Filling the Space

Between them, Matt Barrett and Jess King make sure our building – and the people inside it – are ready for the Degree Shows.

It’s a mammoth feat, and planning for next year starts as soon as this year’s show finishes. 

With so many things to consider – from wristbands to floorplans – it would be easy to lose sight of the big picture. Jess says: “You have to think of what the end game is. You can get lost in the detail.”

They consider how the shows will work as a whole. As Matt puts it: “If it’s a different space, it’s a different thing. In the old buildings, they were queuing out the door – it was like getting into a nightclub. Our King’s Cross building is bigger with more capacity.”

Understanding the scale
One of the biggest challenges of the new building – for both staff and students – is filling the space. The Street in Central Saint Martin’s is roughly ⅔ of the size of the Tate’s Turbine Hall in length, width and height.

Matt says: “The horses in the street last year were amazing. As someone who’s lived this building since 2007, it was like ‘Yeah we’ve got it. We understand this building now. We understand the scale of it.’

“We’ve grown into the opportunities and the tough challenge – we haven’t got shed-loads of money, so creating art in The Street to fill that space isn’t an easy thing to do.”

A perfect fit
The team put a lot of thought into where courses will fit best. Jess says: “MA Architecture build quite large installations, so they go in The Crossing. The same with MA Narrative Environments – last year they had air balloons and the year before that, trees.”

With so many different disciplines under one roof, there’s room to make new and surprising discoveries. Jess says: “You might come with an interest in fashion and stumble upon graphic design, or a course you don’t know anything about.”

After months of planning, both Jess and Matt look forward to seeing finished product. Jess says: “I love walking round the shows. It’s really nice to see the outcome of everyone’s hard work.”

For Matt, the best part of all is seeing students’ families. He says: “I know the industry contacts and all that is nice, but – as a parent myself – I love seeing the pride of mums, dads and grandparents.”