“A Series of Immersive Installations and Experiences.”

Lead Curator Violet M. McClean
Curator William Hernandez Abreu
Assistant Curator Millie Lake

Exhibition Designed by Rasa Vaineikyte and Thaires Vicentini

28 September-30 November 2019

Across AUB Campus Galleries, Library, South House, University House, CRAB Drawing Studio Courtyard.

Exhibition overview

Suddenly Last Summer 2019 is a curated selection of work from AUB’s 2019 graduating cohort. Showcasing over 500 artists, designers and makers, this is the biggest annual exhibition that TheGallery stages each year. This summer we celebrate the achievements of just over 1,300 students who will embark on their professional careers and further studies.

This year Suddenly Last Summer focuses on the ideas and concepts behind the work creating aesthetic experiences within an installation context.  The exhibition features a wide selection of work from AUB’s Preparation for Higher Education (Foundation Diploma), BA (Hons) Degree courses and Masters Degree courses. Committed to the disciplines of art, design, media and performance, the graduate artists have come together in one show to embrace the creative spirit that characterises life at the Arts University Bournemouth.

Suddenly Last Summer 2019’s theme is dedicated to creating a series of immersive installations and experiences. Rather than a display of separate, individual artworks the viewer is taken on a journey as they travel from course to course, with the exhibition flowing as a unified experience. As Suddenly Last Summer is inclusive of the whole campus, TheGallery has embraced the concepts of space to showcase AUB as a diverse installation of places, people and their skills. 

Each exhibition space has been defined and manipulated to create not only an aesthetic experience, but a conceptual experience, interacting with the site to define new spaces within TheGallery and AUB campus. By transforming these spaces, the objects within the installations have taken on new meanings, conjuring up new contexts and interpretations when they are viewed as one. With the space and its design being integral to how the viewer experiences the artwork, the whole meaning of each piece is heightened and the viewer has a much more involved role.

Defying stereotypical assumptions of what an exhibition should look like, Suddenly Last Summer has rejected the image of plain white walls in favour of activating the space through colour and design. The viewer becomes a participant, with their experience becoming a work of art in its own right. Incorporating costume, fashion, fine art, design, illustration, graphics, film, video, recorded performance, sound, objects and architectural space, Suddenly Last Summer explores the idea of constructed realities, bringing the artwork and space within which it exists, alive. 

This year’s exhibition is TheGallery’s most ambitious to date with over 500 students being included. The whole campus has been re-defined, immersing the viewer in an overwhelming and exciting environment. The Main Gallery has been turned into a display of colour and shapes with its very own catwalk and vast array of course-specific installations, while the Library has been brought to life with the addition of a number of miniature theatre sets. South House, University House and the Northwest Gallery have all been converted into site-specific exhibitions, with the curators responding to and re-shaping the pre-existing spaces. 

The context/concept behind the art installation

Installation artworks (also sometimes described as environments) often occupy an entire room or gallery space that the spectator has to walk through in order to engage fully with the artwork. (From Installation Art by Tate.)

Installation art often reflects and responds to the world we live in, thereby creating an interesting fusion of art and life. We must remember that the elements in the installation space are not art objects in themselves; the participant’s experience is the work of art.

Since the 1960s, a new wave of artists have been transforming space into physical environments that defy realistic representation of recognizable environments. The physical space that these installation artworks inhabit often carries as much significance as the individual art object itself. The installation artist takes into account the viewer’s entire sensory experience. 

Traditional artists were abandoning the sterile white walls and rectangular pedestals of the gallery in favour of an activation of the space between the walls, obscuring the line between the art object and its context, thus utilizing the space the work inhabits to enhance meaning

The objects in an installation art space take on new meaning and the context of the elements defines the interpretation of the piece. Installation art often reflects and responds to the world we live in, thereby creating an interesting fusion of art and life. We must remember that the elements in the installation space are not art objects in themselves; the participant’s experience is the work of art. Ronald J. Onorato in the book, Blurring the Boundaries: Installation Art 1969-1996, states, “The aesthetic power  of  installation  art  does  not  reside  in  a  singular,  commodified  object  but  in  an ability  to  become,  rather  than  merely  represent,  the  continuum  of  real  experience  by responding to specific situations.”

