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Surfing to success: University leads way in new city exhibit

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Published on 31 May 2019

University artists designed these boards
University artists designed these boards

Artists from the University of Sunderland have played a key role in a new city centre exhibition called City by the Sea.

The project has brings together University creatives, local and regional painters, and schools, to produce an exhibit which celebrates the opening of The Beam, the first new development on the Vaux site.

The artworks have been produced on surfboards which will be displayed on the site.

Academics and students from the University have contributed their talents to help produce five of the surfboards.

They are:


Kevin Petrie: Swimming Between The Piers At Roker

Professor Kevin Petrie is Head of the School of Art & Design at the University.

Known for work on glass and ceramics, Kevin is also passionate about drawing and painting.

He is also an open water swimmer which is a great inspiration for his paintings.

Kevin’s surf board design takes a detail from one of his paintings about swimming at Roker Beach with ‘Fausto Café Bathing Club’.

“I’m not a surfer, but I imagine some of the sights and feelings of surfing are similar to swimming. Swimming in open water gives you have a completely different, almost 360-degree, view of the world. This is because your view is constantly changing as you look down into the water, breath from side to side and also look ahead. I have tried to express this dynamic experience in my surfboard design.

"It’s also great to see students and friends of the School of Art & Design involved in this great project.”


Jessica Browne: We’ar Surfing

Painter and PhD candidate at University, Jessica experiments with the material properties of paint, combined with her interest in landscape painting. Jessica’s design playfully pushes the audience to rethink the familiar cityscape of Sunderland.

Jessica said: “My plan was to create a painting that referenced the town in a way that isn’t often done, using a bright and vibrant palette.

“I wanted to produce a painting of the town the way it should be viewed, and the way I see it.” 


Kathryn Robertson: All Is Not Lost

Kathryn currently studies Graphic Design at the University.

She said: “My surfboard design is an imagined cityscape of Sunderland with bits of the city both old and new alongside each other.

“This was part of my final major project at University which surrounds the theme of 'lost' in Sunderland, and aims to highlight what is gone and what remains.

“Included are things like The Grand Hotel and The Town Hall, both demolished in the early 1970's, as well as The Elephant Tea Rooms which still remains. This project also goes alongside a painted mural in The Priestman Building.”

Rosie Power: The Wear

University of Sunderland, Glass and Ceramics undergraduate and keen surfer, Rosie Power has created a surfboard design based on the River Wear. The hand drawn rippling lines have an op-art effect. The work cleverly invokes a sense of movement and explores the way in which the river and the sea affect the shape of the landscape.

Rosie said: “Rivers are central part to any city, that’s why the design of my surfboard is dictated by the shape of river Wear, rippling lines that start from its banks.”


Jo Howell: Street Furniture

Photographic artist Jo Howell drew on her expansive archive of images of her hometown, Sunderland, to create this commission. Jo mixes handmade and digital techniques, working drawing and printmaking into her photographs to create bold and playful artworks.

Jo is an alumni of the University