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Turning up the heat: University Degree Shows 2019 prove red hot

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Published on 14 June 2019

University Degree Shows 2019
University Degree Shows 2019

An array of talent from students set to make their name in the art world has gone on display as part of the University of Sunderland’s final year Degree Shows.

From giant wall sculptures to images of a remote earthquake–hit Italian village; photographs that break gender boundaries to WW2-inspired fashion - the city’s galleries are set to be overtaken by the young artists of the future.

For the first time, Sunderland’s Museum and Winter Gardens will house some of the collections, along with university buildings across the city.

Professor Kevin Petrie, Head of the School of Art and Design at the University of Sunderland, said: “There’s always a great buzz in the studios at this time of year as our students prepare for their final exhibitions.

“This year I’m really excited that our Design students will be showing their graphic design, illustration, animation, games art and fashion design in Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens for the first time.

“It’s also fitting that they follow Leonardo da Vinci – one of the most important creatives in history – whose drawings were recently seen in the same space.  

“We also have Fine Art and Photography, Video and Digital Imaging showing in our city centre Priestman Building and Glass and Ceramics and Art and Design Foundation in National Glass Centre. 

“So our art and design degree shows, across three venues, will be perhaps the biggest and most diverse exhibitions of creativity in the city this year.”

 Among those exhibiting their work at this year’s shows are:


Antonis Koutouzis with his artwork

Antonis Koutouzis, 37. Glass and Ceramics

Mass shootings of recent years was the inspiration behind artist Antonis’s work.

Having visited America last year, the Greek-born sculptor was shocked at how easy it was to buy a gun.

He said: “The spiral construction of the piece is supposed to mimic the rifling of a bullet itself.

“The piece is less interested in the repercussions of these mass shootings and more interested in the reasons why they happen in the first place.

“I hope this work celebrates the world I would like to live in by revealing its darker side, its inadequacies.”

Antonis is now hoping to go on and study a MA at the University. He said: “Afterwards, I would be happy to move wherever the work takes me.”  


Jessica Nichol with her artwork

Jessica Nichol, 19.

Foundation Diploma in Art and Design.

Digitally-inspired Jessica Nichol wanted her work to reflect the world in which we live - and the place of humans in it.

The former Sacred Heart Catholic High School pupil, from Newcastle, said: “I visited the ‘Digital Citizen - The Precarious Subject’ exhibition at Baltic in Gateshead.

“It really made me think about our position in the digital world in which we all now live.”

“The internet was developed by humans and things often go wrong which is very much a metaphor for our society."  

Thanks to her grounding at the University, Jessica will be heading to Camberwell College of Arts in London this September.

She said: “This past year has really given me the chance to develop my art, it’s been critical in my journey.

“The tutors have really given me the opportunity to explore my work at my own pace.”  

Aaisha Ali with her artwork

Aaisha Ali, 22. Glass and Ceramics

Aaisha’s reconnection with her religion helped inspire her Degree Show work.

The student, from Fenham in Newcastle, said: “Back in Pakistan, generations of my family were known as kumars – or potters.

I wanted to bring that back and it is reflected in the Islamic, geometric patterns in the work.

“I like to work with twists and curves and this particular piece took about six weeks to make in total.”

Aaisha now hopes to open her own studio to display her future work.

She added: “My experience at the University has been amazing, it has been the best three years of my life.”


Sarah Whitelaw with her final project

Sarah Whitelaw, 23. Fashion Design and Promotion

Sarah’s final project was inspired by her grandfather who was a soldier in WW2.

He had worked alongside Army intelligence in Egypt and at one point even met Gandhi.

His archive pictures of Egyptian archaeology, along with images of his fellow soldiers in uniform gave Sarah the inspiration for her work.

Sarah said: “The pictures in my grandfather’s research document were the foundations from which I built all of this up.

“I’m hoping to go on and build up my own brand. The past three years at Sunderland have been amazing. I have loved every minute.”

From ideas about military styling, to desert colour palettes and even the colour red as seen in commemorative works depicting the bloodshed, Sarah has produced a range of ladies wear designs which reflect military and utility trends which are updated and presented as a part of her new brand, Miller & Whitelaw.  

Andrew Parkin with his artwork

Andrew Parkin, 57. Fine Art

Mature student Andrew built his final year work around the Armed Forces and examined the issue of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Andrew, from Seaburn, has created a series of artworks, sculptures and 3D images to complete his Degree Show piece. 

Originally from Castletown in Sunderland, the 57-year-old had been an amateur boxer in his teenage years, before taking up a trade as a bricklayer.

The dad-of-three, who is married to June, 60, said: “Bringing all this together has been hard work and I’m now coming to the end of four years at the University.”  



Degree Shows 2019: Where and when to see them

Show: Animation and Games Art, Game and App Design, Graphic Design, Illustration and Design, Fashion Design and Promotion

Location: Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens

Open to the public: Saturday 15 June to Sunday 7 July  


Show: Photography, Video and Digital Imaging

Location: Priestman Gallery, Showcase and selected rooms

Open to the public: Saturday 15 June to Friday 21 June  


Show: Fine Art  

Location: Priestman Studios

Open to the public: Saturday 15 June to Friday 21 June


Show: Glass and Ceramics

Location: National Glass Centre, Riverside Rooms

Open to the public: Saturday 15 June to Sunday 23 June  


Show: Foundation Art and Design

Location: National Glass Centre Studios

Open to public: From Saturday, June 15