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The Underground University presents FoFU 2

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By Jessica-May Gilbert and Bethany Turner


This time last year The Underground University didn’t exist. Founded in January 2017, the collective of Textiles students came together to reignite a spark that they felt was missing from the art school environment – a sense of rebellious community.

After hosting student-led events and socials for four months, The Underground University imagined something bigger. In May 2017, they exhibited The Fear of F*£%ing Up (FoFU) in Benzie building’s vertical gallery; a celebration of the common dread that links all art students.

FoFU is an idea born from overthinking and the inevitable anxiety of producing art/design work that is highly personal, an idea that rejected the notions of playing it safe. Curated over three huge walls and the Benzie Café, FoFU showcased ‘failed’ art and design work collected from around the School of Art and celebrated it. The funny thing was that most of the submissions were beautiful and interesting and special in their own right.

With an opening evening celebration fueled by friends, live music and a true sense of community (and one or two beers), The Underground University had achieved it’s aim: to bring people together. The exhibition itself lasted a week but the lasting effects are still being felt, especially on the Textiles course, where students feel nurtured by one another and safe to have ‘failures’ in an environment that encourages growth and experimentation.

And now The Underground University are doing it again. From 13-17th November 2017 the Benzie vertical gallery will play host to FoFU 2 – Still F*£%ing Up. Showcasing more ‘failed’ artwork and investigating the emotions behind our ‘failures’, FoFU 2 aims to celebrate, commiserate and entice more students to come together. With the hope that other art schools around the country will join in with Manchester School of Art’s celebration and prove that all art students have The Fear of F*£%ing Up.

Olivia Tew, a Level 4 Textiles in Practice student who has recently joined the movement, said: “My favourite thing about being part of The Underground University is portraying the powerful message about overcoming the fear of failure and the need for re-connection, reflection and a bit of self-love. Through the Underground University and the FoFu exhibition, we are trying to break down the common stereotypes of what success looks like and instead reevaluate the different stages of creation and what it actually means to ‘mess up’.

“For me, the feeling that you are failing is actually something to commend. It shows that you are going through a period of questioning, thinking and reflection which are all integral to the design process (and life in general)! Plus, I think that opening up about messing up is bold as there is a lot of pressure to be the best at the moment. It shows that you do not just conform for conformity’s sake and that you understand that failure is often part of the process to greatness.”


Join the opening evening of FoFU 2 – Still F*£%ing Up on Monday 13th November, 6-9pm.

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