Anglia Ruskin University: ARU’s graduate showpiece returns to Cambridge

For the last couple of years, students at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) have been busy working behind closed doors. They have put everything into their writing, creating, making, and performing, but their practice has gone unseen – until now!

ARU’s annual Degree Show celebrates the work of final-year students in the faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and this year’s exhibition, called Secret Showcase, is returning home to the Ruskin Gallery and across ARU’s Cambridge campus, after spending the last two summers online.

The Secret Showcase, which will be open to the public from 9-19 June, is also the first time that final-year projects from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences will be featuring in the Showcase alongside film, art and design, animation, games and illustration by students from Cambridge School of Art and Cambridge School of Creative Industries.

Some of the work on display has been shaped by events over the last two years.
Through her bold, empowering manifesto Party of One, which features a fresh palette and strong typography, final year BA (Hons) Graphic Design student Chelsea Man asks why enjoying our own company is seen as such a bad thing.

Chelsea explained:

“Party of One is a vehicle for change to encourage self-awareness and empowerment in youths. My final major project is dedicated to disrupting the stigma around solo consumer culture and encourage people to embrace singularity.

“Party of One is inspired by our digital realities of social media. Since the first Covid lockdown, isolation and loneliness has increasingly become a problem for many, especially for today’s youth who has grown up in such a digital era surrounded by issues such as comparison culture.

“I want to express that our lives should not be dictated by what we see on social media as ‘the norm’. Instead, it is important to give ourselves the freedom to simply be in the present in our own company.”


The Secret Showcase features work by students from 23 different courses at ARU. Despite the diverse range of subjects – spanning Computer Games Technology to Criminology, and International Relations to Illustration – several themes reoccur across the final-year projects including society, identity, and the environment.

Gulp by BA (Hons) Illustration and Animation student Esme Powell asks viewers to question the consumption of dairy products. Her engaging, painterly animation belies a hard-hitting message as she juxtaposes animal welfare issues with artwork inspired by children’s book illustration and Japanese animation.

A much gentler but just as thought-provoking piece is Life on Cam, by BA (Hons) Film and Television Production students Jakub Zajíček, Luke Redrup and Daniel Miller. This short documentary, featuring residents living on houseboats in Cambridge, asks what it is that makes a home and what is important in today’s world.

Professor Sally Wade, Pro Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences at ARU said:

“The graduating students from our three schools are delighted to present their work to the public.

“Their work reflects the societal, cultural, and economic issues they care about and is both personal and individual. It is exciting, ambitious, and innovative, and is expressed through all forms of media including performance, music, writing, creative art and design practice.

“We are immensely proud of every one of our students and their achievements as they prepare for the next stage in their careers. We hope as many people as possible find an opportunity to visit the Secret Showcase and see it for themselves.”

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