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Striking art exhibition is mighty fine

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Martha Oatway and her work at the Inside Out exhibition at UCLan

Collection of visually eye-catching work in on display until 16 September

An alter ego, a quarry and a tin of old matchbooks are among the items which have provided the inspiration for a vibrant new exhibition at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

The artistic talents of students on the Studio Practice and Site and Archive Interventions strands of the MA Fine Art programme are on display at until Friday 16 September.

Electronic music fan Nick Norcross channelled his alter ego Tribal Nick to create 25 eye-catching masks which differ in size and shape.

The 33-year-old, from Penwortham, spent between 10 and 40 hours modelling each design from clay, covering it in paper mache and painting with a striking design.

Nick, who won a 2014 UCLan Creative Award when he was on the undergraduate illustration degree, said: “My work is all instinct based and portrays my emotions at that moment in time. I’m really interested in how people react when wearing and seeing the masks. Masks hide emotions and allow people to express themselves in a way which they might not do without the mask.”

For research purposes he spent time with renowned York street performer Purple Man. He also took a selection of the masks on to the streets in Preston city centre to gauge people’s reactions and he’s been commissioned by the Harris Museum.

My work is all instinct based and portrays my emotions at that moment in time. I’m really interested in how people react when wearing and seeing the masks.

American Martha Oatway used Threshfield Quarry, near Skipton, to challenges people’s perceptions of quarries on the beautiful landscape of the Yorkshire Dales.

The mature student, who originates from Maine but is currently living in Preston with her husband, used forever mirrors, glass panels, laser cutting techniques, steelwork and stones to create her stunning contemporary structure.

She said: “Quarries were the lifeblood of communities but it’s interesting to see how they are hidden from landscapes. I wanted to show that they are still there and can be seen when you look at the landscape in a different way.”

With permission from the President of the Threshfield Quarry Development Trust, she collected a car full of stones and spent endless hours arranging what she required for her final piece.

A printmaker by trade, Martha decided to study at UCLan on an access to art course before following that with an undergraduate degree. She said: “I could’ve stayed being a printmaker throughout my career but I decided I wanted to do something different and learn to think about being creative in a different way.

“When I came to UCLan I soon found it was a fabulous place to study. I’ve had a great time, my fellow students have been wonderful, everybody is so friendly and it’s a place where age is no barrier to education.”


Lauren Carter-Bridges with her oil painted matchbooks which highlight one man’s trip across America.

When I came to UCLan I soon found it was a fabulous place to study. I’ve had a great time, my fellow students have been wonderful, everybody is so friendly and it’s a place where age is no barrier to education.

A trip to a house clearance shop proved the inspiration for Lauren Carter-Bridges’ final work. She bought an old tin full of 120 matchbooks for £1 and discovered the matchbooks had been collected from across Europe and the United States of America. After further investigation she realised the 50 American books signalled a cross country journey in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The 32-year-old, from Bolton, tracked down images of what the featured hotels and motels would look like at that time and then painstakingly oil painted the intricate scene on to the packet.

She said: “I’m fascinated with other people’s history so in a way I think of myself as an identity thief. To think this man has made his way across America and I can track where he’s been by these matchbooks is just amazing to me. My next project is to track his route through Europe.”

MA Fine Art Course Leader Professor Charles Quick said: “All the students have worked extremely hard. Their work is very ambitious in terms of scale and endeavour and it’s had a great response so far.”

The free exhibition, entitled Inside Out, is taking place in Hanover Building from 12 noon to 6.00pm every day until Friday 16 September.

See the Flickr gallery showing more photos of the exhibition.

Rachel Atkinson | 09 September 2016