Design students at Birmingham City University have a created a life-size installation made entirely out of paper and cardboard bringing six-legged creatures from across the globe to life to mark Insect Week (June 21 – 27) as well as a return to campus.

Dozens of first-years worked around the clock to create the intricate pieces of artwork, each reflecting an anatomically created insect, on a human-sized scale using around 700 metres of paper and corrugated cardboard.

The project, which was started during the UK’s lockdown, saw 20 students from the University’s Design for Performance: Theatre, Film and Live Events course work individually at home to research, draw and plan construction of three insects of their choosing based on any creature native to countries spanning five continents.

As Covid restrictions eased and students became more accustomed to wearing masks and being socially distanced in a studio at Birmingham’s historic School of Art building, the group came together to work around the clock to create the immersive installation.

The concept to create insects came after students who were unable to access studio space during the national lockdown, imagined the space had been overrun by creatures. The installation pays tribute to many of the buildings which have been left vacant while people across the country played their part in tackling Covid-19, and celebrates students’ return to campus.

Student Jess Ingram has designs on a career in creating immersive sets for festivals. She said:

“We’ve not been at Margaret Street (home of the School of Art) for very long. And so they’ve sort of overtaken and like it kind of, in its own way, the idea made me uncomfortable, which is, I think, is also the point of it. When I began to sort of research insects, I definitely found that they made me feel really strange. I went for a Brazilian tree Hopper, which is insane looking. It’s just one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever seen. So we were encouraged to try things that were that were different.

“It was so nice to be back. I think everyone kind of felt the same how like when we all walked in, it was like we can interact with each other again, speak face to face, you know, and what’s best is that we’ve been able to bounce off each other. I’ve been able to ask people and learn from people; it’s just been so nice for that like social aspect as well. Some of us have been pulling 12 hour days – 8am to 8pm – here so it’s been it’s been very intense!”

The annual paper installation has picked up momentum, profile and media interest in recent years, with themes including the Great British Music Festival, World War One Centenary, and Shakespeare’s 400th birthday.

Graduates from the Birmingham School for Creative Arts discipline have gone on to work for Boomtown Fair, the Royal Shakespeare Company, Selfridges and the V&A.

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