Treasure Revealed: Napier University Edinburgh’s 2024 Degree Show

Heather Graham, 'PA14', inkjet digital print on MDF
Heather Graham, 'PA14', inkjet digital print on MDF

Edinburgh Napier Degree Show

Mon - Fri 10:00 - 18:00 (late opening 30th May until 19:00), Sat - Sun 10:00 - 16:00

From: 24 May 2024

To: 30 May 2024

Merchiston Campus
10 Colinton Road
Edinburgh & the Lothians
EH10 5DT

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145 students of Design, Photography and Creative Advertising are showcasing their work at the Edinburgh Napier Degree Show, comprising a vast array of projects ranging in inspiration from crochet to climate change, birdwatching to beer festivals, each displaying the innovative talents of Scotland’s future creatives.

Mathilde Vieilledent, 'Relou', Blueback prints wheatpasted on OSB boards.jpg
Mathilde Vieilledent, ‘Relou’, Blueback prints wheatpasted on OSB boards

Students of Photography display bold and unapologetic series of work. Relou by Mathilde Vieilledent explores the issue of street harassment in France, particularly its burden on women. Incorporating vibrant graffiti, this striking exhibit portrays the inventive ways in which victims attempt to combat their street anxiety.

Heather Graham, 'PA14', inkjet digital print on MDF
Heather Graham, ‘PA14’, inkjet digital print on MDF

Returning closer to home, PA14 by fellow Photography student Heather Graham explores the relationship between political policy and the decline of industrial areas. ‘PA14’ is the postcode of Clune Park, an abandoned shipyard town in Port Glasgow. Delving into the themes of loss, memory and the human condition, Heather’s series depicts the bleak conditions of Clune Park today and its downfall from a lively community to one afflicted by antisocial behaviours. 

Isla Macdonald's 'Biggin Up Bairns' project
Isla Macdonald, ‘Biggin Up Bairns’ project

From Photography to Graphic Design, students displayed diverse and inventive projects designed to help us navigate modern life. Isla Macdonald’s project Biggin Up Bairns aims to support parents in teaching their children Scots through various resources such as children’s books, learning cards and posters, all of which are designed, written and illustrated by herself. Isla’s Saltire-inspired colour palette is approachable and speaks to everyone – highlighting her aim of spreading awareness of Scots as a language and promoting curriculum advances. As an active Scots speaker, Isla describes the project as ‘very personal but also very relatable’. By directing her design to youngsters, she says she is ‘trying to tackle the youngest possible age group and early speakers’.

Archie Vickerstaff, (Graphic Design) 'Alternative Atlas' series
Archie Vickerstaff, ‘Alternative Atlas’ series

Another Graphic Design project which highlights the underrepresentation of aspects of Scottish culture is the Alternative Atlas by student Archie Vickerstaff. A new monthly publication that can be folded like an OS map showcases routes around some of Scotland’s most extraordinary yet overlooked locations. Archie’s project aims to boost the places that are often missed by tourists and change the perception of some of the forgotten towns of Scotland. Its fresh and alternative content is reflected in its aesthetic, which is reminiscent of punk and zine movements. Archie says, ‘I wanted to try and make something that was original and bold – and something that stood out… It’s sort of a punk alternative to the norm’. 

Ethan Guthrie
Ethan Guthrie

Reflecting on the future of rehabilitation programmes for ex-prisoners in East Lothian, Interior and Spatial Design student Ethan Guthrie presents a contemporary and forward-thinking approach to rehabilitation through his project TimberTide. Based in the historic site of the Belhaven Brewery in Dunbar, Ethan’s project employs the power of the sea as a force for good – providing surf-therapy and the teaching of crafting skills in the creation of wooden surfboards. The design is meticulously crafted, incorporating wood as a key theme as well as concrete to create a salient contrast. Employing the concept of fluidity, TimberTide encourages visitors to take a mindful approach when moving through the building. The concept of surf therapy stems from his own love of surfing. Ethan says, ‘As a designer, I’ve always been focused on not just creating things that look nice. I want to create things with purpose so there’s a lot of meaning behind my design.’ 

Réjane Shrago, ‘Shape of the Tong(u)e’, acrylic glass, soundbox, LED, touchboard, from ‘MOTHERTONGUE’.

It is not only the undergraduate projects that are grasping attention. The Masters exhibition, titled MOTHERTONGUE, incorporates two courses in Heritage and Exhibition Design as well as Design for Interactive Experience. Held in the Glassroom at the Merchiston Campus, MOTHERTONGUE sheds light on culture and identity on both a personal and collective level. Touching on several themes and featuring nine languages from ten different countries, the exhibition investigates heritage and collective memory as a means of creative expression. A striking and colourful celebration of rich cultural diversity, the exhibition acts as a platform for the emotional exploration through the lens of multiculturalism. 

The show runs from the 24th-30th May, and provides a stunning display of talent across an array of courses.

With thanks to Freya Saxton for this review.

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