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Chimney Burton Agnes
London Design Biennale 2018

Leeds Beckett sponsors the London Design Biennale 2018

Date: 4 September 2018 – 23 September 2018

Location: Somerset House, London, WC2R 1LA

The School of Art, Architecture & Design was delighted to sponsor the Leeds’ Room at this year’s international London Design Biennale.

We are driven by a common goal to inspire creativity and are always looking to work with partners from across the region and beyond to showcase the amazing talent of our students, staff and the City of Leeds. Being involved in the Biennale provided us with such an opportunity and we were thrilled to have been invited to be part of such a prestigious event.

Our Senior Fashion Lecturer and renowned designer Matty Bovan acted as curator and art director for the project, which in addition saw students from across the University getting involved. 

The project, entitled ‘Just/Unjust’, was created by Matty in conjunction with artists Rory Mullen and Adam Leach and in response to the 2018 Biennale's theme of Emotional States. Not only did it embody the vision of Bovan, Mullen & Leach but also demonstrates the University and the City’s commitment to be leaders in fashion, creativity and artistic endeavor.


Matty Bovan

Matty is an award-winning designer and newly appointed Senior Lecturer in Fashion at the School of Art Architecture & Design. He has been recognised as an emerging designer of distinction by the New York Times, Vogue, the Guardian and the Yorkshire Post and has designed for big names like Rhianna, Rita Ora, and even Barbie!

Matty Bovan(Credit: Lucy Alex Mac)

Graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2015 with an MA specialising in Fashion Knitwear, Matty’s 12-look graduate collection opened the final show, exhibiting his cacophony of sculptural knits, textures and wild, handmade adornments, which earned him the L’Oréal Professionel Creative Award, closely followed by the LVMH Graduate Prize 2015.

Championed by Katie Grand, who is consultant stylist on his shows, he has worked with Marc Jacobs and Miu Miu, and is a Senior Contributing Fashion Editor of LOVE Magazine. 

Matty has described his most recent spring/summer 2018 collection as having a “brutal perspective”, embracing the modern woman. Having initially trained in knitwear, Matty expresses that it is always at the core of what he does. The knitted pieces are tough and shredded, and the fabrications brutal. Taking inspiration from sci-fi films such as Blade Runner, Alien and Mad Max, he creates his own parallel world of post-apocalyptic utopianism.

Find out more here or follow Matty’s Instagram @babbym


Just / Unjust

The installation Just/Unjust is an abstract and surreal performance piece drawing on influences from folklore, witchcraft and inspired by the wooden chimneypiece depicting the ‘Dance of Death’ found in the Red Drawing Room at Burton Agnes Hall, an Elizabethan manor house in Yorkshire.

The chimneypiece features two groups of figures standing on either side of a central skeleton: the Just, who are about to be received by angels, and the Unjust, who are about to be claimed by the devil. It is both unsettling and dramatic: an evocation of heightened emotional extremes.

Burton Agnes Chimney Piece(Credit: Chimney piece from the Red Drawing Room, Burton Agnes Hall, Yorkshire)

Featuring a highly charged live tableau, comprising of video projections, live performance and sculpture, Matty also designed bespoke garments for the project, which were worn by the performers and also displayed on skeleton-like scarecrow sculptures formed from salvaged wood and found objects.

Further found materials and other forms handmade by the artists allude to the carving’s symbols of earthly vanity – crowns, gold, money – and are stomped on and destroyed during the performances. Examples of these damaged objects are presented in perspex cases on makeshift cabinets as enshrined relics from another time and world.

The aesthetic of the installation was inspired by British folklore, witchcraft and Aesop’s fables, with the filmed acts of frenzied destruction, performed by Bovan, Leech and Mullen, projected on three large fabric screens strung up with parachute cords.


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