From projects exploring decoloniality, archives and power to a speculative view of how England would look without water supplies, this year's MullenLowe NOVA Award Winners demonstrate how creative practice can shape the future.
Presented by global communications network MullenLowe Group, the annual MullenLowe NOVA Awards celebrate exceptional work by graduating students from across our end of year shows. This year in particular, we celebrate the ingenuity of the students and their ability to push the boundaries of creative thinking in response to the world around us.
From 1,300 graduating students, 46 were nominated by their Course Leaders for their final-year projects. An expert panel of judges then decided the final shortlist of 14 – from which just five awards were presented to students today in a live online ceremony. We heard from the shortlisted students, Head of College Jeremy Till, Chief Creative Officer for MullenLowe Group Jose Miguel Sokoloff and this year's judges.
Jeremy Till opened this year's first ever online ceremony:
“The reason that these awards are important is because over the last 10 years they have collected this amazing archive of work. In particular, they show how our students and staff are responding to the times – which has never been more important than this year when our students have had to pivot round and address new ways of delivery, new ways of working and most importantly new ways of thinking about the world that we all face.”
“The object of these awards is to make sure that these emerging talents, who are pushing at the boundaries of their specific field but also the boundaries of humanity and society, are recognised and given yet another platform from which to shine. This is one of the highlights of my year, including this year, because of how exciting it is to see all these talented students always come up with incredible things that we never would have thought of.” – Jose Miguel Sokoloff, Global President, MullenLowe Group Creative Council, Chief Creative Officer, MullenLowe Group
Winner and YourNOVA Award Winner: Sandra Poulson
Graduating from BA Fashion: Fashion Print, Poulson was awarded the main prize for her project An Angolan Archive. She defines the work as "an archival piece of information explored through documents, artefacts, garments, moments, headlines, oral tradition, historical data, that define the sociocultural, economic, political, ethnic and cultural landscape of Angola."
Poulson's on-going project utilises a selection of common household Angolan items to discuss the relationship between family and inherited societal memory from colonial Angola and the civil war. It aims to dismantle contemporary Angola through semiotics studies of such ordinary objects as actors in cultural and political on-going transformations.
Poulson was also awarded the YourNOVA Prize – voted for by the general public. We spoke to Poulson back in June about her graduate collection.
Runners-up: Mathilde Rougier and Joseph Standing
The two runner-up awards were given to BA Fashion Design Womenswear graduate Mathilde Rougier and Joseph Standing from MA Industrial Design.
Rougier's project Modular Augmented Capsule is a capsule collection of garments designed from waste. Using modular construction to minimise waste, natural dyes, upcycled hotel sheeting and hand melted plastic packaging, the collection aims to find sustainable alternatives for fashion and textile design.
In his work, Standing offers a speculative view on how England would look if freshwater supplies no longer existed. Aqua No More is a critical, public engagement project made up of a series of voicemails overlaid with graphics. These three scenarios are conveyed through graphics and speech from the angle of inhabitants of London and the governing body The Ministry of Water. The project aims to inform and enact discourse of the dangers of water pollution and the fragility of water ecosystems, and how their degradation could impact our lives further down the line.
Unilever #Unstereotype Award: Jahnavi Inniss
“The Unstereotype Award recognises inclusive, forward-thinking work, and this year’s winner is a really thoughtful, creative student who told a very authentic story but also had some sort of resolution. The more recognition this work gets the more beneficial it is, not just to the student, but also to society.”
"It’s amazing to be nominated because the key theme within my project is visibility so I’m extremely grateful that the public can now see and access my work and they can learn something new and real change can begin. What I have explored is just a small fragment and there are so many more stories in history which need to be told and acknowledged.” – Jahnavi Inniss
We interviewed Inniss last month about her project and experiences working during lockdown. Read our full interview.
Inniss' quilt is also currently on view at London Grads Now at Saatchi Gallery – an exhibition of 2020 graduates from London's leading fine art schools.
This year's MullenLowe NOVA Awards were judged by Sara Gulamali, Hannah Hayes-Westall, Suhair Khan, Kelly Mullen, Ana Sokoloff and Jose Miguel Sokoloff. Explore the work of our award-winners and all nominees on our Graduate Showcase.