Safe exhibition space.



All persons who use the facilities and resources have a duty to take reasonable care to ensure that they do not endanger themselves or anyone else who may be affected by their acts or omissions. They must co-operate with the University or College on health and safety and not interfere or misuse anything provided for their health, safety and welfare.

The health and safety of students and their exhibitions is primarily the responsibility of the member of academic staff timetabled to be responsible for their teaching and learning or project work. To this end the member of academic staff should ensure in conjunction with the student owner of the exhibition that it meets the minimum standards and is inspected and tested in accordance with the requirements in the health and safety documents.

Full details of duties and responsibilities are normally in the University or College Health and Safety Policy. This should be available on request from student services or outlined in your college enrolling booklet.

Basic things to consider are:

Exhibits and displays must be secure in order to prevent them falling and injuring persons or falling and obstructing escape routes if stumbled into.

Where loads are suspended or involve the use of lifting equipment an inspection and test by Estate Planning Services is required as part of the commissioning of the exhibit. Where a structure is created and its integrity is by means of welds or other joints the failure of which could cause injury these must be inspected prior to commissioning by a suitably qualified person.

Cool and hot surfaces and sharp objects should be guarded (possibly by erection of a barrier) this is especially important to protect visually impaired persons and children.

Where stroboscopic lights are in use a sign to this effect must be prominently displayed at the entrance door.

Where lasers are in use HSE guidance ‘The Use of Lasers for Display Purposes’ must be followed.

Estate Planning Services must inspect exhibitions with moving parts such as robots or machines before commissioning. Contact your tutor to arrange this. When designing such exhibits you must prevent access to dangerous parts. Use the following hierarchy of preferred guarding methods in your design: fixed guard, fixed distance guard such as a barrier of sufficient height, interlocking guard, automatic guard, trip device, adjustable guard, self adjusting guard, two handed control device.

Exhibitions from which people may fall to the ground or into a tank (of water for example) must be guarded to prevent falls. Handrails are required on stairs and on platforms. On platforms and stairs with open sides they should consist of two robust guard rails, the top one being at least 1100mm above the surface from which it is possible to fall.

Exhibitions which involve entry into confined spaces such as a tank or into a space where there may be a lack of oxygen are prohibited unless designed after consultation with the Health and Safety Unit.

No modifications or interference with the fabric structure or finishes of any part of the building or its fittings shall be carried out by staff, students or contractors without first obtaining permission from Estate Planning Services.

Access to first aid must be such that if a person becomes ill or injured they can be given first aid within a reasonable time. A green and white first aid poster should be displayed to assist in locating the nearest available first aider.


Faulty wiring or appliances are dangerous and potentially lethal.

Wiring supplying socket outlets and the socket outlets themselves are only to be worked upon by staff or contractors who have the permission of Estate Planning Services. 

This does not of course prevent persons from plugging/unplugging or switching appliances on or off at the socket.

Electrical supplies to exhibitions must be capable of being switched off or unplugged during periods when a building is unattended.

Electrical appliances used in exhibitions, whether proprietary or self constructed must be tested for electrical safety and labelled accordingly before use.

Always fully unwind an extension cable when using it to supply appliances rated at 1000w or more, this is to avoid overheating.


In the UK buildings are compartmentalised to prevent the spread of fire and smoke. There are maximum travel distances to protected areas and the fabric of buildings is resistant to or protected from combustion.

The creation of a display comprising large amounts of paper, textiles or flimsy material particularly in circulation areas such as lobbies and corridors can cause fire to spread rapidly and negate the advantages of suitable wall and ceiling linings.

In exhibition spaces where there are no rooms opening onto the space or where all rooms opening onto the space have an alternative means of escape and do not need to pass through the exhibition space to escape the risk is lower. It is acceptable to display high risk items in such a space.

Where rooms open onto exhibition spaces, vision panels in the doors or an automatic fire detection and alarm system in the display area is required.

Risks are increased if the display or exhibition will be attended by a large number of people (>120), if alcohol is available or if a large number of people need to escape through the exhibition area. In such cases these guidelines may not reduce risk sufficiently. Please consult the Health and Safety Unit in such cases.

