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Close up detail of Jessica Merritt's work

Summer Shows 2019: Jessica Merritt, BA Technical Arts and Special Effects

Written by Naomi Grey
Published date 11 June 2019

Jessica Merritt is one of our talented third year BA Technical Arts and Special Effects students, who will be exhibiting her work at the Wimbledon Summer Degree Show 2019.

We caught up with Jessica to discuss the highly personal concept behind her work which aims to raise awareness of invisible illnesses Fibromyalgia and M.E., how her practice has changed over the years and what she has enjoyed most about studying at Wimbledon.

Jessica Merritt finishing and painting model
Jessica Merritt painting model.

Can you tell us about the work you’re going to be showing at the summer show and why you chose this concept?

I have designed a made-up creature based on my disabilities Fibromyalgia and M.E. Fibromyalgia is a long-term condition which causes tiredness and widespread pain all over the body, and M.E. is a neurological condition which effects the nervous and immune systems. Often, it’s hard to explain something to people that they can’t see, so this piece is a personification of my pain and how I view it, to help others visualise and relate to my invisible illness. Ultimately, I want my work to impact, provoke and encourage conversations that will help raise awareness about invisible illnesses like mine and hopefully empower others with similar conditions.

What’s been the most enjoyable part about putting your piece together?

I really enjoyed the freedom of just being able to choose whatever concept I wanted from the beginning. Art is a form of self-expression, so being able to take a really personal subject and bring it to life felt quite liberating. My tutors have been so supportive and willing to learn about my condition. That’s probably been the nicest part – being able to tell my story and having people understand and acknowledge it, as I haven’t had that in the past.

Close up of Jessica Merritt's model
Jessica Merritt's finished model.

How has your practice changed since starting your degree?

It has changed quite a lot. When I first came to the university I thought I wanted to do prosthetics, and we did a course on that in second year, but I really enjoyed sculpting with clay and the process of making the mould and casting - and also using my art to create awareness. So, in a sense, I have changed from using my art just for film, to now really impacting the lives of other people with my artwork.

If you could sum up your final year in three words what would they be and why?

That’s a difficult one. But I’d definitely say rewarding, exhausting and…supportive. The technicians are a massive help and I don’t think any of us could have done this course without their knowledge, guidance and expertise.

Jessica Merritt work in progress
Jessica Merritt's clay model.

Overall, how would you say your experience has been studying at Wimbledon?

It was difficult at first, coming from my Foundation course, but it’s been a really good experience. I don’t want to leave! It’s been really rewarding and for anyone creative thinking about university, Wimbledon is definitely the place to go!

What advice would you give to the students who will be preparing for their summer degree show this time next year?

I’d say take time out to really think about what concept you want to focus on - don’t just do something because someone else is doing it. Stay true to what resonates with you, be authentic and really take the time to develop your ideas. Make sure it’s something you’re passionate about and make the most out of the tutors, don’t take them for granted!

If you would like to view more of Jessica’s work, head down to the Summer Show from 13 - 22 June

Find out more about BA Production Arts for Screen