Svg patterns

Johan Sandborg, Pro Rector, Bergen Academy of Art and Design Norway; newly appointed Visiting Professor at Nottingham Trent University.

Duncan Higgins, Professor of Visual Art, Nottingham Trent University; Academic Chair, Bonington Gallery;  Professor in Fine Art, Bergen Academy of Art and Design Norway.

To coincide with the opening of the Returns exhibition, we’re delighted to host the UK premier book launch of three new publications – In a Place Like This. Their focus, an on-going artistic research project, exploring both personal and historical traditions concerned with a relationship to the representation of violence.

In a Place Like This explores the echoes of places, people and the impact of terrible histories. The central question to the research is the difficulty we face when we try to communicate our most intimate experiences to others.

Sandborg and Higgins have focused on the language of imagery, what it may represent and how to make ideas and emotions visible. This exploration is neither an explanation nor a mystification; rather it attempts to propose visual discussions.

In a Place Like This is assembled as a montage, an interwoven idea, in an attempt to review a narrative within the spaces in which it is inscribed.

Read more about In a Place Like This


Made in Wood was a collaborative exhibition and research event between staff and Architecture students from Nottingham Trent University and Bergen Academy of Art and Design, Norway (KHiB).

The exhibition formed out of discussions with KHiB in relation to the annual Bergen International Wood Festival.

Taking inspiration from Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, the students addressed how global cities seem to challenge the laws of gravity, with soaring skyscrapers that compete to reach imposing heights.

Watch the video above to see the city of wood take form in the Gallery.

The Gallery was split into three distinctive districts overlooked by a bridge; each district depicted a different interpretation of a city scape.

The Bridge

Built to overlook the city, the bridge provided a focal point from all areas. An atmosphere of power and superiority was portrayed, contrasting with the ghetto below.

The Ghetto

Situated to the left of the bridge, this district represented the need for housing in built-up areas; how nationalities come together to build communities out of whatever can be found. A tight, enclosed atmosphere was created by the narrow spaces and multiple routes through the district.


As you looked to the right of the bridge this area was built to represent the historical industrial background of both Nottingham and Bergen and many cities around the world. It portrayed a ‘gritty’ atmosphere that was present before modern technology took over.

Lights of the Modern City

Placed at the rear of the Gallery, this district represented the growth of the modern city and how lighting from it can impact on surrounding areas. It drew particular attention to how imposing modern structures can be. The lighting creates a spiritual atmosphere and futuristic feel, acting as a beacon for all in the city.

Download a copy of the Made in Wood student brief

The wood used in this exhibition was kindly donated by John A. Stephens of Lady Bay, Nottingham.

Instagram Takeover #MADEINWOOD

For the duration of the Made in Wood exhibition we handed over our Instagram account to the students from Bergen and NTU, for them to create a visual diary of their experience. Check out their story on the Bonington Gallery Instagram feed.

Exhibition Handout

Click here to download the exhibition handout

From Our Blog

Returns formed part of an on-going collaboration between Nottingham Trent University and Sheffield Hallam University (SHU). Established in 2012, it developed out of an International Research Project titled Topographies of the Obsolete, set up by Bergen Academy of Art and Design, Norway; and focused on the disused ceramics factory in Stoke-on-Trent, Spode Works.

The aim of the research was to deepen and develop our understanding of the post-industrial landscape with specific reference to the industrial ruin. Through a series of residencies and workshops, a cross-disciplinary group of artists and researchers from a range of international art institutions set out to explore the socio-economic histories, industrial architecture and production remains of the former Spode Works The results of the research were exhibited and published during the British Ceramics Biennial in September 2013 and Seconds, in the Lace Market Gallery in March 2014.

The exhibition at Bonington Gallery was the first showing of the newly generated outcomes, with a subsequent exhibition taking place at Sheffield Hallam SIA Gallery in Winter 2016. Each exhibition showed a new development from the work previously exhibited, demonstrating the progression of the research.

The exhibition brought together artistic research from NTU:
Andrew Brown, Joanne Lee, Danica Maier, Debra Swann, and Chloë Brown from SHU.

Recent fine art graduates who participated in the original Spode project were in residence during the exhibition, from NTU:
Ciaran Harrington, and Christine Stevens.

Discussion Workshops

Throughout the Returns exhibition, researchers from the project led a series of discussion workshops. Each session was intended for a small group of invited speakers and participants who considered a specific area emerging from the concerns uncovered in Returns’ research through practice.

The discussions took the form of presentations, group conversations and practical activities. Their aim was to bring together professionals and practitioners to reflect upon three particular points of focus:

Digging through Dirt: Archaeology past, present, precious and unwanted 
Wednesday 11 February,  1 pm – 2.15 pm

Artists will have your Ruin: Regeneration through the arts 
Wednesday 18 February,  1 pm – 2.15 pm

Ruins of Craft: Lost art of making 
Wednesday 25 February,  1 pm – 2.15 pm

Exhibition resources:

From Our Blog

Summer Lodge celebrated its 5 Year Anniversary in 2014. For ten days each July, the Fine Art studios and workshops of Nottingham Trent University are transformed and play host to a gathering of thirty diverse artists.

As part of this celebration the Gallery was used as a testing space, giving the public a glimpse into the activities of the Lodgers through live stream to screens in the foyer before being used as an exhibition space.

The Lodge was a collective space in which to undertake experiments, pursue new ideas and allow unexpected leaps of imagination. Participants in the Summer Lodge came together with the aim of initiating new dialogues and critical exchange through engaging in a period of sustained studio / workshop practice.

This years participants included artists from Nottingham Trent UniversitySheffield Hallam UniversityBergen Academy of Art and Design; Harrington Mills Studios; One Thoresby Street; and Backlit Studios.

At the completion of the Lodge, the Gallery was opened to the public to showcase the diverse range of work created across the ten days.


Summer Lodge: 30 June – 11 July 2014 (public could watch activities unfolding via live stream in the foyer)

Exhibition: 14 – 22 July 2014

For more information, and for ongoing documentation during the Lodge, visit: