Fine Art students emerge from lockdown with showstopping exhibition

De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) artists are marking their freedom to exhibit again with a stunning showcase, after physical shows were brushed off during Covid-19.


From being invited to ‘spend a penny’ to meeting a ‘cyborg’, visitors attending Emergence2021 can take part in a number of interactive opportunities and enjoy an eclectic mix of visually diverse themes and media.

Taking place at Leicester’s Two Queens gallery, the show is open to the public on the weekend of 11-12 September, as well as 15-18 September. It features work created in isolation by 11 Fine Art MA students, all influenced by their experiences during the pandemic and the ongoing process of emerging from lockdown.

Danielle Vaughan’s work includes 18 human-shaped, life-size patchwork cushions posing three post-pandemic questions around lessons learnt, changing personal values and positive outcomes. Visitors are invited to write their answers on the cushions or paper tags provided.

Part of Danielle's participation piece

The 52-year-old from Blackpool said: “My participation piece is a way of bringing people together and giving them an outlet to express their feelings about the pandemic. I chose to do patchwork because in my mind each square represents a different facet of what makes us human.

“In 10 years I want this work to be a record of what we are feeling now, a visual representation of the direction society now moves towards and the changes we make as social beings.”

Danielle moved to Leicester at 18 to study Footwear Design BA (Hons) at DMU. After graduating in 1990 she went into teaching and then homeschooled her children for 14 years, while establishing herself as a visual artist. Her work has featured on Sky TV's Portrait Artist of The Year series and is in permanent collections at Blenheim Palace and Leicester Museum and Art Gallery.

Navigating an autism diagnosis during the pandemic shaped the direction of Morrigan Dann’s work.

As part of her display, the 25-year-old from Leicester is showcasing a zine based on her medical assessment report, creating an open narrative of the process to help others in similar positions. She appropriated sections of her report into poetry, which she printed onto brightly illustrated A5 pages.


Morrigan's zine is based on her medical assessment report

“Diagnosis was a strange process to go through. One reason I’ve been identified late in life is because there are so many misconceptions and stereotypes around autism. Although the report has led to extra support I’ve needed, it’s very clinical to read with a lot of negative language,” she said.

“There are very few resources for autistic people. Most resources are to support parents and carers of autistic people, and seem to focus on how people with disabilities are an inconvenience to those around them. This is my way of gaining control of my situation and I hope it resonates with others.”

Before embarking on her MA, Morrigan studied an Art and Design Foundation Diploma followed by a Design Crafts BA (Hons) at DMU. She said: “It’s a great university for the arts with fantastic facilities and staff. It was an easy decision for me to stay on and I’m even considering it for a PhD.”

Award-winning sculptor Lis Naylor is hoping to empower women to use their voice by sharing her own personal story. A keen horse rider, she donned a bridle wearing a bit in her while going about her everyday life and documented how it felt, along with her past experiences.

The result is an installation featuring a 50-page book, compiled by making an erasure collage and finished with horse braiding thread, suspended page-by-page from an old coat rack.

Pages of Lis' book will be suspended in an installation

She said: “Riding is man’s ultimate domination over a horse, so it was a fitting way to physically experience what I had gone through in my past. I assumed the difficult times I went through when I was younger were normal, until I realised that I had been a victim of coercive abuse.

“Creating the book was a form of therapy for me and I hope it encourages other women to find their voice, especially as various reports show that coercive abuse increase during lockdown.

“As a sculptor, not having access to workshops and being forced to go digital during the pandemic was really scary. But it made me learn new skills, think outside of the box and challenged me. It gave me the space to make mistakes and discover new things I’m good at, so I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved.”

Lis has also been selected to join the Leicester Society of Artists, taking part in their annual exhibition at the Newarke Houses Museum in October.

The 11 DMU artists exhibiting in Emergence2021 are Courtney Askey, Danielle Vaughan, Jay Clarke, Jennifer Audiah, Kirstie Bridges, Lis Naylor, Megan Sawbridge, Morrigan Dann, Rahma Hassan Alharti, Victoria Clark, Yusuf Dongo.

Posted on Wednesday 8th September 2021

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