On a sunny day on London’s Southbank, over 1,300 students filled the Royal Festival Hall alongside their friends, family and tutors to celebrate graduation
Grayson Perry, University of Arts Chancellor, opened the afternoon’s proceedings imploring the graduates to embrace risk-taking in their professional lives: “It’s tricky, but if you’re being creative, you’ve got to make mistakes. I’ve got ‘Creativity is mistakes’ written in concrete in my studio. If you’re not making them, start worrying because you’re not trying hard enough.” Speaking of the role of these young artists and designers, Perry said, “you’ll build our hopes and dreams. You’ll dress our hopes and dreams. You are in charge of our future identities, it’s a big responsibility and amazing privilege.”
An honorary fellowship was awarded to Turner Prize-winning artist Laure Prouvost who spoke about the College as a place to discover individual creative voices as well as a community of people from different backgrounds. Designer Sebastian Conran, another honorary fellowship recipient, righted a life-long regret for leaving his Product Design course at CSM without graduating (albeit to go on the road with The Clash). Conran considered the breadth and application of creativity, questioning if, in the future, one of the graduates sitting in front of him could win a Nobel Prize. “Creativity and imagination are the engines of change,” he said.
But the loudest applause – and standing ovation from all in attendance – was heard for student representative Sarah Christie (BA Ceramic Design) who put into words the role of these new graduates in a post-Brexit world.
“The world that we’re graduating into may feel a little uncertain and colder than it did before. Those of us who wish to continue to look outward may be daunted by the prospect of some opportunities being curtailed so let’s hold one another close as we navigate stormy waters. Let’s listen to, and support each other and, above all, keep going. It might seem 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 than art and design education has taught us is that however safe and comfortable it may feel at the time, you don’t do anything interesting if you operate as an island. Our jobs as designers and artists is to make sense of the world, and to find ways of making it better for others, and there’s an awful lot to do.
Congratulations and good luck future friends, collaborators and colleagues.”