A cartoon of two illustrators Daniel Turner and India Birtwisle

An important aspect of the British Art Show 9 inspired learning programme is ensuring that young people and aspiring artists from across the West Midlands have the opportunity to experience such an important cultural event and explore their own creativity and expression in relation to the exhibition. Our aim is that the BAS9 inspired learning programme can help to build a network of young people that appreciate and advocate for arts and culture while growing creative professionals of the future.

To support this we have created a range of student professional and artistic development opportunities for students from The University of Wolverhampton. One of these opportunities is to work in partnership with Arts Connect to design resources that will be used by young people to gain Arts Award accreditation while exploring British Art Show 9. Through a selection process which demonstrated the array of talent at Wolverhampton School of Art we appointed Daniel Turner and India Birtwistle (2nd and 3rd year Illustration students) to undertake the design commission. It has been brilliant to see how their ideas and initial designs showcase the arts and cultural heritage of Wolverhampton and celebrate young people’s passion for creativity. I’m excited to see how Dan and India’s ideas are shaped by BAS 9 and how these resources can inspire other young artists and creatives.”

Becky Thompson, Arts Connect  

Before I started at the University of Wolverhampton, I never would have dreamt that in my second year of the Illustration course I would have the chance to be involved in such an exciting commission. I was always told that Wolverhampton University was the University of Opportunity, and these past two years have really proved this to me.

Studying Illustration at Wolverhampton has helped me gain experience with visual communication skills and creative techniques that have me well equipped for the competitive environment of the creative industries. My supportive course leaders and lecturers have always promoted collaboration, as one of the course’s key objectives is ‘Together we work, so together we advance’. This was shown when they presented the commission to me and Dan and suggested we work together to expand our skills and learn new proficiencies from one other. The selection process for the commission was exceptionally positive; we’ve been given the freedom to create a resource that cultivates our creativity. Working as a team has been extremely enjoyable; I am able to obtain feedback from Dan, a third-year student, who’s past commission experiences have inspired me to take part in innovative challenges and take every opportunity I can. By championing our illustrative differences, we become stronger and more capable of greater things. Through researching the British Arts Show 9 I found this was one of their key objectives, which prompted me to investigate the themes and core values of the 2021 show.

As a proud native Wulfrunian, I am thrilled that the show is exploring Wolverhampton’s rich arts and cultural heritage. I have enjoyed researching the richness of our local history and communities and investigating my own person heritage and connection to the city. The BAS9 aims to encourage audiences in the UK to respond to identity, family, and current world events, in the hopes of giving all types of people a voice and opportunity to imagine a new, hopeful future. These themes really fascinated Dan and I and allowed us to build upon subjects like pro-activism and togetherness, which were prevalent in both our courses and the commission we were given. The core values of the BAS9 are commonality, collaboration, and care – and through designs we aim to weave these positive affirmations of unity into our work. Our aim is to encourage participation in the arts and empower the young people of Wolverhampton and wider West Midlands. The resource we make will embolden student’s view on the arts and discover that art is no longer restricted to pen and paper. We aim to promote digital art, performance, poetry, photography, video, sculpture and installation through an engaging resource. “

India Birtwistle 

I think I speak for both of us when I say that we are hugely excited to be working on such a tremendous project! An opportunity to be involved in such a prestigious event as British Art Show 9 seemed too good to pass up, and the more we investigated the commission the more enticing it became. On a personal level, I was particularly taken by the work Arts Connect has been doing to empower young people through creativity, embracing the arts to enrich lives. This is something I can personally attest to after enrolling at the University of Wolverhampton, after spending many years in a retail job – my educational journey through the arts has been enriching and deeply rewarding, and I too feel more empowered than ever before thanks to the incredible work and guidance of my tutors. I’m thrilled to be able to work with Arts Connect to help young people undertake a similar journey to my own.

One of the core messages present in the British Art Show 9 is one of collaboration and unity – which is why it is fitting that our work will be a joint venture. Not only between myself and India, but also between Arts Connect, the University of Wolverhampton and more. So far the process has been incredible, with regular meetings and interviews that all afford a glimpse into the life of a freelance illustrator. As a local lad born in the Midlands, I’m proud to be able to represent Wolverhampton’s storied cultural heritage – it’s nice to be able to put something back into the city that has done so much for me.
With our design, I’d like to create something energetic and memorable. We’re keen to stay away from the typical format most people expect – we want the viewer to have a nice surprise every time they turn the page. “

Daniel Turner