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How this collaborative exhibition sees students redefine ancient myth

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Published on 17 May 2024

The Arachne Project
The Arachne Project

Students from the University of Sunderland have taken part in a collaborative painting project housed at the Customs House, South Shields.

The Arachne project saw students from different disciplines, including Fine Art, Photography and Digital media, come together to contribute towards the exhibition that aims to bring together artists from around the region.

Building off the success of other exhibitions ‘Glaucus & Scylla’ (2022) and ‘Prometheus’ (2023), the project aims to use traditional subjects to discuss contemporary issues.

Llana Abraham, who studies BA (Hons) Fine Art and collaborated on the project, said: "The Arachne Collaborative Project was an eye-opening experience.

“The opportunity to work with other practicing artists wasn't only refreshing, but inspiring, and it has definitely helped me broaden my views on collaborative creativity and professionalism."

Chloe Nesbitt, a Fine Art student who was also part of the project, said: “It was a fantastic experience. I was able to work with and meet other young artists and learned so many new skills from others and the project.

“It has really opened up my practice to collaborative engagement and scaling my work much bigger than I would usually have done before.”

The myth centers on the competition between the mortal woman Arachne who exhibited incredible artistic skill and Minerva, goddess of the arts, wisdom and strategy.

Dr Suzy O’Hara, lecturer in Digital Arts and Enterprise at the University of Sunderland, said: “We’re delighted to work with the gallery team at the Customs House in South Shields on the Arachne collaborative painting project.

“The project, which is embedded in our Collaborative Creativity module, brought both Fine Art and Photography and Digital Media students together with students from Newcastle University and the wider arts community of South Tyneside.

“Over the week, they developed their critical reflection skills and confidence, built their professional networks within our regional Arts and Cultural sector, and came away enthusiastic to establish their artistic career post-graduation.”

The exhibition strives to bring together artists to engage with painting and sculpture in different ways through collaboration.

Rory Williams, freelance curator at The Customs House, said: “As an alumnus of Sunderland, working with students from the University of Sunderland has been highly rewarding.

“Being able to work alongside them within the gallery and introduce them to a wider network of their artistic peers has allowed me front row seats to how the next generation of artists is developing their practices.”

If you are interested in studying Fine Art at the University of Sunderland, find out more here: https://www.sunderland.ac.uk/study/art-design/undergraduate-fine-art/