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Wish you’d been here? Turner Prize artist’s postcards celebrate life at Sussex

A new exhibition by Turner Prize-winning artist and University of Sussex alumnus Jeremy Deller celebrates the provocative and off-beat side of campus life in a series of postcards inspired by the University’s photo archives.

The postcards – featuring moments from the past 50 years – form part of Sussex Incidents, which opens to the public on the University campus on 23 April and runs until 18 May.

The exhibition, part of the University’s 50th anniversary celebrations, draws its inspiration from materials and photographs from the University’s Special Collections archives.

The exhibits include a recreation of a 1960s student common room and selected archive images of staff and student experiences, including posters, flyers and photographs reflecting on the Sussex reputation for student activism.

Other curios include an old hose-pipe, a student petition board and a bust of the University’s architect, Sir Basil Spence. Contemporary images donated by recent and current students bring the story up to date.

Jeremy is currently at the International Festival of the Visual Arts in Glasgow, where he is exhibiting a plastic rendering of Stonehenge. The piece will later be displayed in London during the Olympics. He says: “It was great to root around in the Sussex archives, finding some gems and oddities.”

The postcard series of 50 images, displayed in seaside-style postcard racks, will also be available around campus at various locations (Falmer Bar, East Slope, Falmer Common Room, the Meeting House and others) for everyone to view and to take away.

Jeremy, who studied at Sussex and is currently collaborating with his former tutor Professor David Alan Mellor on a major exhibition in London, is celebrated for work that includes the re-enactment of a violent clash between police and miners during the 1980s strike (The Battle of Orgreave) and the exhibiting of a bomb-blasted wreck of a car taken from Iraq (It Is What It Is).

Doctoral researcher Alice Compton has been working with Jeremy to create the exhibition, assisted by undergraduate art history students at the University.

Alice, who is investigating photography during times of austerity for her AHRC-funded doctorate, says: “Working with Jeremy on this project has been fascinating, particularly given his enthusiasm for the esoteric, eccentric aspects of folk culture. Sussex is a great case study, particularly as the archive's holdings weave memories of protest, eccentric happenings and bizarre events through everyday student life. 

Edward Palmer, a student in his second year of a degree in Art History and Film Studies, is one of the undergraduates assisting with the exhibition. Edward says: “It’s been interesting to see how an exhibition comes together, as it’s a less rigid process than I thought. I like Jeremy’s work, so it’s been good to work with him.”

University of Sussex Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Farthing says: “We are very proud to be collaborating with Jeremy as part of our 50th anniversary celebrations, which will help to build on the University's ongoing involvement with the contemporary visual arts and provide a platform for creative and visual arts at the University.”

Notes for Editors

Sussex Incidents opens in the University of Sussex Library Exhibition Space on Monday 23 April and runs until 18 May, 10.30am – 5.30pm Mon-Sat. Open to all.  Admission is free.  The exhibition space is in the University of Sussex library, which is building number 20 on the campus map. For details of how to get to campus see the university’s travel pages.

Jeremy Deller is an alumnus of Sussex whose eclectic catalogue of films, posters, photographs, curated collections, performance works and sound pieces have influenced contemporary art for the past 20 years. He was awarded the Turner Prize in 2004 and was the subject of a Hayward Gallery retrospective this year.

Jeremy is also co-curator with Professor David Alan Mellor on The Bruce Lacey Experience – an exhibition devoted to the life and work of the artist Bruce Lacey at the Camden Arts Festival. This exhibition will open on 7 July and run until 16 September.

Art History at Sussex: The Department of Art History at the University of Sussex was rated in the top 3 in the UK in the latest Research Assessment Exercise and is ranked 5th in the UK in The Times Good University Guide 2012 and 6th in The Complete University Guide 2011-12. Students benefit from a small, close-knit department that embraces a wide range of research interests and excellent connections with leading arts institutions.

The University of Sussex has been celebrating its 50th anniversary with events organised by the Development and Alumni Relations Office, including events for the Brighton Festival, Charleston Festival, the Royal Institution-hosted Sussex Conversations and alumni events around the world.

University of Sussex Press office contacts: Maggie Clune and Jacqui Bealing. Tel: 01273 678 888. Email:

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Last updated: Friday, 20 April 2012