Not surprisingly, by the 1970s we began to see installation artworks that seek to explore and satisfy the human desire to experience constructed realities.  Artists incorporated film, video, performance, sound, objects, and architectural space to create complex aesthetic statements.

(From The Immersive Artistic Experience and the Exploitation of Space by Bonnie Mitchell)


The Suddenly Last Summer 2019 exhibition features a wide selection of work from from across our Foundation Diploma in Art and DesignBA (Hons) Degree courses and Masters Degree courses.

Together in one major exhibition. It celebrates a creative community of original thinkers and inventive makers where boundaries are pushed and creative alliances formed. We passionately believe in innovative opportunities that come from collaboration between different art forms in our Creative Community.

We offer a range of full-time study within the areas of the Suddenly Last Summer 2019 featured courses, as well as Postgraduate Research degrees to help turn creativity into careers.


Violet McClean – Lead Curator

With over 20 years of experience in the arts sector Violet has worked with national and international collections, contemporary galleries and museums.

She is the Senior Gallery Officer at TheGallery, Arts University Bournemouth.

Violet has worked closely with AUB to establish TheGallery as a leading University Gallery with an international reputation and extensive programme of exhibitions, events and publications.

In 2010 she was awarded a Master’s Degree in Museum and Galleries Studies in Curating, from University of Southampton. Violet’s research specialism is contemporary Curatorship’s relationship to classical museum Curating, focusing on the approaches of Alfred H. Barr, Jr founding director of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

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William Hernandez Abreu – Curator

William Hernandez Abreu has over 20 years of experience of working in performing arts; with a focus on dance, music and set design/making.

William is a music designer, curator and exhibition designer.  He is currently the technician at TheGallery, Arts University Bournemouth. William is an active member of TheGallery Group and contributes to establish TheGallery as a leading university gallery with an international programme of exhibitions and events.

William Co–Curated Suddenly Last Summer 2018, with fellow Curator Violet M. McClean. He also designed and choreographed the dance for the Ancient Art of Rituals event that was a part of the Black Mirror: Magic in Art exhibition and documentary project.  He produced the music and the concept for the Dazzle & The Art of Defence performance this year. Will was also the curator of the recent Hayward Touring Exhibition of Pop-Art pioneer Eduardo Paolozzi: General F.U.N.

William is responsible for the co-ordination, production, exhibition design and the technical delivery of TheGallery’s annual programme of exhibitions and events, and the care of the AUB and Arts Council collections. He is the lead Technician on TheGallery’s Touring Exhibitions Programme.

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Millie Lake – Assistant Curator

Millie Lake has been studying at the university since 2015.

First completing her Foundation Diploma on AUB’s Preparation for Higher Education course, and graduated this year from AUB’s BA (Hons) Fine Art degree with First Class Honours.

It was during her Foundation year that Millie first got involved with TheGallery after curating a Fine Art Pathway exhibition alongside TheGallery’s Curator and Lead Technician, William Hernandez Abreu. Following the success of this exhibition, Millie completed a work placement with TheGallery once a week during the first and second year of her degree, and also acted as a front of house ambassador during gallery events.

Throughout her Fine Art degree, Millie’s own practice was concerned with the everyday and how mundane or ordinary situations can be brought into a new setting and artificially simulated. Millie often manipulated the exhibition site so that her art acted as an intervention within the space, playing with what the viewer expects from both a gallery setting in general and the specific institution in which the exhibition exists. The finished pieces are often research and labour intensive but are finished to appear simplistic to the viewer, creating a relationship where only viewers who take the time to investigate further get rewarded with understanding the concept of the work and the subtle sense of humour that comes with it.

Working in particular with installation art, Millie was able to use her own practical experience and research knowledge to curate the exhibitions within the Library and University House for Suddenly Last Summer 2019.



