September 22, 2021

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Staffordshire University’s art and design show captures lockdown life, the art behind illness and a pollution-busting app

Staffordshire University's art and design show captures lockdown life, the art behind illness and a pollution-busting app

A graphic design student has invented a new typeface to illustrate his battle with cystic fibrosis.

James Gibson came up with the ‘fibrosis sans’ font as part of the final-year project for his Staffordshire University degree.

Set against the backdrop of an x-ray of real-life lungs, the letters have a furred up appearance, with curls filled in as if they are full of mucus.

The 28-year-old, from Werrington, said: “It’s what cystic fibrosis does to the body.

“It been about giving a hidden disability some visibility. I’m extremely proud of how it’s turned out.”

Now James’s project is one of hundreds to feature in the university’s annual art and design degree show, which opens to the public on Monday.

It also marks the first physical event to be staged on campus since the start of the pandemic.



James Gibson with the typeface he has created to capture what it's like to have cystic fibrosis
James Gibson with the typeface he has created to capture what it’s like to have cystic fibrosis

The pieces cover work from a wide range of degrees, including fashion, ceramics, photography, animation, film, cartoon and comic arts, and surface pattern and textile design.

As James is classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, he has spent much of the last year shielding.

“With cystic fibrosis, I get regular chest infections and I tire a lot quicker,” he said.

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“The pandemic has also had its challenges. I haven’t been able to come in to see my peers. But I’m lucky that I’ve had the equipment to be able to continue at home.

“We’ve also had video feedback sessions. I can’t fault the teaching at all.”

He and the other students on his course have added an extra dimension to their exhibits – augmented reality.



Some of the art and design show exhibits use augmented reality
Some of the art and design show exhibits use augmented reality

Visitors to the show can scan an image of each student, which then triggers a video of them talking about their project. The hope is AR will be used across far more exhibits next year.

For Vicki Guildford, the pandemic has played a central role in her photography degree project. She wanted to capture its impact on children in her home village of Tean.

Armed with a trolley of camera equipment, she took socially distanced photos through front doors or windows.



Vicki Guildford, from Tean, who has produced photographs of children during lockdown
Vicki Guildford, from Tean, who has produced photographs of children during lockdown

The 39-year-old said: “The project looks into the face of confinement and the effects it has on a cross-section of children aged between five and 11.

“As adults, we can pick up the phone and speak to people, but young children can’t do that and were isolated from friends. Having an eight-year-old myself, I saw it firsthand.”

She also asked parents to write about how they were coping.

Industrial design student Liam Dawson has also been inventive with his final-year project.

He has created a device for monitoring air quality, which can be worn as a necklace, badge or other accessory.

It then sends data about volatile organic compounds (VOCs), humidity and temperature to a server, which records the information on an app.



Liam Dawson with his air pollution monitor device
Liam Dawson with his air pollution monitor device

The 21-year-old, from Lightwood, said: “You can see it in real time. It’s also a community-sourced data collecting device as you can share the information with local councils.”

It could then be used to tackle pollution hotspots or for individual users to change their daily behaviour so they cut their exposure to different kinds of pollution. App users can also share data with each other.

Dani McMaster, who has just completed a degree in illustration, is exhibiting a selection of her pieces at the show.



Dani McMaster with her illustrations
Dani McMaster with her illustrations

They include pictures inspired by her friends’ music playlists on Spotify. The photos are mixed with illustrations, such as a psychedelic scene.

Twenty-three-year-old Dani, who lives in Shelton, said: “I could have had a speaker playing the music as well, but it’s had to be stripped back because of the pandemic.”

Another illustration looks at the connection between the brain and body. It draws on her own experiences with a neurological disorder, which causes dissociative episodes.

The art and design show will run from June 7 to 14 at the College Road site in Shelton. As part of the Covid-secure measures, people are being asked to book a time slot for their visit by clicking here.



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