Art and design are powerful tools to raise awareness and inform observers of societal issues. That’s what Stephen Burridge focused on for his final piece at Cardiff Metropolitan University.
The 28-year old just completed his undergraduate in Graphic Communication at the Cardiff School of Art and Design and will showcase his completed design work,‘Tolerance’, at the school’s summer show. His exhibition looks to educate visitors and fixates on the difference between tolerance and inclusion.
He explains: “Whilst tolerance can have an impact on legal changes and amendments, it does not automatically change public opinions or societal attitudes. As a society, we tend to tolerate things even if we do not approve of the changes or even wish they didn’t exist, and this is shown in our everyday lives. Despite the laws, minority groups still struggle to be fully accepted and included by society. Yet, we continue to tell minority groups that tolerance is a positive change, when in reality we should strive for inclusion.”
As an LGBTQ+ person, Stephen turned his passion for equality into his graphic design practice. Through his project he hopes to not only celebrate diversity butrecognise the difficulties people within the LGBTQ+ community continue to face.
By exploring each of the pieces on display at the CSAD summer show, Stephen hopes the audience will be more informed about the realities of the LGBTQ experience. By incorporating facts, important dates and public comments, in his designs, Stephen accentuates the positive and negative effects of tolerance.
“I think it’s great we celebrate how society has developed and legal changes have transformed many lives. Yet, I wanted to highlight in this piece that being tolerated isn’t the goal. Tolerance shows how far we still have to go and underlines that, as a society, we should not be complacent by how far we have come and still look ahead to what needs to be changed.”
Stephen always had an interest into graphic design but was unsure whether he’d have the relevant skills. After taking a seven-year break from education, Stephen decided to take the plunge and develop his passion further at a local college, starting a Foundation course in Graphic Communication, before transferring to Cardiff Met’s School of Art and Design.
He said: “Going back into education wasn’t an easy decision, but I am grateful I did. Everyone at the School of Art and Design has been supportive and accommodating. It’s been amazing to experiment a variety of techniques and a wide range of equipment and tools. It has not only improved my skills but has also made me confident in my work. Everyone encourages you to tackle subjects that matter to you, which has made me realise how powerful pieces of design can be. By exploring each of the pieces on display in the Degree Show I hope that visitors will be more informed about the realities of the LGBTQ+ experience.”
Stephen’s work will be presented at the CSAD summer show along with other final year students’ art and design pieces. The show runs from Wednesday 29 May until Tuesday 4 June. For more information, visit: https://www.cardiffmet.ac.uk/artanddesign/Pages/CSAD-Summer-Show.aspx