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Young artists’ British Art Show inspired artwork unveiled by Cold War Steve

Young artists’ British Art Show inspired artwork unveiled by Cold War Steve

Young artists from across the West Midlands welcomed renowned local artist, Cold War Steve, to the University of Wolverhampton School of Art recently to reveal their British Art Show 9 (BAS9) inspired artwork.

Cold War Steve, otherwise known as Christopher Spencer, is a University of Wolverhampton Honorary Graduate and a British collage artist and satirist and the creator of the Twitter feed @coldwarsteve. His work typically depicts a grim, dystopian location in England populated by British media figures, celebrities, and politicians, with EastEnders actor Steve McFadden (in character as Phil Mitchell) looking on.

Cold War Steve joined the Mayor and Mayoress of Wolverhampton to officially launch the exhibition which was attended by over 60 young people, teachers, artists and families who came together to celebrate the creative learning and achievements of young artists across the West Midlands.

Cold War Steve said: “I know how beneficial creating art can be for your mental health. The last two years have been tough for young people and to see work from all age groups and abilities on display feels like a breath of fresh air, symbolising the shoots of recovery coming through to blow away the past two years. This is a fabulous initiative and I’m really pleased to have been a part of it.”


Maggie Ayliffe, Head of the School of Art, said: “This exhibition of young people’s artwork highlights that BAS9 exhibiting in Wolverhampton was not just for people who knew about art but an occasion for the whole city to celebrate art and get involved. The Inspired by British Art Show 9 Arts Connect Learning Programme has given young people the opportunity to use contemporary art as a really important tool of expression creating an inclusive and relevant exhibition of young artists’ work.”

Over 120 artworks from 23 local West Midlands schools and colleges were displayed at Wolverhampton School of Art and Wolverhampton Art Gallery in celebration of the creative achievements of local young people who were inspired by BAS9 when the exhibition came to Wolverhampton for the first time.

In the run-up to the showcase, students worked closely with teachers and local artists to create stunning contemporary art in response to the Inspired by British Art Show 9 Arts Connect Learning Programme.

Picture caption: Angelpreet Singh with her work and Hannah Willetts, Art Teacher from Colton Hills Community School. 

The Inspired by British Art Show 9 Arts Connect Learning Programme is a collaboration between the University of Wolverhampton, Arts Connect, local teachers, young people and

artists who have worked together to create dynamic contemporary arts programmes in schools across the West Midlands.

For the exhibition, the learning programme explored contemporary visual art and worked in new and exciting ways to encourage young people to investigate their own identities, looking at how art can reflect the real world and become a powerful form of self-expression.

Becky Thompson, Arts Connect BAS9 Learning Programme Manager at the University of Wolverhampton said: “Since 2020, when the Inspired by BAS9 Arts Connect Learning programme started, our aim has been to show young people that contemporary art is such a varied and exciting thing that is accessible to everyone. It’s been amazing to see how young artists have grown through what have been two very challenging years and how creating artwork has been a way to explore and cope with the things going on around them.

“The Inspired by BAS9 Young Artist Showcase is a space for young people to be recognised for their creative skills and the energy they have dedicated to making unique and exciting contemporary artwork.”

Students from Colton Hills Community School exhibited a range of their artwork at the showcase.

Hannah Willets, teacher of Art at Colton Hills, said: “It is such a valuable experience for our students to have their work displayed publicly. It builds their confidence by giving them the opportunity to showcase their creativity and individual identity.”

Emma Shuttleworth, a Year 8 student at Colton Hills Community School, said: “I liked my work being showcased in an exhibition because it’s being a part of something that allows me to express myself. I also like this because when there is a theme, I get to see others' interpretations.”

Exhibiting schools included:

Aldersley High School

Arc School Old Arley

City of Wolverhampton College

Colton Hills Community School

Coppice Performing Arts School

Dawley Brook Primary

Dudley College

Holy family Catholic Primary School

Merstone school

Moreton School

Nunnery Wood High School

Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School

Pegasus Academy

Q3 Academy Langley

Sandwell College

Shepwell School

St Michaels’ C of E High School

Stow Heath Primary

Sutton Coldfield College

The Phoenix Collegiate

The Westminster School

Thorns Collegiate Academy

Wednesfield Academy

Willenhall E-Act Academy

Wolverhampton Grammar School 

A selection of the Inspired by BAS9 Young Artists work will be on display at the Wolverhampton Art Gallery ‘Making Space’ until 15th May.

To find out more about the Inspired by BAS9 Young Artists Showcase contact Becky Thompson at

British Art Show 9 is recognised as the most important and ambitious recurrent exhibition of contemporary art produced in the UK. Taking place every five years it brings the work of artists defining new directions in contemporary art to four UK cities.

For British Art Show 9 in Wolverhampton, the exhibition focused on how we live with and give voice to difference, showcasing 34 artists whose works investigate identity from an intersectional perspective. By exploring coexisting identities such as class, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality, these works will be presented in critical dialogue with Wolverhampton’s cultural history which has been shaped by the diverse populations that came to work and live there during the post-war period.

The programme was developed to engage young people, inspire teachers and build upon an already vibrant arts community. Over 2000 young people and 53 schools and colleges have worked with creative teachers and local artists to explore BAS9 and contemporary art through the learning programme. The Inspired by British Art Show 9 Arts Connect Learning Programme is the first phase of exciting place-based arts and cultural programmes bringing together young people, creative educators, artists and arts organisations.

Anyone looking to study at the University of Wolverhampton should register for one of our forthcoming Open Days.


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