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Source: Ara Institute of Canterbury

The Ara Art and Design School end-of-year exhibition has been brought together under one creative banner for the first time this year, creating 2020’s ‘Pitch’ Exhibition’ and Runway shows.
‘Pitch’ is the culminating event for graduating Bachelor of Design students, showcasing an entire year’s worth of research, concept development and creative production. Students from the Visual Communication, Photography, Applied Visual Art and Motion Design specialisations have produced a kaleidoscope of sculptures, prints, paintings and drawings, posters, publications, films and animations; while Fashion Technology and Design learners will be putting on a fashion spectacle that will incorporate all of their designs, from avant-garde through to action-wear.
Ruby Carter, a Visual Communications third-year who was a key contributor to ‘Pitch’s’ concept development says “I remember when I was a year-one, thinking ‘oh my gosh how am I going to get to this stage?’ It’s always at the back of your mind – ‘final year, final year, you get your big exhibition!’. It’s the ultimate expression of your own ideas, you’re the creative director of all of your stuff – that’s really cool!”
Bruce Russell, Manager of Ara’s Design School says “This year, we’re taking a much more holistic approach, seeing fashion as essentially a design discipline, and this new format recognizes this. The reality is that not only does Ara’s overall strategy call for greater collaboration within and between Departments, but this kind of approach also reflects the will of the students towards a greater cross-fertilization of ideas.”
This year, Ara’s own Marketing Department also pitched in to help Ara Design School Visual Communications and Art students refine their ideas. This conscious effort to combine student learning with input from Ara’s professional cohort of marketers helps to spread the workload while also exposing students to genuine workplace collaboration, for a real client and a real event that will be open to the public as well as to key industry figures.
Ruby points out that “The other unique thing about what we’re doing is creating a
publication for each specialization that’ll include examples of the work from all of the students. Each specialization booklet works with the others, so you can pile them up together as a collection.”
She has also been a staunch advocate for the creation of a special ‘Pitch’ website, where people who may not be able to physically attend the event can see the works, and it can serve as an ongoing showcase for students. “ will go live at the close of the exhibition, so the work continues to live beyond the physical space. I felt very passionate about the website, because if people can see the work online there are so many benefits. Future students can see what previous Design classes have produced, and it’ll be a platform where Motion Design work can really shine because it’s not really made for print.”
The new, integrated ‘Pitch’ also reflects the fact that today visual and other forms of design have more cross-over with fashion than in previous decades, so fashion graduates can now consider careers that are different from the traditional path of making and selling a line of clothing; they could be interested in designing futuristic textiles, incorporating new sensor or other ICT technologies; creating patterns and motifs for textiles, or working with 3D printing processes. Or they may choose to continue with post-graduate study that explores the symbolism of clothing and how it can be considered just another form of communication – all of which are areas available for investigation through Ara’s course offerings.
Bruce Russell says that he feels that the Art and Design department leads the way in finding fruitful synergies between disciplines and departments. “At Ara we have the largest polytech Art and Design department in the country; the next largest, in Auckland, is only half the size. Our Design students also make up the largest single group within our Creative Industries portfolio, so we have a real opportunity to bring together a wide range of people from throughout the department and beyond, all working together so that learners can benefit from more authentic professional experiences. We have a definite presence and an important role to play in fulfilling Ara’s overall strategy.”