Motif – New interactive art exhibition showcases the use of motifs over 15 years in design and culture

A decade and a half of research into the use of motifs in design and culture will culminate in a new exhibition at the Bonington Gallery.

A decade and a half of research into the use of motifs in design and culture will culminate in a new exhibition at the Bonington Gallery.

Led by Tim Rundle, principal lecturer in Fashion Communication and Promotion, in response to the exhibition, it will include a symposium, creative workshops, artists in residence and a collaborative research project with 1,100 students, all of which will investigate the dismissed semiotic shorthand of motif and its impact on aesthetic, consumer and design culture.

Named Motif, the exhibition will outline alternative techniques which are designed to reconfigure creative thinking, offer analytical routes that lead to original thinking and give designers a competitive advantage in the ever-changing aesthetic landscape.

The work presents an innovative analytical platform, comprehensive database and prediction format. This new creative perspective aims to inspire individuals and teams to identify new methodologies, effectively filtering trend information in a manner that better reflects contemporary working practices.

Its content provides key insights and visual inspiration that will hope to directly influence creative process, providing a recalibrated set of tools and approaches to capturing originality and finding ‘newness’.

Mr Rundle said: “Motifs have become the cultural hieroglyphics of our times, identifying a set of design semiotics that chart shifts in social identity and consumer behaviour.

“As the new cryptological visual shorthand, motifs have become a dominant form of communication, from tote to tattoo, replacing text with emoji, logo with image, city name with icon etc.

“Adopted as both badges of belonging and icons of individuality, motifs can be understood as markers of creative conformity or aesthetic innovation.

“After 30 years of aggressive shifts in design, our relationship to retail, consumption, personal and lifestyle narratives are unrecognisable. One of the key markers of these global changes is our adoption of motifs.

“Join us in exploring a 15-year history of the application and appropriation of motif across a wide range of design cultures, and play a part in reinterpreting the future relationship between image and message.”

The exhibition will take place from 29 November to 1 February at the gallery in Shakespeare Street, Nottingham city centre. It is open to the general public and admission is free.

The Motif Tsunami Symposium is ideal for creatives from any area of design and market level. Based on the research by Mr Rundle, it will provide participants with a set of new tools to influence approaches to the application of image in product and brand.

For more details, visit boningtongallery.co.uk.

  • Notes for editors

    * Press enquiries please contact Emily Oakden, Communications Executive, on telephone +44 (0)115 848 5376, or via email, or Chris Birkle, PR Manager, on telephone +44 (0)115 848 2310 or via email

    About Nottingham Trent University

    Nottingham Trent University (NTU) was named University of the Year 2019 in the Guardian University Awards. The award was based on performance and improvement in the Guardian University Guide, retention of students from low-participation areas and attainment of BME students. NTU was also the Times Higher Education University of the Year 2017, and The Times and Sunday Times Modern University of the Year 2018. These awards recognise NTU for its high levels of student satisfaction, its quality of teaching, its engagement with employers, and its overall student experience. The university has been rated Gold in the Government’s Teaching Excellence Framework – the highest ranking available.

    It is one of the largest UK universities. With nearly 32,000 students and more than 4,000 staff located across four campuses, the University contributes £900m to the UK economy every year. With an international student population of more than 3,000 from around 100 countries, the University prides itself on its global outlook. The university is passionate about creating opportunities and its extensive outreach programme is designed to enable NTU to be a vehicle for social mobility. NTU is among the UK’s top five recruiters of students from disadvantaged backgrounds. A total of 82% of its graduates go on to graduate entry employment or graduate entry education or training within six months of leaving. Student satisfaction is high: NTU achieved an 87% satisfaction score in the 2019 National Student Survey.

    NTU is also one of the UK’s most environmentally friendly universities, containing some of the sector’s most inspiring and efficient award-winning buildings.

    NTU is home to world-class research, and won The Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2015 – the highest national honour for a UK university. It recognised the University’s pioneering projects to improve weapons and explosives detection in luggage; enable safer production of powdered infant formula; and combat food fraud.

Motif – New interactive art exhibition showcases the use of motifs over 15 years in design and culture

Published on 26 November 2019
  • Category: Press office; School of Art & Design

Still need help?

+44 (0)115 941 8418