All posts by bekahtamsin

Graphic Designer wanted!

Double D Creative

Position: Graphic Designer
Location: Lymm, North West
Salary: c. £25,000 (dependent on experience)
Contract: Permanent

This is an exciting opportunity for anyone looking for a fresh challenge. The role will involve working on a variety of projects for a great mix of clients from major brands to independents.

You will be expected to tackle advertising, branding and POS briefs as well as reports/brochure work and, anything else that is thrown your way, with well thought-out concepts and an exceptional eye for detail.

As part of a small team you must be a team player, enthusiastic, organised and come with a ‘can do’ approach.

Your daily role will require you to manage your time effectively across a number of projects and deal directly with clients and suppliers so good communication skills are essential.

Outstanding (Mac based) skills in the Adobe Creative Suite; Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign are essential. Knowledge of latest web technologies including HTML5 and CSS3 and an appreciation for UI, UX and general usability would be useful but not a must.

What we’re looking for:

  • Minimum of four years industry experience
  • Experience of dealing directly with clients and suppliers
  • Meticulous attention to detail
  • Ability to work on a number of projects at any one time
  • Good understanding of the print process
  • Confident, yet personable with good communication skills
  • Ability to operate creatively as well as within client brand guidelines

For more info and to apply

A BOTCH JOB ASSESSMENT AND THE CASE FOR FREE EDUCATION

Manchester University’s Education Officer explains why a free education system can – and must – work

Three years ago, I got my results for a multiple-choice test in Anthropology on a study-abroad semester in Amsterdam. Going through the answers, I was frustrated to find that I disagreed with the lecturer’s marking and vexed that my opinion could be so easily discredited. Broadly speaking, anthropology is about putting forward a perspective that considers many different and complex understandings of the world; not really about making a choice between A and B. I visited the lecturer a week later in his office and after a pretty fierce debate, he agreed there was a case to be made for many of my answers and increased my grade by 10%.

I always think back to this experience as one which motivated me to campaign for free education because – aside from the fact that I was able to informally argue my way up an entire degree classification, which speaks volumes about the feeble case for an ‘objective’ understanding of society – it is symbolic of many problems with our current education system.

1. If knowledge is for sale, then it is a product for consumption

One way of understanding how it ever became acceptable to assess anthropology by multiple choice – forcing us to learn a particular view of the world rather than encouraging us to create/understand our own – is to look at the way in which the privatisation of education has allowed a particular kind of economic value – individual, rather than social, investment – to determine how learning is managed and delivered. (Another, is to watch this wicked video about how age-old ideas from the industrial revolution still haunt the education system today.)

Since the government transferred the responsibility to pay for higher education from society onto individuals, universities have relied on the income generated by student fees to continue to function. As such, education is now bought and sold as a service by customers and universities compete with each other to sell that service and satisfy those customers; more students, more money.

In part, this leaves the quality and purpose of education as social good of secondary importance to its function as individual investment for those who can afford to pay to have their skills legitimised for employment into big business. Education becomes a customer service, a reserve of the privileged, with which students are more or less satisfied. In the case of my experience in Amsterdam, the need for students to pass exams and therefore demonstrate their eligibility to employers was more important than facilitating a discussion about how anthropology can transform society and empower people to do what they really want to do. To be who they really want to be.

This is problematic, of course, in a capitalist economy where the value of knowledge is determined by a person’s worth to the money machine, rather than as a critical, creative or practical resource for improving society. At this point, knowledge becomes a fixed object for consumption by individuals, rather than a collective tool for liberation.

2. Economic efficiency rather than social democracy: whose knowledge counts?

The decision to use multiple choice exams to assess anthropology was probably driven by the university’s need to cut costs since the withdrawal of government funding: multiple choice assessments require less time to mark. This decision reflects the motivation at the heart of our marketised education system: concentrate on achieving economic efficiency, rather than on encouraging creative and critical enquiry fit for positive social change.

The outcome?

Multiple choice assessment only allows for one narrative – your answer is either right or wrong. And this means that only a particular perspective is validated. But whose answer is right?

The fact that there is a huge dearth of women and black professors in Europe – at the University of Manchester only 22% of professors are women and 8% BME – should expose the ‘danger of a single story,’ (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie). This lack of diversity in the workforce is all too often reflected in a university’s curriculum/course material, where non-middle-class/white/straight/male/able perspectives are frequently overlooked.