Sarah Gomes Munro 2019

This year TheGallery has commissioned Sarah Gomes Munro, BA (Hons) Illustration 2019 graduate, to create our exhibition branding which is an installation of people showing our diverse community. Read more

Sam Prentice 2019

Sam, BA (Hons) graduate 2019, has been commissioned to design the BA (Hons) Fashion installation in the Main Gallery. Read more

Annabel Burkill 2018

In 2018 TheGallery commissioned Annabel Burkill, BA (Hons) Illustration 2018 graduate, to design the flamingo wallpaper for BA (Hons) photography. This image became the iconic symbol of Suddenly Last Summer 2018 and our 20th anniversary event. Read more

Joseph Warin 2016 and 2017

Jo has been working for TheGallery on many projects since graduating from the Visual Communication BA (Hons) course including the main designs for Suddenly Last Summer 2016 and 2017. Read more

Gallery Graduate Programme


The role of Assistant Curator is a new opening that has become available to recent graduates that have done work placements in TheGallery throughout their time at the Arts University Bournemouth.

For Suddenly Last Summer 2019, Millie has been tasked with planning, curating and project managing the Library and University House. Keeping with the exhibition’s theme of immersive installations and experiences, the Library has been transformed into a series of theatrical installations.

“Being given the role of Assistant Curator was a very exciting opportunity for me. Although I took part in a work placement with TheGallery throughout my time at AUB, this extra responsibility really encouraged me to step up my game. The run up to Suddenly Last Summer 2019 has definitely been intense so as Assistant Curator I have been put through what could best be described as a “Curating Boot Camp”. I am looking to relocate to London so this role has been perfect in helping me transfer skills from my Fine Art degree into a professional environment.

Without my previous experience in TheGallery I wouldn’t have been offered this role, so I can’t stress enough how giving up some of your time can really reap the benefits. Knowing me since 2014 when I was studying for my Foundation Diploma at AUB, Violet has seen me progress and spotted my potential. I have been busy and involved ever since I stepped foot in the office, and despite being new to the team and the role everyone has made it clear that they believe in me. TheGallery team appreciate that I am fresh out of university so this graduate programme has also acted as an on the job mentoring programme, encouraging me to be independent and make my own curatorial decisions while passing on their experience and knowledge to me. 

Working with the costumes was really interesting as it is so different to the work I was used to seeing during my Fine Art degree. However, with an interest in installation myself I have had great fun having such a large role in this year’s exhibition. Curating two site-specific exhibitions within AUB meant I had to work around certain limitations, such as space and access regulations, while still creating an exciting and immersive experience for the viewers. In the Library I wanted to play on the idea that books enhance and rely upon imagination, especially in the context of AUB where the Library is used to inspire students in their creative pursuits. I knew I wanted to build a series of miniature theatre sets to bring the costumes to life so I was able to visit the university’s prop store to pick out objects to dress the Library.

Throughout my time working here I have realised that there is a lot more to curating that occurs behind the scenes. I had the responsibility of writing all text for the Library and University House to help contextualise the artwork and exhibition, and wrote text to be used for the marketing of Suddenly Last Summer 2019. I have built strong relationships with staff members of all levels from all over the university while also project managing a team of technicians. Violet has made sure that the staff treat me as an equal rather than as an ex-student, and most of all she has shown me how AUB exists as one creative community, with Suddenly Last Summer 2019 being a way of celebrating students and their skills from all AUB courses” 

Related stories and past exhibitions

TheGallery CELEBRATES 20 YEARS – 2018.

In 2018 we celebrated the achievements of TheGallery and looked back on the last 20 years with a special event for all staff and students at AUB, alumni, regular visitors and everyone in-between. Suddenly Last Summer 2018 was the showcase for our 20 year event.

Now an internationally renowned and Award Winning exhibition space, TheGallery was the vision of AUB’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stuart Bartholomew, CBE.

After joining AUB in 1997, he set out to establish a gallery at the university to display exhibitions featuring the work of national and international artists.

