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Cluster bomb crisis highlighted in University art show

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Published on 01 October 2021

Nat Quinn
Nat Quinn

A student’s artwork is proving a huge draw after highlighting the little-known crisis which threatens millions of civilians.

University of Sunderland Glass and Ceramics MA student, Nat Quinn was so moved by the plight of people living in Laos, that he based his Degree Show exhibit on their crisis.

Laos has the unfortunate title of being the most bombed country in history.

The US dropped 270 million cluster munitions on Laos during the Vietnam War between 1964 – 1973.

However, it is estimated that 80 million cluster bombs (UXO) did not detonate on impact, remaining a persistent threat to civilians to this day.

Nat, 38, who was born in Thailand but now lives in Newcastle, was driven to highlight the crisis in an exhibition piece which has been on show at Sunderland’s National Glass Centre.

The student’s work depicts the cluster bombs in the style of the French game Petanque – or boules – which they resemble.

Nat said: “It’s a popular game in Laos and children can often mistake the bombs for boules.

“It’s very labour intensive to find and remove the cluster bombs and, although work is underway to try to do this, it remains a problem which very few know about.”

Nat will donate 20% of any sales of his work to the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) who are working to help resolve the crisis.

The student has now set up Spire Pottery based at the North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC) in Sunderland where he runs ceramics’ workshops. He also teaches ceramics’ night-classes at Bede College in Sunderland.

Nat, who picked to do his MA  at the University due to the reputation of the glass and ceramics programme, said: “I plan to stay here in the area. I learned a lot during my course in Sunderland and I’m keen to do some work in the community.”

Professor Kevin Petrie, Head of the School of Art and Design at the University, said: “It’s wonderful to be able to view the students’ work in the ‘real world’ again. Despite the challenges over the last year these artists and designers have really stepped up and shown the key attributes of creatives - resilience, adaptability and problem solving – to create some really powerful work”.

Nat’s work will be on display at the national Glass Centre in Sunderland until Sunday.