This may mean – as it did for me in Amsterdam – that the legitimacy of certain identities and the needs of alternative learning styles are systematically disregarded.

We need a more democratic education system, one that accurately reflects the diversity of the nation’s population, where persons from all backgrounds are proportionally represented in all areas of university life – from the student population to the professorship. To get to that point, universities need to take immediate action. Under-represented groups need time and space to disagree with dominant perspectives – as well as encouragement to do so. This may mean that different forms of assessment, with more fluid and democratic means of determining what constitutes a ‘right’ answer are needed; an approach which cannot be realised alongside the further withdrawal of government funding from education.

3. Free and liberated education

It was my experience in Amsterdam that lead me to realise just how much it matters who teaches what. Society and the structures of oppression on which it is founded are (re)produced through the formal education system, so who decides what constitutes legitimate knowledge is fundamental to social change. If we are to build a society where education is liberating and accessible, it must be (a) fully funded by society through taxation in order that it (b) can be democratically managed and (c) delivered by a number of alternative education projects that provide a diverse range of teaching and learning methods that reflect the needs of and legitimise the skills of all people.

Education shouldn’t be about learning to tick the right boxes, it should be about gaining the skills and confidence to draw your own.

Harriet is Education Officer at Manchester University and leads the Free Education Campaign. This blog post was originally printed at freeeducationmcr.wordpress.com. Join us 20th March at Fuel for a fundraiser for the campaign! Watch this space for more details…

M20Collective @ Pangaea Festival: Space Odyssey [24 January 2015]

As We Are Away: 20th-30th November

Natalie Proctor previews the nous magazine/As We Are Away festival, taking place around the city 20-30 November

How lucky we are here in Manchester to have so much creativity on our doorstep! No matter what the artistic genre, there is always something going on in this vibrant northern city. This diversity of talent is something that self-established Nous Magazine champions. The magazine is a relatively new enterprise, which has a unique focus on ‘contemporary mind culture’. In collaboration with As We Are Away, the magazine has created a mini-festival for all things arty. AWAA is an art project with a difference, focused on overcoming the cultural stigma around mental health. The festival hopes to inspire us to think differently about mental illness, and learn to become more open and understanding about something that affects thousands of people across the UK.

The event, which goes on until the 30th November, will host a variety of acts throughout the creative sphere. Each night focuses on a different collection of some of Manchester’s finest artists, poets, musicians and directors. Whatever you may have an interest in, the AWAA mini-Festival will surely have something to spark your creative interest.

What makes this event even greater is that it’s free! Although donations are extremely appreciated, and do go on to ensure that these kind of fantastic events may continue. You can even buy an 11- day ticket that gives you access to all the events running for just £5.50. That seems like a bargain to me! We here at M20 would also strongly encourage you to make this donation, as we fully believe it is vital to support the arts to the best of our ability. Without such contributions we would find it hard to maintain the wealth of opportunities on offer for Manchester creatives.

So what’s on? Well, if you’re interested in poetry, there is Tea Hour Poetry on 25th November, which is sure to offer a plethora of new and old talent; including established writers like David Hartley, who we interviewed in October. This will be taking place at the trendy Northern Quarter café The Koffee Pot. Certainly not one to miss!

There is also a lot to offer in terms of music. On Thursday the 27th, the night As We Are Here will host some of Manchester’s most exciting up and coming bands and artists. The live music will continue into the evening at the Eagle Inn, and there will be a variety of sounds from the likes of Second Shepherds, POST and Locean.

If you fancy a little slice of the Cannes Film Festival in Manchester, then why not head over to the concluding night of the festival, curated by Cultivate Film Art. This evening will present some critically acclaimed foreign films, which may perhaps may a nice change from the outlandish Hollywood blockbuster. The documentary film ‘Black Sun’ (2005) by Gary Tarn tells the dramatic story of French artist Hugues de Montalembert who finds himself blinded after a violent attack in New York. It is a moving piece of cinema that is sure to strike a nerve. Also showing is the 1970 film adaptation of the novel ‘Valerie and Her Week of Wonders’. This erotic horror is somewhat otherworldly, and definitely different to what’s out there in the box office!

