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Class of 2021


Circa and Dazed join forces to launch the Class of 2021, a new global arts initiative which will award 30 artists the opportunity to exhibit their work on the iconic Piccadilly Lights screen as well as K-Pop Square in Seoul and Yunika Vision in Tokyo this September. Class of 2021 will also be offered access to the Dazed Space, a new multimedia studio complex in London and have their work and stories platformed across Dazed Media’s digital and social channels to a global audience of millions.

One lucky finalist will receive a #CIRCAECONOMY prize of £30,000 to help kick start their career at a challenging time for young artists around the world. Generated from the sale of affordable prints by Circa artists including Patti Smith, Ai Weiwei and David Hockney, #CIRCAECONOMY profits are circulated back into helping build an economy that commissions new public art in our communities, nurtures more diverse cultural industries, and emerging creative potential. Coinciding with the first anniversary of Circa, the Class of 2021 winner will be chosen from the 30 finalists by a special judge and announced 1 October, 2021 at the Dazed Live in London.
Class of 2021 was co-created by Circa and Dazed to spotlight and support the next generation of artists working in moving-image. With public art spaces diminishing, investment in arts education being cut and artist communities at risk, the joint initiative aims to empower youth through creativity and platform new voices and points of view from local communities on a global level, giving them unrivalled media exposure and access to Circa and Dazed’s combined networks.

The open call for Class of 2021 invites emerging artists from all over the world to submit a two-and-a-half minute video that responds to the theme ‘Communion’, this year’s thematic set by lecturer and interdisciplinary artist Angel Rose.

Josef O’Connor, Founder of Circa says: “#CIRCAECONOMY stemmed from Zoom discussions with the Dazed team last year. Responding to the challenges faced by the creative community, we sold affordable prints for £100 with the plan to circulate profits back into commissioning and supporting culture. A few thousand prints later, we’re proud to arrive full circle and partner with Dazed to unlock the future of art.’

Lynette Nylander, Executive Editorial Director of Dazed says: “This summer Dazed celebrates 30 years of championing next generation creative talent making it serendipitous that this year we also launch this prize with Circa to platform the 30 next big names in art. It’s never been a more challenging time for young artists, so we’re hoping that this new partnership will create important new opportunities. I’m looking forward to seeing the work!”.


The symbol of Anteros has become the poster child for the Class of 2020 project. Taking its image from the nearby Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain on the Southeastern side of Piccadilly Circus, the ancient Greek god Anteros is a symbol of requited love and hope, whlst also the punisher of those who deride love and the advances of others.
Class of 2020 is dedicated to every art student in the UK who, due to COVID-19 restrictions, were denied the highlight of a Degree Show. The artists selected celebrate diversity, new perspectives and seek to create dialogues between mediums, disciplines and backgrounds whilst amplifying the voices of the next generation. Together they are a cross-section of new artistic talent in the mediums of digital art, painting, sculpture, architecture, moving image and performance. The Class of 2020 has been co-curated by Aindrea Emelife and Jody Mulvey.

Agnieszka Szczotka
Lady from Charleston
Royal Academy of Arts

Bo Choy
War of Perception
Slade School of Fine Art

Cat & Éiméar McClay
Queer Use
Edinburgh College of Art

Si Zuo Chen
Central Saint Martins

Clara Hastrup
Royal Academy of Arts

Goldsmiths University

Evie Edwards
Edinburgh College of Art

Farid Karim
Soldier Playing Darbuka
Royal College of Art

Geraldine Snell
Slade School of Fine Art

Kiera Saunders
Vomiton Collective, Demon Face Plant & Octopus Mermaid
Edinburgh College of Art

Jenkin van Zyl
Curtain Call
Royal College of Art

Kimie Minobe
With Love from the USA
Slade School of Fine Art

Liana Bernardo
The god in You - Nut, Ancient Kemetic Deity (Visual Deities)
Manchester School of Art

Lydia Makin
Submerged in a Forest Bath
Slade School of Fine Art

Oma Keeling
Happy Birthday Reece
Edinburgh College of Art

Penny Neale
Annierose's Sausage Party
Arts University Bournemouth

Rafał Zajko
Goldsmiths University

Rene Matić
Here You Are
Central Saint Martins

Shamica Ruddock
Mediations on Body
Open School East

Sofia Hallström
Edinburgh College of Art

Lillian Ross-Millard
Bright Future
Glasgow School of Art

Angus Macdonald
Glasgow School of Art

Luca Celi
The Raft of the Medusa
University of Brighton

Klara Zofia Szafranska
The Artist Who Wanted To Have A Tiger
Loughborough University