TheGallery programme was established in 1998 with the appointment of Violet M McClean as a part-time Exhibitions Officer, AUB alumnus and BA (Hons) Creative Events Management graduate.  She is now responsible for managing and curating TheGallery and all its related projects.

Read more.


‘Cabinets of Curiosity’ within a Contemporary Context

Curated by Violet M. McClean

Co-Curated by William Hernandez Abreu

Exhibition Designed by David Lund and Thaires Vicentini

3 September-3 November 2018

Across AUB Campus Galleries

Suddenly Last Summer 2018, focused on creating collections within one major exhibition that had been modelled on and considered within the museumology approach that contextualises the theory and practice of each course.

The backdrop for the exhibits in our Main Gallery was an Exhibition Wall, that was designed by Zaha Hadid Design and built by Ink Associates. The wall was commissioned and designed for the exhibition “Zaha Hadid Architects: Evolution”, which took place in TheGallery in February 2018, as part of their International Programme of Exhibitions. It was a collaborative project with the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, AUB, and Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA).

Read more.


Curated by Violet M McClean

Exhibition Designed by William Hernandez Abreu and David Lund

4 September-30 November 2017

Suddenly Last Summer 2017 was a curated selection of work from our 2017 graduating cohort, showcasing over 60 artists, designers and makers.

Suddenly Last Summer 2017 saw a more curatorial approach than in previous years. The Curator commissioned Exhibition Designers to further develop this approach. The exhibition was a mixture of Design Museum, Historical Museum and White Cube principles and concepts which were applied throughout the Galleries.

Read more.


Curated by Violet M McClean 

5 September-19 October 2016

Suddenly Last Summer 2016 was a selection of work from our 2016 graduating cohort, showcasing over 60 artists, designers and makers. The exhibition was an edited version of AUB Summer Shows. The Courses Leaders from each course selected three students from each of their courses to represent them. Violet M. McClean curated the selected works, bringing AUB’s creative community together in one exhibition.

Read more.


Arts University Bournemouth was first established in 1885 as a specialist art institution, and is now a leading university, offering high quality specialist education in art, design, media and performance across the creative industries.

The University remains passionate about its subjects and continues to encourage curiosity, risk-taking and adventure in exploring and pushing boundaries of subject knowledge.


AUB is a campus of diversity, excitement and inspiration; a showcase of learning in an environment dedicated to the arts. The University places great importance on student involvement, therefore, we offer many short courses in a variety of art mediums and activities that can provide exciting opportunities within our creative community.

A lot goes on within our creative community, be sure to keep up to date with the latest news.

Book an Open Day

Spend a day in our creativity community.

Our Open Days are the best way to explore our campus and get a feel for life at AUB. You’ll be able to see student work and talk to students and lecturers, too.

Gold TEF rating

We’ve been awarded the highest rating of Gold by the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

The award recognises excellence in teaching and has stated that we deliver consistently outstanding teaching, academic support and outcomes for its students.

97% Graduate employment rate

According to results released by Times Higher Education we’re the number one, UK specialist university for employability.

We’ve achieved a 97% graduate employment rate according to the results released by the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education survey.


The Foundation Studies Programme achieved an “Outstanding” rating in its 2018 Ofsted inspection.

Read the full story here.


There’s more than one route into studying in our creative community.

From Foundation to BA and MA courses and Postgraduate Research degrees – you’ll find a path to suit you. Take a look at our courses and find your creative degree.


For aspiring and developing young artists aged between 9-18, our courses are made for exploring creativity outside of the school environment. Guided by our inspiring and experienced tutors, these classes range from a variety of mediums including modelmaking and animation.


We have over 50 courses in 19 subjects on out Evening and Saturday Courses. Whether it’s about enhancing your creativity, mastering a new skill or indulging in a subject you have a passion for, discover what our specialist campus has to offer from experts and collaborations with a diverse mixture of students.


We offer a diverse programme of activities for schools and colleges.

This gives young people the unique opportunity to engage in workshops with TheGallery and off-campus at schools. Find out more.