Press release

Bronzed cigarette butts light up Masters Show

Published on 2 August 2019

New life is being breathed into discarded cigarette butts for one of Scotland’s most exciting celebrations of art

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Nick Brodie, a postgraduate student at the University of Dundee’s Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, says that he wants to give ‘greater significance’ to life’s everyday moments by casting in bronze abandoned filter tips found on Dundee’s streets. They form a part of his work which provides a multi-layered perspective of the city and its people through photography, sculpture and audio recording.

He is one of more than 80 postgraduate students showcasing their work at this year’s Masters Show, which runs from 16–25 August.

“Statistics only give a narrow representation of a place,” he said.

“That’s why I have collected materials from across the city to learn more about the daily life of the people that live here, before re-integrating these objects back into the place where I found them. I do this to give greater significance to small moments in daily life that are often overlooked or seen as unimportant.

“It is easy to consider a cigarette butt as a piece of rubbish but that item has been moulded by the mouth and hand of a person from Dundee and I wanted to elevate its importance. Bronzing them makes them a precious item and symbolises a moment of escapism and perhaps solitude that somebody has experienced by having that cigarette.”

Originally from Surrey, Nick moved to Dundee last year to undertake an MFA in Art and Humanities. As well as forming the basis for his Masters project, Nick’s work has allowed him to acquaint himself with the people and places that capture the essence of the city. One of the key components of his project are his candid shots of staff at the Halley Stevensons’ waxed cotton factory, with one of a worker on his break selected as the promotional image for this year’s Masters Show.

“I’ve taken photographs in places like London, New York and Montana, but Dundee is one of the friendliest places I have ever worked in,” he added.

“Each city or place has its own standards of privacy and personal space and you have to adapt when taking street photography. In Dundee, I made the decision to ask for each person’s permission to use their image for my work. This has been one of the most rewarding parts of my artwork, meeting some great characters and hearing their stories.”


Press Office, University of Dundee
Story category Student work/achievement