Degree Shows 2020 go virtual

Degree Shows 2020 go virtual

8 BA Architecture 2020 banner

Liverpool John Moores University art students will not be missing out on their final year shows because of the coronavirus.

Around 250 graduating artists and designers are reaping the rewards of a huge technological effort to exhibit all final year work on digital platforms as LJMU adapts to the ‘new normal’.

Shows will open online on June 5 with the undergraduate and postgraduate architecture shows launching on June 25.

The School of Art and Design announced the dates as Vice-Chancellor Ian Campbell spoke of providing returning students with "the rich cultural and social opportunities that Liverpool is famous for".

  Rosa Kusabbi, BA Graphic Design & Illustration

Creative thinking

Professor Caroline Wilkinson, who heads the Top 10-rated art school, said: “Contrary to the view that art exhibitions are impossible in the current situation, we saw the staging of these important shows as a challenge for creative thinking.”

With limited access to studios, workshops, machinery, or even basics like paints and cloth, the graduating students in Fine Art, Architecture, Fashion and Graphic Design & Illustration have had to think outside the box and reimagine their exhibits digitally.

“Artists are used to dealing with strange exhibition environments; it is part of their training,” says leader in fine art, Rory Macbeth. “Prior to lockdown, our group exhibited in a venue where they had to couldn’t put anything on the walls or plug anything in. It was just a different set of circumstances to deal with and so is this.”

In architecture, the annual virtual walk through format has been ramped up to a full immersive experience, allowing virtual visitors to deep dive into the detail of projects. “What we’re doing goes above and beyond what other architecture programmes are doing in the UK,” says subject head Ian Wroot.  The Architecture Shows – BA and MA – start a little latter on June 25.

 Lauren McLardy, BA Graphic Design & Illustration.

More visitors

In fine art, visitors can wander virtually around the exhibition and see an actual show of all the students’ work together prior to lockdown. Each artwork in the show acts as a further portal to that student’s current work, and to websites and further examples of their practices.

“The situation has given us the opportunity to produce a platform with more longevity and accessibility, allowing for an international audience and something that will last beyond the summer timeframe of a degree show” explained Laura Parke, programme leader in graphic design and illustration.

On Opening Nights there will be curated walk-throughs, recommended artworks on the site from leaders in the art world, and prizes selected by the Directors of Tate Liverpool, FACT and Liverpool Biennial, along with a series of residency prizes at the Royal Standard, CBS studios and Bidston Observatory.

 'Cowboys' by Adam Chesworth, BA Fashion.

The LJMU Fashion Show this year has gone virtual, and will be hosted on a variety of digital platforms by SevenStore, the creative retail space in the city’s Baltic Triangle. The SEVEN-LJMU partnership series also includes Instagram takeovers and editorial features providing an industry stage for the class of 2020 to publish their work directly to the fashion pack. SEVEN is home to some of the world’s most prominent and relevant designers, it’s an amazing opportunity for our students to share that platform. We are so lucky that they chose to open on our doorstep,” explains Andrew Ibi, the programme leader for fashion.

Professor Wilkinson added: “We’re so proud of this Class of 2020; they have had to be very inventive and pragmatic and can confidently go out into the professional world.”

Follow @LJMU @SofAD and @LJMUArts accounts on Instagram and Twitter for details of how to access to Degree Shows online, or go to


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