Art students from Sunderland College have been making waves at a local beach by taking part in a sustainability project about global climate issues.
The new, first-year students who only started their Level 3 Art and Design course at the college this September, have been creating artwork from unwanted waste and recycled materials to highlight climate change and waste around coastal areas.
Five art installations were set up on Roker Beach for the public to see and the students recorded the event by taking photos. The students dismantled their installations the same day and created QR tags to display on the railings near the beach so the public could still view their artistic creations.
16-year-old Lily Howarth from Sunderland, who is studying Level 3 Art and Design at Sunderland College, said:
“Our art project was based on climate change and how we could spread awareness. As a group of three, we decided to focus on how humans are directly affecting our planet through what we do daily, i.e. the waste we produce, which is deposited into our own environment.
“I enjoyed how challenging the project was – creating a group project with new people was difficult at times, we didn’t know each other but I felt like I was pushing myself every day and it was nice discovering everyone’s strengths and how I can apply my strengths towards something greater than just me.”
Another art and design student, Ellie Bainbridge, 16 from Sunderland, said:
“In our group we decided to create a sculpture of a turtle made from recycled materials. This was with the intent of expressing the dangers of plastic pollution against our wildlife which contributes a lot to climate change.
“We chose this idea as we believed it showed the most emotional value around the true dangers of climate change. My favourite part of this project was creating the fins for the turtle sculpture. For this we used cardboard and layered it up to the correct shape, finally adding buttons and recycled bottle caps on top to create the pattern of the fins.
“This project allowed me to learn the hazards of climate change whilst building upon my team working skills. Additionally, I learned more important aspects of climate change and how art can be used to express this topic and its importance. I believe that climate change is an important topic that must be brought to light because if we don’t try reducing the contributions towards it now then there will be no way of reversing the effects in the future.”
Art Lecturer, Jackie McDonagh, said:
“The project-based learning for our first year Level 3 art students was linked to the current issues with climate and reflective of the recent UN Climate Change Conference (COP26). We gave the students the direct question, how can climate change be brought to public attention through art. The students worked together throughout the project to develop their skills in communication, teamwork and problem solving.
“The students used unwanted and recycled materials, which showed great commitment to the theme. They are very interested in the theme of climate change and have demonstrated their passion through their pieces. The students only had three weeks to complete this project and the results were excellent. I’m extremely proud of them.”
Judith Quinn, Vice Principal (Curriculum & Achievement) at Sunderland College, added:
“Project-based learning is a teaching and learning approach that provides our students with excellent opportunities to tackle real-life issues. They develop the holistic skills, knowledge and behaviours required for their future education, life and careers, which further supports our career-focused curriculum.”
The college is also involved in the Ford Next Generation Learning programme in partnership with North East LEP and The Edge Foundation. This pioneering project benefits student communities and local economies through embedding community connected and real-life learning. Students can see the relevance of their teaching, how to apply their knowledge in the real world and are able to make informed decisions about their progression.
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