5.3 Escape from Exhibition Areas Where more than 60 persons will attend at any one time there must be more than one exit door. Exit doors must have a sign which is either self illuminated or illuminated by a nearby light. Exit signs or route signs must be visible from all points in the room. Where exhibition areas are large or form part of an escape route they may need emergency lighting to illuminate exit doors or routes. Corridors through exhibition areas should not normally be less than 800mm wide and where possible should not be convoluted.” (

If in any doubt contact you University or College health and safety advocate. Better to be safe than sorry.


Silkscreen Printing 

A screen is made of a piece of mesh stretched over a frame. A stencil is formed by blocking off parts of the screen in the negative image of the design to be printed; that is, the open spaces are where the ink will appear on the substrate.

Before printing occurs, the frame and screen must undergo the pre-press process, in which an emulsion is ‘scooped’ across the mesh and the ‘exposure unit’ burns away the unnecessary emulsion leaving behind a clean area in the mesh with the identical shape as the desired image. The surface to be printed (commonly referred to as a pallet) is coated with a wide ‘pallet tape’. This serves to protect the ‘pallet’ from any unwanted ink leaking through the screen and potentially staining the ‘pallet’ or transferring unwanted ink onto the next substrate. Next, the screen and frame are lined with a tape. The type of tape used in for this purpose often depends upon the ink that is to be printed onto the substrate. These aggressive tapes are generally used for UV and water-based inks due to the inks’ lower viscosities. The last process in the ‘pre-press’ is blocking out any unwanted ‘pin-holes’ in the emulsion. If these holes are left in the emulsion, the ink will continue through and leave unwanted marks. To block out these holes, materials such as tapes, speciality emulsions and ‘block-out pens’ may be used effectively.

The screen is placed atop a substrate. Ink is placed on top of the screen, and a floodbar is used to push the ink through the holes in the mesh. The operator begins with the fill bar at the rear of the screen and behind a reservoir of ink. The operator lifts the screen to prevent contact with the substrate and then using a slight amount of downward force pulls the fill bar to the front of the screen. This effectively fills the mesh openings with ink and moves the ink reservoir to the front of the screen. The operator then uses a squeegee (rubber blade) to move the mesh down to the substrate and pushes the squeegee to the rear of the screen. The ink that is in the mesh opening is pumped or squeezed by capillary action to the substrate in a controlled and prescribed amount, i.e. the wet ink deposit is proportional to the thickness of the mesh and or stencil. As the squeegee moves toward the rear of the screen the tension of the mesh pulls the mesh up away from the substrate (called snap-off) leaving the ink upon the substrate surface.



Meeting Hunt Emerson


Currently Hunt is a freelance comic book illustrator and often works for the Beano on the characters Little Plum and Ratz. He lives and works in Birmingham so he really is a local success story.


He has been acclaimed as one of the 75 European Masters of Cartooning of the 20th Century by the Centre Nationale de la Bande Dessinee et de l’Image, and has won many other international awards.

The Emerson graphic novels Lady Chatterley’s Lover, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Casanova’s Last Stand and other adaptations of classic novels and tales have been successfully sold in numerous countries, and translated into several different languages.

Hunt Emerson’s strips and illustrations are regularly seen in the pages of Fortean Times, a magazine of occult and unexplained phenomena. Also his pornographically humorous Firkin The Cat (written by Tym Manley) has appeared in hundreds of Fiesta magazines.

Hunt was inspired to become a cartoonist by seeing the comics arriving from Chicago, “they were sort of Hippy comics, but I loved the stories and character” (Emerson, 2015) Hunt practised and practices drawing and developing bio’s for characters. He came to Birmingham as a fine art student and found work at Birmingham Arts Lab and Polytechnic running a small printing machine.  “In printing I saw a way that I could link earning a living with doing what I wanted to do; draw comics.  I spent six years working at the Birmingham Arts Lab, with the printing press there, doing design, layout, darkroom, and machine operating on a shoestring in hair-raising circumstances. It taught me a lot about production deadlines and the need to make quick design decisions.”(From Emerson’s web site:

This lead to his first book ,Thunderdogs which had a unique twist at the time because it included 2D and 3D drawings. Followed by Calculus Cat and then City Mouth.

We asked Hunt for his top piece of advice for us about to start illustration at university. He smiles and says the key to being a comic book illustrator is to keep working. Take as many of the freelance job you can manage but don’t forget to develop your own style and work.

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