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Students get involved in UK City of Culture 2021 bid

(left to right) Students Afsina Begum, Keaton Wilson, Josh Barrett, with John Green, retail liaison manager at the Bridges, Andrea Errington, graphics lecturer and student Merrin Hogg

Eye-catching designs celebrating Sunderland’s UK City of Culture 2021 bid are drawing attention from passers-by.

The impressive artworks, which showcase everything Wearside has to offer, are on display in the Bridges Shopping Centre.

Created by talented first year BTEC graphics students from Sunderland College, the project encapsulates the culture of the city and celebrates its heritage, local communities, famous landmarks and iconic events.

Among the designs featured in the display, there are images of Roker Lighthouse, Penshaw Monument, the Riverside Sculpture Trail, Sunderland Empire Theatre, Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, Holy Trinity Church, Wearmouth Bridge, Sunderland International Airshow and the city’s annual Pride parade.

The project was spearheaded by Sunderland College graphics lecturer Andrea Errington who wanted to promote the cultural elements of the city to the students and involve them in the historic bid.

She said: “I like the students to have live briefs so they have the opportunity to work within the community, and I thought the UK City of Culture bid would be an ideal scheme for us to support. When they first started this project, they didn’t know a great deal about all of the wonderful things Sunderland has to offer and after doing a little research they realised there is so much going on in the city.

“This has really opened their eyes to all of the culture on our doorstep and they have much more enthusiasm for what is happening. They now know about the exciting work going on at the Old Fire Station to transform it into a cultural destination and the amazing plans for the New Wear Crossing. The students are now keen to tell other young people the incredible plans for the future.”

The college project has the backing of Sunderland 2021, the team behind the city’s bid, and students have already met with a member of the team who talked to them in detail about the bid and how they can support it.

Rebecca Ball, director of Sunderland 2021, said that it was fantastic to see young people contributing to what she hopes will be a successful bid for the city.

She said: “Our bid to become the UK City of Culture 2021 has the next generation at its heart.  Taking part in this competition is about creating a city that our young people can be proud of, where they want to stay to live, work and play.

“It’s really important to us that young people from Sunderland have a stake in this bid, so we’re really delighted to see students from the college getting behind us in this way.  We have such talented young people in Sunderland, so showcasing their work while celebrating our City of Culture bid is a perfect display of the creative spirit that is driving our bid forward.”

Andrea added: “It is very important for the college and our students to be involved in supporting the bid. We all need to work together to promote the city and its vibrancy and culture. By taking part in this project, it has helped our students to feel part of the city, and they are now witnessing the positive impact their designs are having on the general public in the Bridges.”

The exhibition – a selection of the works created by the students – is located in the corridor next to the Brougham Street entrance of the shopping centre and has had a positive response by shoppers since it was installed.

John Green, retail liaison manager at the Bridges, said: “The quality of work we currently have on display from the students is outstanding – and certainly gives some professionals a run for their money! Arts and culture is so important to us here at the Bridges and if we can help display local talent, we will.

“The college does an incredible job of nurturing Sunderland’s budding artists and we’re only too happy to support. Sunderland 2021 has already helped inspire so many students to believe they can achieve a career in the arts and we hope this helps encourage more students to further their studies at Sunderland College.”

All of the 22 designs created by the students will be displayed on the noticeboards in the Bridges and they will also be featured in the college’s end of year exhibition, which opens on 29 June.

For more information about visual arts courses at Sunderland College, call 0191 5116000, email info@sunderlandcollege.ac.uk or click here.

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