Benjamin Hall
Glasgow School of Art

Jake Major
Official Preview
Chelsea College of Art

Gavin Clark
Glasgow School of Art

Lucy Bentley
Holding On
Kingston School of Art

Jamie Steedman
Ideal Life Radio Show
Royal College of Art

Irini Bachlitzanaki
Deep Summer
Royal Academy Schools

Heather McCleary
Subtle Landscapes
Glasgow School of Art

Jahnavi Inniss
Black British History 1729-1875
University of the Arts London: Central Saint Martins

Isabella McEvoy
Kingston School of Art

Sholto Blisseq
Garden of Hubris
Royal College of Art

Ben Dawson
I’m calling your bluff
Kingston University

Lucy Fincheq-Maddock
Umbilical Buddy
University of Brighton

Wei Zhang
Father, Dad, Daddy
Glasgow School of Art

Eleanor Beale & Rosa Villanueva
Memory CD: ROSA
Edinburgh College of Art

Sooun Kim
Yellow Fever
Glasgow School of Art

Jay Darlington
Free Fall
Glasgow School of Art

Peter Spanjer
Make Me Safe
Royal College of Art

Sae Yeoun Hwang
Peng Ting PainCng
Royal College of Art

Lydia Peit
I Could Never Cross My Legs
Royal College of Art

Valerie Asiimwe Amani
In MoCon
University of Oxford

Dexter Strokes-Mellor
I listen to Blue Monday every Monday
Glasgow School of Art

Jamie Welsh
The Ambassador’s Suit
Goldsmiths College

Fai Chung
Architectural Association


JO Hey, I’m Josef, nice to meet you.

JM Hi, I’m Jody (laughs)

JO Are you in Scotland?

JM Yeah I’m in Scotland.

JO Whereabouts?

JM I’m like right in the middle between Glasgow and Edinburgh.

JO Oh alright, Did you study at any of those universities?

JM Yeah, I studied at Edinburgh College of Art, I’ve just graduated. (laughs)

JO So you’re one of the sad grads?

JM Yeah. I am the ‘sad grad’ (laughs) (sighs). Where are you based about?

JO I am in London, in Bethnal Green.

JM Oh nice. Did you go to uni in London?

JO No, I dropped out of school when I was 17.

JM Oh really?

JO Yeah.

JM Fair enough (laughs)

JO So yeah, speaking from the other side everything is fine

JM Thank you, it was more just like a catchy name that my friend came up with for… I was feeling sad for a week but now I’m more like whatever. (laughs)

JO Talk to me about this, what is @sadgrads2020? How did it come about?

JM So... @SadGrads2020 is a platform to support 2020 art school graduates who had their degree shows cancelled due to covid19, and it came about because I’d lost my degree show and I had seen all my friends really upset about having lost their degree shows too.

My mom said to me: “You need to remember that this is something that’s impacting everyone’s life”, and it made me think about all of the other art schools across the UK that were all going through a similar situation, so then I started a platform, to like help people share their work and get out there without having a physical degree show, and just like create like a supportive community for people, uhmm because it was like a really difficult time and i think it can feel really isolating as well, especially when you’re in lockdown and can’t leave your flat or house or anything like that. I just wanted to create a community for people to feel like supported through a sad situation, yeah.

JO How does it work? Tell me, How did it grow? Where did it start?

JM So it started by just me, started up an instagram page and then I just started receiving submissions from people. People just sent in their work, their statement, their institution, etc. Then I just like, post their work and then I also post like resources and opportunities... But it, like, grew really quickly, and I’m still kind of surprised by how fast it grew. I think it was quite early on that The White Pube and stuff were sharing it, which I thought was The White Pube and stuff were sharing it, which I thought was really wild. Then, kind of just grew from there, really, uhmm then it turned into like me making a zine of people’s work, then it just

kind of like, you know, domino effect turned into, like, something bigger. Which I honestly never expect at all.

JO The Zine is really beautiful. Who designed the graphics for it?

JM That was a person called Ruben, Ruben Buffery (@_rgb_designs_) I can never pronounce his second name. But he’s a Leeds based designer and he was also graduating next year, so I posted his work on Sad Grads and then I really loved his work then he came to me with the idea to do the zine and then it just happened (laughs).

Yeah, so it was really cool. Yeah, I was honestly, like, amazed at the zine. He put it together so quickly, just came to me with this design and was like, “I’ve been mocking about on the computer and came up with this, What do you think?” I was honestly amazed by it, he’s like, so good.

JO And who else have you been really impressed by that you’ve come across during this time?

JM I’ve been impressed by so many people, particularly like animation. Just because I’m in school of arts, so like, I don’t usually see design that much when I’m in art school, so like getting to see a lot of design students was very interesting to see, especially animation, I really enjoyed that. Like, Cambridge School of Art was, the work they were sending in was ridiculously good, their illustration students were really good as well. So they’re like the main ones I can think of off the top of my head.

