways of working during a very challenging time for the creative sector, and humanity as a whole.  

My creative process is often triggered by a word, such as Phusis coming from the Greek for Nature / the nature of / force of nature. I try to unpack the word through images and forms; I then iterate and edit these, following clues, in the hope of unconcealing some kind of truth which lies beneath image, word, form. This current work stems from an interest in Speculative Futurist narratives and prescient themes in culture such as posthumanism, transhumanism and cyberspace as an atemporal realm where past, present and future merge.

I am fascinated by future mythologies and frequently surprised by the imagery thrown up in the visual ideation stages, at the start of my process – right now, not so surprisingly, it’s images of plague and social turmoil. Another theme which runs through the work is humanity’s relationship with technology, which is poised at a delicate balance between what is liberating, and what has the potential to damage and enslave.



Avalon Oakes


Stemming from a long-term fascination with the microscopic world my current body of work explores the idea of an alternate Utopian universe where the unseen element of the landscape has begun to take over the seen element.

The microscopic world is a place that contains never-ending phenomena and is only able to be explored through the use of scientific technology. Inspired by the notion of the uncanny, in my new work I have created images that represent mother nature or the unseen forces of nature, overtaking and reclaiming the urban landscape that has been altered and destroyed by humanity. Within the images often familiar settings have now become unfamiliar; a flowing river is in fact at second glance not a river at all and something unusual is occurring within the sky above the urban buildings that we are so used to encountering. Achieved through the process of merging contemporary scientific and digital technologies with traditional printmaking techniques this merging of the old and the new creates new visual planes of existence that can be interpretated in different ways by the viewer.

Instagram:   (@avaloneart)

MsDMeanar / Debbie Doodar / Deborah Rogers

Still Becoming…

I am an artist that uses a range of different materials and characters. I have worked under my performance name of MsDMeanar and in this character I play around with performative acts, looking for ways to transform myself. This has led me to explore notions of animalistic behaviours, shamanist traditions and rituals that help people improve health or make change in their lives. During the acts, I use materials that themselves transform and whose states are altered in a form of alchemy.

Debbie Doodar is the name I use when fabricating items and ideas for MsDMeanar to play with. As Debbie Doodar I reconstruct garments and make soft sculptures for use during the performative actions. MsDMeanar has recently become dog headed. Merging with my dog Percy, I am drawing on the myth of the cynocephalus, the strangers whose voice is closer to a bark, and who are consequently misunderstood and misrepresented.

What remains of these acts and collaborations are the documents I produce using photomontage and printmaking to create a series of self-portraits, and the supportive fabrications. The body of prints portrays a relatively calming element to the experienced chaos of transformation. I feel they are an attempt at grounding myself during this very difficult time of life. I am desperately grasping for rituals that I can believe in to assist me in my becoming and ever hopeful that I can find the best characteristics to help me get through it and thrive once on the other side.

My practice also involves the audience and collaborating with strangers. I focus on gender and identity in my work, I’m interested from a feminist perspective how women are seen in society as they age and change.


Elliot Arrowsmith


A reflection on health, a global pandemic and the mundane, Ancora explores the themes of mental health, physical disability and two nationwide lockdowns. Ancora is the Italian word for anchor and is equally used as an adverb to mean ‘yet’, ‘again’ and ‘more’. Health and mental state are always at risk of fluctuations and are of a cyclical nature, yet temporarily anchored in place through intervention, treatment and often ineffective attempts at stabilisation.

Day to day life is shown through gloomy stills on black and white film, paired with extreme contrast and acidic colour images. Reflective of the physical state, blurred images of walks down empty streets and low light prints sit alongside harsh architectural shots and self-confessing photographs.

The work has been produced on a wide range of formats – from Polaroid to huge 4×5 sheet negatives dependent on mood and whim. Intimate documents sit as artifacts, redacted as appropriate to show life with the conditions Bipolar, Fibromyalgia and a treatment induced combination of neurological problems. Keeping in time with fluctuation, deterioration and improvement, the effort to keep on working becomes forever more a portrayal of personal truth.

While photography has the capacity to exhibit the whole truth, the authority of the author only permits the viewer to see what they wish for them to see.

