Community Arts

Bryan Harris Bursary 2023

Members of Arts Society Derby judged entries from five students at the Joseph Wright post-16 Academic and Arts College after they were shortlisted for the annual Bryan Harris Bursary award – named in honour of the Society’s founder and former chairman who died eight years ago.

Front Row (left to right): Laura Taylor, Vikki Fitt, Val Murday (Arts Society judges), Amy Higginbottom (bursary winner).Back Row: Students and bursary award runners up Ben Gibbs, Zofia Szymanska, Tia Beddington and Beth Wells Tracey Ramsdale (Teacher of Art and Design)

The winner of the £400 bursary was Art Foundation Diploma student Amy Higginbottom Cooper (19), who chose the theme of ‘Sonder’ for her final project. Sonder is the realisation that each random stranger that we encounter is living a life as vivid and complex as our own. The wall-mounted artwork not only has many creative illustrations incorporating different styles of art, but is also interactive. All the QR codes can be scanned, so that the featured stories can be read, giving the reader a real insight into the people’s lives.

Amy Higginbottom with her artwork

Amy, a former student at Derby Moor, plans to spend the bursary on an etching press for making prints to support her Fine Art degree studies at the Falmouth University this September.

After receiving the award, Amy said: “I am so happy to win the award, it is so good to get this type of recognition. I hope to refine my large skill set and figure out what medium suits me and my future. A big dream of mine would be to see my work in multiple exhibitions, as I enjoy making larger instalment of work, sometimes being interactive too, and therefore getting it in the public eye would be a huge goal for me.

“Sonder is a subject I have always been interested in, walking through my life seeing and hearing snippets of passing strangers and wondering what that tells me about them and their story. I hoped to highlight how important it is for us humans to acknowledge and appreciate one another in depth, as we are all so different but in similar ways; and perhaps encourage a level of interest in these strangers we pass everyday with such little regard.”

Vikki Fitt, Young Arts representative at Arts Society Derby, said: “We have awarded a bursary every year for over 20 years to Derby College students to support them in their University studies. The standard was again outstanding this year and we particularly loved the thought and care, and the variety of styles, that have gone into Amy’s work, which has made the piece incredibly empathetic and thought provoking.”

Runners-up Tia Beddington (left) and Zofia Szymanska (right) with their submissions, a Tinkerbell themed costume piece and a piece inspired by skeletal armour ideology.

Tracey Ramsdale, Teacher of Art and Design, added “All five contributions for the bursary were excellent, but Amy’s unique and detailed artwork was singled out for the award. Well done, Amy. I am always incredibly proud of all the students who put so much hard work into their pieces, and it is lovely that at our Summer Exhibition they get the opportunity to show them off to friends, family and the public.”

Bryan Harris Bursary 2022

The Arts Society Derby has awarded this year’s Bryan Harris Bursary to Derby College Group Art & Design student Natalie Cooper. Natalie (19) from Wirksworth was one of four final-year students shortlisted for the award, judged by Arts Society Committee members.

Award winner Natalie Cooper (right) with Arts Society members (from left) Liz Harris, Mary Scott and Vikki Fitt.

For her final project, Natalie created a semi-abstract styled painting that depicts the disastrous effects of flooding on the Matlock area. The painting flows from its frame down the wall and over the floor, where it depicts puddles covered by the words of a statement made after the flooding by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, ‘But in the end, you’ve got to . . face reality . .’. The work challenges us to ask just what reality it is that we should be facing – and what ‘the end’ will be.

The Bursary, awarded every year, is worth £400 and helps a final year Art & Design student with the expense of their further studies. It commemorates the Society’s founder and former chairman, Bryan Harris, who died seven years ago. Natalie plans to spend the award on essential art materials and a stencil printer to support her Fine Art degree studies at the University of Derby, which she will begin in September. Her ambition is to go on to be a secondary school Art teacher

Receiving the award, Natalie said: “I am over the moon to have won this bursary and delighted that the judges liked my piece. My intentions with this painting were to raise awareness of the issue of climate change and flooding and to encourage people to question whether natural disasters should be treated in such an accepting manner.”

Vikki Fitt, Young Arts representative at Arts Society Derby, said: “We have awarded a bursary every year for more than 20 years to Derby College students to support them in their University studies. The standard was again incredibly high this year and we particularly loved the visual impact of Natalie’s work which is incredibly powerful and thought provoking.”

Allenton Primary School Art Project

In January and February 2024 we carried out a six-week project in Allenton Community Primary School in Derby. This was led by Dave Taylor, assisted by Vikki Fitt and Laura Taylor, and involved working with a diverse group of ten Year 6 pupils, selected by their teachers as being those children who would benefit most from the experience.

The children were introduced to the theme of landscape painting, first by learning about famous artists and their different techniques, and then by learning to use watercolours and acrylics to create their own paintings in both media. The end results were shared with the whole school community in a special reward assembly, and the paintings were exhibited in the school library. The children clearly felt a great feeling of pride in their achievements.

Paintings created by the pupils during the project
Laura Taylor and Vikki Fitt with folders of pupils’ work

Many thanks to Dave Taylor for all his hard work and expert input.

Trails of Discovery

As part of its commitment to widen opportunities to enjoy the arts, the national Arts Society supports member societies to create Trails of Discovery. Each of these provides guidance around a local building or place of worship, and explains the art, architecture, local history and culture that it features. Some Trails are designed for children, or for older people with memory loss and their carers. For more information about this initiative, with examples of Trails created by member societies from all around the country, click here.

The Arts Society Derby has created a Trail for Children that guides visitors around St James Church in Shardlow using a question sheet for children to fill in from their own observations and an answer sheet for accompanying adults. Click below to download these if you would like to use them during a visit to the church to learn more about its history, its artistic and architectural features, and the history of the village.