JO How do you run the process? Would students submit their work via DM?

JM So people would either send their work through instagram dm’s or by email; they’d send like up to 10 images, a statement, their name, institution, their instagram website. I’d process them and then I’d put all of them up online.

JOThis is so amazing! What you’ve done is you’ve taken a bad situation and found a way to turn it into a positive, but in doing so you’ve also built a community

JM Yeah! I mean, honestly at the start I was maybe expecting 50 people to follow, and that would've been fine for me ‘cause that would’ve been a community that way. It just seems pretty wild to me how much it has grown.

JO People love a catchy name, once you’ve got a catchy title you’re halfway there

JM (laughs) I have my friend to thank for that, I was like ‘going to start the platform but I don’t have a name so I can’t start it. And then she was like “Oh, you should call it SadGrads2020”, and I was like right that’s uhh… (laughs)

JO How many followers do you now have?

JM I think like over 6k, like 6.3k last time I checked.

JO That’s fantastic

JM Yeahh, It's really wild

JO And you’ve had quite a lot of engagement, right?

JM Yeah, I do, I feel like I’m really lucky ‘cause the people that follow the platform, they seem to be pretty responsive and also like, pretty supportive. Like, some of the comments you have is like “Yeah, I’m in the industry, I really enjoyed it, I wish you all the like, pretty supportive. Like, some of the comments you have is like “Yeah, I’m in the industry, I really enjoyed it, I wish you a

JO So, what’s your art like? What do you do in fine arts?

JM I primarily make installation which is why the cancellation of my degree show was such a major issue for me, so I could only make models and maquettes of what I was really planning to do. So I usually work from, like, drawing and collages and then build big installations which you can like walk through. It’s usually to do with like, slight responsive immersive installations and stuff like that. They’re usually bright and colorful, so yeah, that’s my work usually.

JO What are your thoughts for the future? Graduating in 2020, at the start of a new decade: how do you see the world looking forward?

JM I feel like it was always gonna be a bit scary to be graduating. And I think especially being in a global pandemic had me feeling a bit stressed about graduating. I think like, through this platform and through building a community it’s giving me a lot of hope, like a sort of shift in the arts in which we’ll become more supportive of each other which I think is a good time to be coming into the arts ‘cause I feel like that’s how we make opportunities for each other, through being really supportive of each other. Uhm, I would say at this moment in time I’m not as stressed as I was maybe a couple months ago or maybe even like a few years ago. But it’s still really daunting to sort of be going out to the arts world and not really knowing what to do sometimes ‘cause I feel like when you’re at art school you’re not really set up to be in the art world. You’re just set up in this bubble of making work, so you’re not really set up to be an artist in the real world. As in like an art school bubble, so yeah.

JO What does it mean to you to be an artist?

JM For me, it’s being able to support my practice, being able to like ‘make’ work: drawings, collages, maquettes and stuff like that, but then also I like, consider part of my art practice like being able to have exhibitions, everything like that, whether that be with other people or like by myself, but usually it’d be with other people. I feel like that’s a major part of what I’d been doing at art school, is like trying to have exhibitions for other people as well.

JO Who are your favorite artists? Who do you admire?

JM Always Phyllida Barlow, like I rant and rave about her so much (laughs). But I feel like she is my top favorite artist, ever.

JO Do you like her big installations?

JM Yeah, like she did this one exhibition in the fruit market, which is how I got introduced to her, which is this gallery in Edinburgh and I went like 5 times to it, and then they started like, dismantling the exhibition and they started putting it out into the skip and then I jumped in the skip and got like a piece of canvas and framed it in my room (laughs)

JO (laughs)

JM So yeah, I traveled to Venice to see her as well.

JO Biennale?

JM Yeah, (chuckles)

JO It was quite impressive, I’m always amazed by the physicality of her installations. It’s very masculine in the physical sense, but then when you’re standing in the presence of it… I felt like I was stepping into a womb at the Biennale…

JM Yeah…

JO Because it was so huge and it kind of engulfs you...

JM Yeah, it was just massive, I think also because like the entrance you don’t really get a suggestion of the height of it as well. But when you walked in you just looked up and it was just like all these columns like, towering above you, yeah it was really cool.

JO What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt this year? Let’s leave with that question…

JM That, mhmmm…. That’s such a difficult question, I feel like probably something to do with the necessity of supporting each other, and how that way you’re a lot stronger. Yeah, that would be my biggest lesson from this year.

JO I agree, and what better example than this digital community you’ve created. So, congratulations and thank you so much for your time!