Instagram: @e.arrowphoto

Hazel Hutchison


My practice considers ideas of illness, vulnerability, adaptation and resilience. I have been exploring a personal examination of bodily and mental fragility within the context of domestic confinement.

My own experience of emergency surgery in 2019 and the period of physical vulnerability and restraint endured through recovery, bears similarities with our collective experience of lockdown in 2020.

Route 2021 illustrates another step towards a personal recovery mentally or, as the title suggests, a journey. I wanted to demonstrate a motivation to be out more in nature while inside during lockdown and to reflect the connection between myself, my body, and the adaptations found there. Conceptually I wanted to investigate how external factors influence appearance and draw parallels with my own body post-surgery; observing the idea that not just humans go through hardship, also nature does itself.

Both of my artistic processes are related to the impact to wellbeing that the experience gave me; I use economical photographic processes (developing photographic negatives with coffee/soda washing/vitamin C) that are considered a lower risk to health, which I then display onto glass to covey fragility emotionally felt.  



Jagoda Wlezlak

Marriage Life – the first year

On August 10, 2019, after my previous project ‘Bride Story’, I started my next photography project, which we can simply call Marriage Life. Presented in the pictures from the perspective of women, who enters the next stage of life, which is being a wife, and for everyone, it means something completely different.

I created a book, including photographs taken from 10.08.19 to 10.08.20 using a disposable camera. I photographed my life, my husband, my fears, my happy and bad moments of everyday life.  Many of these pictures have symbolic meaning and can be interpreted in many ways, exactly the same as all marriages are different and everyone looks into it in an individual way.


Megan Doyle

Erratic Instances

I am a visual artist who uses sculpture, installation and drawing. My work is primarily concerned with the fragility of materials and how they can be manipulated.

The ideas behind Erratic Instances steam from an interest in interstitial space, that is the space between structures & objects. I became particularly interested in the invisible spaces of everyday objects such as the insides of cardboard boxes, tubes and empty cartons. I used liquid materials such as plaster, wax and resin. These materials exist in two different states, both liquid and solid. Once set they represent a concreate cast of a once overlooked invisible space.

The objects that compromise the installation investigate surface texture, sculptural form and their opaque and translucent qualities.

The making of the work is an important element within my practice as it allows me to keep the work interesting and moving forward. Erratic Instances was a title I used to describe my ice sculptures that were erratic in nature and gone in an instant. An ever-changing set of sculptures they challenged the notion of sculpture being a fixed static thing. They shifted and changed until you couldn’t see them at all and only a memory of the sculpture remained. The materials used in the final installation were perhaps a little less erratic than I had wanted them to be, maybe the more appropriate title of the work should have been Temporal Instances!


Mary Wojcicki (Woji)

Metal Bones

Mary Wojcicki and Jon Pask are sound artists who have been collaborating on various aural works under the name Woji & Noisulate.

My practice draws from the surrounding environment harvesting raw data and sound from nature. Listening closely in different environments, I retrieve found sounds. I use various recordings, video footage and software, playfully accentuating aspects of the original whilst facilitating a transformation. I amplify sounds that would otherwise be overlooked in order to destabilize the hierarchy of sound itself.

I am interested in sounds which shape our social auditory landscape and inform our wider shared consciousness. I am currently working with recorded tracks and video, both generated and found, to explore the acousmatic nature of sound and how it alters according to context, architecture, and when interacted with by people. I use hybrid technologies to develop and create new aural combinations. There is an emphasis on empathy in my work that seeks to explore people, historical events and natural phenomena.


Jon Pask (Noisulate)

Digital Painting

Mary Wojcicki and Jon Pask are sound artists who have been collaborating on various aural works under the name Woji & Noisulate.

As a sound artist I am interested in the intricacies and nuances of sound as a medium.

My practice involves creating aural experiences which draw an audience’s attention to sounds and sonic events which usually go unnoticed. Working with a range of electronic equipment I am able to create a variety of what I call physical and non physical sound sculptures. The physical sculptures use materials in a traditional sense, whilst generating sound, where as the non-physical sculptures act as sound compositions and have no material substance. These sculptures interact acoustically with the space they are situated in, and draw emphasis to the acoustic and historic aspects of their locations.