A World Without Words – International Exhibition

By Sarah Bates


world without words

International Exhibition

My 2nd international exhibition was the visual exploration and response to the city of Tronto, Italy was through a super macro lens. I used self generated data whilst investigating graphicacy (which is the ability to communicate visually) and is considered as important as literacy and numeracy and the ability to read and count.

I was inspired by this quote:

"The world around us is chaotic. In order to live in that world, we must find ways to grasp it, establish some sort of order in it. We are not alone in that endeavor. Others face the same problem. And we can make contact with those others. That contact helps us talk about the world, order things, bring order onto the chaos. We do that by naming things, so that others know what we are talking about. We do that through signs. The most familiar and complex system of signs is language. Human communities are impossible without some form of language. Language is the most highly developed sign-system, a sign-system which allows the conveyance of the most complex observations, views, thoughts." (Ball, 1994)

Visual communication as we know it today

Is the process of sending and receiving messages using images and signs, and yet it is not dissimilar to the earliest forms of communicating 6000 years ago were developed. These first symbols used in their primitive forms were called pictograms which covered cave walls and depicted early the activities of early civilization. They could be used to represent an object; fish, rain, woman etc. and remarkably pictograms are still used in our society today, as there is an ever growing need to overcome language barriers, symbols (pictograms) which can be internationally recognised are now in demand more than ever before. Examples such as men and women’s toilets, navigation systems in airports and travel systems on our roads etc. Our need to immediately recognise and navigate these systems as we go about our lives, not only enhances our lives but it makes ‘it’ more efficient.

I was particularly inspired by the Futurist archive museum where I had the privilege of viewing and handling the journals, works, designs of Depero which was truly amazing to see these things in real life and a recent book binding course.

We see so many things in our lives but don't actually see the detail and so a super macro lens is really an analogy for the media bombarded lives we live in today.







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Data Visualisation

By Sarah Bates

Using data to make imagery

Working with Dr Paul Genever and Dr Amanda Barnes at York University I was interested in how data visualisation might be able to produce imagery to raise awareness of what they do in the department. I began with a data set of 12,000 entries, results from 4 experiments using a stem cell. One of their funded sponsors is Arthritis Uk and their research explores how stem cells can be encouraged to grow into bone cells – ultimately for joint replacements in the future, instead of metal or plastic, which is revolutionary.

I visualised the data using Excel, Tableau and Raw Data to produce some very beautiful and completely different data visualisations, which were turned into postcards, as a possible promotional flyer to give away at exhibitions and events.

I was drawn to a particular image as it resonates with a person’s experience who have arthritis of suffering and pain which was the circular spiky image. A music lecturer colleague when looking at the image could resonate with the feelings of arthritis and produce a music score to the image. This was very modern score with a huge baseline beat. I experimented and explored Adobe After Effects and Premiere resulting in 3 motion graphic responses which can be viewed here.



By Sarah Bates

I have always been excited by typography – the art of setting type – whether it is for a poster, price of art or simply just to read. As part of my teaching I deliver a unit about the history of type and letterforms and so letterpress has always fascinated me. On studying at Derby College of Art we have a small amount of letterpress to use and a fantastic old school typographer called Ernie.

So when the opportunity arose to go on a letterpress course I jumped at the chance. It was a 2 day course held at a West Yorkshire Print Workshop covering the basics of letterpress. A great bloke who was a professional printer taught us the ropes as well as exuding charm and a passion for print.

I prepared, being a true swatty student,  did some research and even started a sketchbook much to the annoyance of the other fellow novice letterpress-ers – so here are a few pics to enthuse and continue the art of letterpress printing. I also learned that when the type make an imprint into the paper it is not embossing (which is where it is raised off the paper) but debossing! You see you learn something new every day and may it continue…

Selby College Mural

By Sarah Bates

I’ve always wanted to do a graffiti inspired mural, it’s been deep in the back of my mind for years. A graffiti artists called Swoon in America really inspired me – how she uses paper cut outs as her medium and puts these directly onto distressed backgrounds. The degrading of the paper adds to this effect where the image becomes weathered over time.

Urban Outfitters in York (where Habitat used to be -sniff sniff!) commissioned 2 artists from Germany to design and install a similar influenced mural on the back wall using paper cut outs. While being inspired and giddy in the shop, I was asked to leave because I was getting a little over zealous with the camera! Having explained who I was and why I was interested in the image they didn’t thankfully confiscate my camera! However, this really prompted me to think of possible ways to include this technique into a workshop when teaching at college.

So, with a few like minded colleagues we set a competition for our 1st year Art & Design students to come up with a maximum of 6 images based on URBAN : JUNGLE : HUMAN : ANIMAL. Some of the images were brilliant and the students had really put a lot of effort into their outcomes. For the effect we wanted one image would not work alone and so I put together a collaborative digital illustration with the help of our fine art lecturer Elaine Whitehead, [who has just completed her Masters – how brilliant is that?].

I knew it was going to be tricky to make it work but we made a plan and as you all know – a failure to plan is a plan for failure! So we set tasks all week and the students were up for it!

Monday’s tasks were to paint the wall and draw out and begin cutting the image. The image was projected onto a wall, students then took turns to trace the image and the arduous task of scalpelling out every little mark, while other students had great fun with Paul and the paint; brushes, hands and feet were all used to create visually exciting marks covering the whole wall.

On Tuesday, with Sam’s help students then used various transfer techniques to distress the wall adding layers of images and type, which added depth to the image. The paper cut out image was then put up, with great care, great wall papering technique and awesome finger rubbing – a messy and sticky job but very rewarding.

