Sarah Christie: I would call on us all to keep holding the doors open
This speech, in part a response to Brexit, was given at Graduation 2016.
"Good afternoon, and thank you all for being here. I am incredibly honoured to have been asked to speak on behalf of the students here this afternoon. After all the hard work, we are here to celebrate our degrees, mark the end of our time at Central Saint Martins, and look forward to beginning our creative lives.
On or around Friday 24th June, we received our degree results. It was the culmination of everyone's hard work, excitement, frustration... hard times, good times, and so many questions - what am I doing? Why am I doing it? How am I going to do it in time for the assessment?
That particular Friday morning however we were distracted by another result, something bigger and more daunting, confusing and rather unsettling. The EU referendum result threatens our relationship with our fellow Europeans, and turns it into something new and still unknown. This matters to students at Central Saint Martins, because we collaborate, exchange, and contribute to scholarship, across national borders.
At Central Saint Martins we have been part of an international and outward-facing community. Even on my course, BA Ceramic Design, one of the smallest at the university, we don't need to look far to find a friend with a personal and direct connection to the big world events happening now, whether it's the situations in Turkey or Ukraine, or even Portugal winning the football at Euro 2016.
To me, the experience of being at Central Saint Martins has been all about investigating new ideas with other people. About changing your mind. Changing other people's minds. Being surprised and challenged by other people's perspectives, and being compelled to find out more. Letting in other people's visual cultures. Learning other people's languages. Finding out who has the best tools. South Korea, as it happens! And it has been about trying things out with no idea if they will work, or what the outcome will be, but knowing that the risk and the journey will somehow be worth it.
Some of us developed our final projects about what we discovered about other countries; others explored their own heritage. In doing so, they also educated the rest of us about, for example, Gabija, the Lithuanian Fire Goddess, and the Namibian desert's weather pattern and what design could do with it. As the great Bard from Barking Billy Bragg famously sang in "The Few": 'what do they know of England, who only England know'?
We have all started out as fellow students, and become friends. In the future we will work together, start businesses together, employ one another, pass on job opportunities, and recommendations, bounce ideas around, agree, disagree...
The world that we're graduating into may feel uncertain, colder and less welcoming. Those of us who wish to continue look outwards may be daunted by the prospect of opportunities curtailed. So, let's hold one another close as we navigate the stormy waters, listen to and support each other, and above all, keep going.
It might seem a bit like the UK has shut the door in the world's face. But I would call on us all to keep holding the doors open. Because one of the many wonderful things that an art and design education has taught us, is that however safe and comfortable it may feel at the time, you don't do anything very interesting if you operate as an island. Our jobs as designers and artists are to make sense of the world and find ways of making it better for the benefit of others. There's plenty to do.
On behalf of all of the students here today, thank you to the tutors, technicians, and support staff who have made Central Saint Martins a home, whilst enabling us to become who we are today. Thank you to family near and far, and friends who have supported us on our journeys so far. Congratulations, and good luck, friends, future collaborators and colleagues."