Published on 20 September 2023
At 52-years-old Su Devine came to study her passion later in life, graduating from the University of Sunderland with a degree in Fine Art in 2021.
Mental health is very much a central theme of Su’s work. After being diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following a work-related incident in 2017, Su didn’t leave the house for many months.
Fast forward six years, and not only is Su about to graduate from the University a second time with a Masters in Visual Practice – but she has also landed her dream role as gallery co-ordinator at Breeze Creatives Moving Gallery in Sunderland.
Su is responsible for co-ordinating local artists and organising exhibitions within the gallery space. She also uses the gallery’s Graduate Studio Spaces and will be continuing her artist practice there.
Su, from Whitley Bay, said: “I would not be able to do any of this if it had not been for the University of Sunderland and their amazing staff.
“They have supported me throughout my time here, through my BA and then my MA. The staff are understanding of all students but, for me, the support and encouragement has got me where I am today. It is not only the lecturers but also the technicians.
“I have gone from being afraid to leave the house to now co-ordinating a gallery and it’s the University who have made this journey possible.”
This new chapter in Su’s life has been the inspiration for her latest exhibition, New Beginnings, which opens to the public on Saturday 23 September 2023 at the University of Sunderland’s Priestman Building on City campus.
Speaking about the exhibition, Su said: “I have used broken branches and doll heads to represent old or past traumas. These are planted upwards to show how mother nature always finds a way and that out of adversity new and better things can grow.
“For the centre of the installation I made a huge metal tree. Hanging from the branches are small porcelain heads that I have sculpted to show the many emotions you often have to go through to finally be able to move on from trauma.”
New Beginnings is being exhibited as part of the University’s annual MA Art and Design Degree Shows. This provides students with the opportunity to exhibit their work in a major public exhibition and is a culmination of the hard work and dedication they have put into the final year of their course. It is also a celebration of students’ creativity and the beginning of an exciting new journey as a creative professional.
Professor Kevin Petrie, Head of the School of Art and Design at the University of Sunderland, said: “It’s wonderful to see the diversity of creative approaches that Sunderland Masters students have taken to advance their practice and push the boundaries of creativity.”
When and where can I see the MA Art and Design Degree Shows?
Students who have studied the University’s MA Visual Practice with Fine Art and Photography pathways will showcase their work in the University’s Priestman Building, City campus, from 23 September – 1 October (10am-5pm daily). These shows will be situated in galleries and studio spaces around the building.
The National Glass Centre is home to University’s prestigious Glass and Ceramics department. MA Visual Practice students who follow the glass or the ceramics pathways will be showing their work in the Sunderland Creatives Gallery from 23 September – 1 October (10am-5pm daily).
MA Design students who follow the Fashion, Graphic Design, Illustration and Animation pathways will also show their work in the National Glass Centre. Their work will be available to view from 17 – 29 October (10am-5pm daily).