STUDENTS at the University of Reading are showcasing their work connecting people and nature in an interactive virtual exhibition.
Artwork from five students has been selected for display in the 15th Nature Created by Design exhibition, hosted by Seoul Institute of the Arts in South Korea.
It includes a digital recreation of an art gallery, allowing visitors to move around and view the art on display as if they were in a physical building, even while art galleries remain closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
This year’s exhibition theme is Coexistence, exploring how animals and plants can live in harmony.
Professor Susanne Clausen, who directs international partnerships at Reading School of Art, said: “This was an opportunity for our students to respond to a pressing global issue and take their work to an international stage.
“Climate Change and the effects of the Anthropocene, the period of time during which human activities have had an environmental impact on the Earth, are of great interest and concern to artists and students at the moment, and even though it is becoming a distinct area of research in art, it is in fact a historical condition that informs and impacts on all of contemporary art.
“In art we are fortunate to be part of this network of universities who have been working on the topic continuously over the last few years.
“This is an annual exhibition that normally takes place on site, in one of our partner universities across the world, and it is a major opportunity for our students to collaborate with international peers and to reflect on the future of the natural environment.”
Fine Art student Eli Finn Taryn created a series of paintings combining scientific objects in imagined environments, such as a submarine and drone in the deep ocean, surrounded by unfamiliar creatures and natural formations.
Eli, who is in his final year at Reading, said he wanted the paintings to highlight how little we actually know about our natural surroundings, to build curiosity around the mystery with the aim to inspire people to protect the planet.
He said: “I find that art can be a way for the artist themselves and the viewers to contemplate their current ideas on the climate crisis. Sometimes the anger and frustration that arises from climate discussions can hinder any possible progress.
“However, if you instead can take a moment just to look at a picture, sculpture or video to see a different interpretation and allowing for silent reflection, maybe some minds could change.
“Studying Art at Reading, students and staff are all able to present their unique experiences through their medium of choice. We are then able to have a calm discussion afterwards. This has helped sculpt me into the person I am today. We all have something to say and we are all heard in this art community.”
Glacier, a photography piece by undergraduate Dalga Hasmetoglu, was inspired by a haircut at their home, something millions around the UK and worldwide will have experienced during the pandemic lockdowns.
Dalga said: “At the end of the hair cutting, when I stepped back and looked at the stool under the spotlight, it looked more than a stool with all the aspects around it. It seemed like a structure that should have been beyond the circumference of a household.”
The Nature Created by Design exhibition started in 2006. Reading joined in 2014 and has worked with the network since then to organise an annual joint exhibition, hosted by one of the partner universities in turn.
To view the online exhibition, visit: www.seoularts.ac.kr