The festival has plenty more to offer so check out the website for a full list of the events coming up. And remember, the festival ends on the 30th November so don’t miss out. Keep supporting the arts.

Natalie Proctor

Email: hej@nous-magazine.de
Website: www.nous-magazine.de
Facebook: www.facebook.com/nousmagazinemanchester

An Interview with… Zara Khalique

Natalie Proctor chats to founder of positivity-focussed fashion label Keep It Bright! about Manchester, motivation and mind-set

www.keepitbright.co.uk

Living in one of the rainiest cities in the UK, alongside all the other struggles life can throw at you; it can be hard to stay optimistic. How do you remain a sunny person when you only see the sun a few times a year?! Well, Zara Khalique is pioneering a new creative philosophy that inspires us all to Keep it Bright! The fashion line, created by Zara some years ago, has gone from strength to strength, encouraging us all to express ourselves through bold and vibrant fashion.

“I really love Manchester and I love the way everyone feels free to express themselves! I know I always wear whatever I want, and know that I’ll see all kinds of style everywhere I go in the city and I love the variety!”

Zara, who has always been interested in the arts, began the label with relatively little experience. However, Zara candidly admits that she began the business not so much for her love of fashion, but for her want to spread the positive mantra after overcoming her own personal troubles.

“I realised your mind-set changes everything and that one person can help another so much, so that’s what I feel like I have to do!”

It’s certainly an admirable thing to have begun such an endeavour, not only from nothing, but also from a place of difficult circumstance. But, as Zara states, “challenges are a chance to grow”.

The importance of the message behind the movement is one that follows through to other aspects of Zara’s life. She also champions anti-violence/abuse/bullying campaigns (Someone’s Everything), which further underlines the ethical importance of Zara’s work.

Ethics aside, Keep It Bright is full of fabulous fashion. Even without the obvious positive message behind the clothes, they speak for themselves. Zara’s personal favourites, are her “heavily embellished one-off bras and hoodies” which are painstakingly handmade – but definitely worth the effort! Some of Zara’s more casual items also have that individual edge, but are perhaps a little more accessible for everyday wear. Even fashionista Zara admits; “I love a good sweatshirt!”.

One of my personal favourites from Zara’s collection is the simple but gorgeous white cropped sweatshirt, with the trademark inspirational quotation around the collar “choose happiness”. This sort of simple detailing is typical in Zara’s line.

zara khalique 1

I also took a look at one of Zara’s stalls which was up in Fallowfield in September, and fell in love with this pink crochet halter. I loved the simplicity of the shape and the muted pink colour, which makes the piece slightly less seasonal specific. Though I must confess, I may be perhaps a little biased on this one, as I own this lovely item now!

zara khalique 2

Zara’s work doesn’t stop at clothing. The beautifully crafted accessories are also a great feature of the collection. These detailed make up and clutch bags are stunning, but also extremely good value for money.

zara khalique 3

So what does the future have in store for this movement? Despite not being one for planning too far ahead, Zara confesses she would love to see Keep it Bright flourish even more, and become “the place everyone knows to go when they need positivity and a mind-set millions live by!”. Certainly, there is something to be said for the uniqueness of Zara’s movement, given the often harsh and – let’s face it – judgemental world of fashion. From the size 0 models to the undying practice of airbrushing in every image published for public viewing; it is refreshing to see such a positive spin on fashion. Frankly, it seems strange to me that more fashion labels don’t see the problem with this form of negative advertising. Additionally, the connotations of designing for models rather than real women, can mean that fashion becomes less and less accessible to the majority.

This is something Keep It Bright avoids. The collection is forward thinking in that it harnesses the power of expression that fashion can have, and uses it in a positive way. Zara’s clothes are designed with both art and practicality in mind. Fabulous clothes that flatter and carry a strong message should be at the forefront of the industry.

Until, I’m sure, the inevitable day when Keep it Bright is a household name worldwide, it will continue, as Zara always intended, as a source of “positivity, light and motivation when [people] need it most”.

Natalie Proctor

Catch Zara and keep it bright! at the Remake Remodel Vintage & Art Fair at Ruby Lounge on 29 November

Visit the keep it bright! website

Follow keep it bright! on Twitter