The pure energy, hard work and dedication that has gone into producing this image from the students is truly inspiring and a joy to see! Let’s hope people are impressed on the Selby College Open Morning on Saturday 20th October!



Fantastic Day – fantastic horse!

By Sarah Bates

While at the races I also came across a fantastic sculpture. Jennifer from Lemon Zest has yet again excelled in creating a horse made from Yorkshire produce. Even on the third day of the races, having had lots of rain and sunshine the horse was still fairing well!

“To underscore the use of local produce in the kitchens and restaurants of York Racecourse Lemon Zest have staged a number of successful PR stunts that range from fanciful hats made of seasonal fruit and veg, an enormous mural of a horse and now to top it all a live size horse made entirely from food produced in Yorkshire.”

Fantastic Day – fantastic hat!

By Sarah Bates

I haven’t updated the blog for a while and it’s the same old excuse we all have, …no time! Well we all know the lists gets longer and the time gets shorter but that is down to time management, prioritising and a realisation that the list may not get done in 1 day or indeed ever…!

Anyway I was going to the races at York for the August Bank Holiday meeting, where on the Wednesday the unbeaten Frankel enhanced his reputation as one of the greatest horses in history by easily taking the Juddmonte International race. I didn’t have a hat to wear, I was tight on time and so asked Jane, who is a lecturer at Selby College and teaches millinery and has her won bespoke millinery business, if she could possible make me something in 3 days!

What a service Jane provided! I text her a photo of my dress and left it up to her judgement as to what she designed and created!  1 day later I went to collect this absolutely fantastic creation!. The skill and ability that Jane has is phenomenal and I would always recommend her – so  if you ladies out there need anything to do with head attire then look no further than – Jane – Ann, Bespoke Millinery.

Jane-Ann’s hats were also paraded down the catwalk at Selby College Fashion Show this year and she also has a range of hats and fascinators in Fenwicks in York.

Jane was also at the races on the Wednesday, as she had just won a prize for the competition organised by York’s newest visitor attraction the York Chocolate Story.

Jane’s chocolate challenge was to create a chapeau that depicts a piece of confectionery that has been produced in York over the years. Her inspiration was one of chocolate’s Christmas classics – the purple-wrapped sweetie from the Quality Street tin. Selby Times covered the story. What a great hat and it’s going into the museum for all to see!

Brilliant Exhibition @ Selby College

By Sarah Bates

Well, I have to say it has been a roller coaster week in the art department. We started on Monday morning with 60 blank boards that needed painting both sides, paint to buy, a studio that needed clearing and a stressed tutor (me) and that was just the start! The students worked as a team, helping each other out and by the end of Tuesday we had the boards up, the creative direction pep talk given and by the end of the day everyone’s exhibition was already starting to take shape.

The students had to show off their work and really think how they were best to display it. We wanted a little bit of drama, excitement and to make it visually stimulating and enjoyable for all to see. They were fantastic; choosing their own particular pieces, making business cards and even bringing props in, it was a very steep learning curve and I have to give credit to them – they stepped up and should be very proud of themselves as I am.

The results were simply stunning, considering the students have all had the same projects, were taught the same skills, processes and techniques – each student’s exhibition was individual and unique and what a wide breadth of work they have produced.  We teach a wide range to enable to students to progress onto different pathways; various printing techniques, a wide range of visual recording skills, digital design & image manipulation, sculpture, photography the list goes on – as well as professional practice – where proper hand shakes are a must!

It was also great to see students from the past – with a few texts – they came in droves and what a joy to catch up with them all and find out what they have all been up to at university. With a little bit of persuasion they’ve even promised to come in and chat to the first year students and show some of their work.

So a great week was had by all. Proud tutors, proud and relieved students and hopefully proud parents and family too!

Visual Creative Arts Exhibition

By Sarah Bates

As you may know I as well as being a graphic designer – I also teach at Selby College and every year the second year students have a final exhibition to show off their fabulous work. Normally, we get the students to design the poster as a competition but time was indeed pressing and so I spent an hour at my mac, producing some exhibition posters and loved every minute of it. Tutors loved the designs, vote was taken and one design was chosen – great to work with like-minded, decision making and slightly mad, creative people!

I have always been inspired by the fantastic Swiss Style Movement, also know as the International Typographic Style that developed in Switzerland in the 1950s. Joseph Müller-Brockmann was one of the famous graphic designers linked to the movement and a great inspiration. The style is known for it cleanliness, readability and primarily used sans serif typography. You will have seen many inspired designs from this style and here are mine.

The exhibition is an opportunity to come and be inspired yourself. The students are from a wide range of courses, A level Media Studies, Art & Design, Diploma in Art & Design, Extended Diploma in Fashion & Clothing, Art & Design, Creative Media Production, Theatre Studies and this year for the first time Music Technology – so it’s a great evening to see what we have been up to!

Please do come along 14th June 2012, 6-8pm Renaissance Building, Selby College.





















Banksy in London

By Sarah Bates

Love it. Just recently went to London and was shown a Banksy – a real one. The story goes that the Council didn’t quite know what to do with this “artwork” as it is deemed graffiti, writing or drawings scribbled, scratched, or sprayed illicitly on a wall or other surface in a public place, but the problem was that it was most certainly done by a well known “artist”. The result was a plastic covering over the image to preserve it and much to my amusement someone had then graffitied over the top of it.

Always topical – this one has now been spotted on the streets of London and is said to be Banksy’s latest piece!

aspiring photographer

By Sarah Bates

I am proud to put some of my daughter’s photographs up here and share her budding talent, she certainly has the “eye” to take the slightly more unusual shots.

Her shots seems to evolve around light and nature and there is definitely no Photoshop used here!

Let me know what you think…