46. Showing resolve - Issue 134 - Magazine | Monocle

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For students in creative disciplines such as art, fashion and design, degrees are built on campus, where there are teachers, materials and equipment to hand. So the lockdown has wreaked havoc and the effects are particularly severe for the graduating cohort, currently finishing collections at home. The biggest blow? Most colleges have cancelled final-year physical exhibitions and runway shows, which are traditionally the chance for students to show their work to the world. How will this generation ensure that they’re not forgotten?


Harris Reed
Student, MA Fashion,
Central Saint Martins, London

“I’m in my London flat working on my final collection; one of the pieces is exploding out of the room. Working from home is difficult but it’s made me fall in love with my craft. Part of me is devastated not to do the runway show; I’ve dreamt of [it] since I was an nine-year-old in Phoenix. But we’ll see innovative ways of showcasing work.”


Rachel Schreiber
Executive dean,
Parsons School of Design, New York

“We wanted to be sure that [when working from home] assignments could be completed no matter what you have. One student returned to her family home and didn’t have a workspace, so she made a desk from boxes and foam. That’s the quintessential Parsons moment: it’s about resilience, creativity and problem-solving.”


Linnea Nordquist
Student, BA Fashion Design,
London College of Fashion, London

“It’s uncertain if we’re going to have a showcase opportunity, which is sad. But I’ve started to see my work in terms of a bigger picture: this is not just a university project, it’s work I’m doing to grow as a designer. The graduate opportunity that has been a dream for many years is lost but better things will come out of this crisis.”


Ed Compson
Student, MA Painting,
Royal College of Art, London

“The graduate exhibition is the crux of art college. The physical building and curating of spaces together is so important for your links to the people around you, which can last a lifetime. Obviously networking, meeting gallery contacts and selling your work are important too but in many ways that’s missing the point.”


Sarah Gresty,
BA Fashion course leader,
Central Saint Martins, London

“Our fashion shows have an audience of 600 people. Some students are concerned that they won’t get the opportunities they would have had before but I don’t believe that. If you wanted to recruit a designer who was flexible and able to do something amazingly creative with limited resources, you’d look to this year’s graduates, wouldn’t you?”


Jinya Yamakawa
Student, Fine Arts,
Parsons School of Design, New York

“In March I left New York to go home to Japan; I’ve been participating in classes via video calls but the chance of returning to New York in autumn for the final show is slim. I’m embracing this opportunity to grow my work, which deals with how the pandemic is causing the downfall of healthcare and economic systems.”

Monocle comment: Not being able to show final collections is devastating. But resourcefulness – in what students create and how they show it – will shine out.

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