Students Jump Into the Shoes of ACC

30 May 2018


Dr Rowan Bailey, Director of Graduate Education in the School of Art, Design and Architecture at the University of Huddersfield reports on an exciting new collaborative project developed alongside Arts Council Collection's latest Touring Exhibition, In My Shoes, aimed at developing new ways of thinking about audience experience and engagement.


Postgraduate students from the Department of Art and Communication and the Department of Fashion and Textiles have collaborated with the Arts Council Collection team at Longside Gallery as part of a module entitled ‘Creative Innovation and Entrepreneurship’.

The module provides opportunities for students to engage in live briefs, with the aim of bringing their creative design skills to a context outside of a University setting. As creative teams, students are encouraged to showcase innovative ideas and be entrepreneurial as project managers of their own design outcomes.

The students were tasked to come up with ideas for learning resources to accompany the Arts Council Collection Touring Exhibition, In My Shoes: Art & the Self Since the 1990s. The team of students come from a range of MA taught courses including graphic design, digital media, creative pattern cutting and fashion and textiles. These different creative skills sets led to the cross-disciplinary exchange of different working practices.

The students worked with the Arts Council Collection team based at Longside, Yorkshire Sculpture Park to explore the themes of the exhibition. They were asked to consider audiences and interactivity and to propose ways of encouraging engagement with the works on display. The research undertaken would inform design outcomes that would enrich and enhance the overall interpretation of In My Shoes.


The open nature of the brief was framed by clear criteria that students had to evidence in an online platform and individually in reflective blogs. These themes included curatorial/artistic thinking, research and cultural/aesthetic awareness, execution and social benefits.

As a new initiative and in collaboration with the Arts Council Collection, the project has led to new ways of thinking about audience experience and engagement, particularly in relation to the insights and ideas generated by the students.

Three ideas were pitched to the curatorial team. The first was the evolution of a zine which would appeal to different ages and include activities that would draw audiences into the works on display as well as reflect on their own experiences. This led to the design of a one-cut booklet which complemented the branding of the exhibition.

The second idea was initiated by the students through their social media expertise. The idea was to produce a Snapchat filter that could be geo-located to Longside Gallery, allowing younger audiences to use their smartphones to capture ‘selfies’ within a frame designed by the students to reflect the branding of the exhibition.

The students also produced an accompanying instruction booklet to allow the Snapchat filter to travel with the exhibition as the show tours the UK. The third idea was a weave pinboard where memories and experiences of the 1990s could be left in the gallery by visitors to the show.

The Arts Council Collection : Students Jump Into the Shoes of ACC
The Arts Council Collection : Students Jump Into the Shoes of ACC

As a creative set of processes, the project enabled students to test out ideas with the curatorial team and respond to feedback. Reflecting on how they worked together as a group and what they had learned from working in a live context, one student commented: ‘The design choices we made responded to the curatorial team’s feedback and requests. This allowed us to reflect on the purpose of the designs in relation to the overall branding of the exhibition, but also in relation to creating something that had social benefits for the visitor experience’.

An online platform was developed alongside the project, documenting the project and showcasing the range of research, design processes and collaborative group working undertaken by the students.


The project was initiated through the School of Art, Design and Architecture at the University of Huddersfield, as part of a suite of MA taught courses: MA Graphic Design, MA Digital Media, MA Fashion Textile Practices, MA Creative Pattern Cutting, MA International Fashion Design Management.


In My Shoes: Art & the Self since the 1990s is on show at Longside Gallery at Yorkshire Sculpture Park until 17 June, before touring to venues in Leicester, Stratford-upon-Avon,  Aberystwyth and Nottinghamshire.


The Arts Council Collection is the UK's most widely seen collection of modern and contemporary art.

With more than 8,000 works by over 2,000 artists, it can be seen in exhibitions and public displays across the country and beyond. This website offers unprecedented access to the Collection, and information about each work can be found on this site.