Students face up to challenge

Stephen Ferry, front, with his work "Behind the Mask" part of the exhibition of art work by students from local ESPA (Education and Services for People with Autism) colleges which is on at Sunderland Minster.  With him are fellow artists Richard Lawless, Kyle Stewart and Daniel Pratt.

Stephen Ferry, front, with his work "Behind the Mask" part of the exhibition of art work by students from local ESPA (Education and Services for People with Autism) colleges which is on at Sunderland Minster. With him are fellow artists Richard Lawless, Kyle Stewart and Daniel Pratt.

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SUNDERLAND Minster played host to a unique exhibition.

Talented young artists have been displaying their work as part of the Changing Faces event.

About 30 students from the ESPA College in Sunderland, which caters for young people aged 16 to 25 with autism, have been taking part.

The display, which involves a huge range of artwork, including sculptures, will be available for anyone to view until January 2.

Doreen Hardy, a creative art lecturer at the college in Ashbrooke, said: “We made the topic Changing Faces, so it was very open to the students’ own interpretations of what they wanted to do.

“There were various mediums used, such as charcoal and paint, some did sculptures and some used photography.”

Doreen said the students had been working on the project for a number of weeks and everyone was really impressed with the finished pieces, especially as some of the students only joined the college in September.

The lecturer said: “Art is very therapeutic for our students, it encourages creativity and also freedom of thought.”

All the students were asked to consider what sort of piece they wanted to create and carried out research on the topic before starting on their artwork.

Doreen said the young people were delighted when they finally saw their artwork on display in the minster.

She said: “It given them a huge sense of pride to see their work on show and because the exhibition is going to be on for a few weeks if gives their family and friends plenty of time to go and view the work they have been doing.”

Twitter: @SunEchoSchools

ESPA College, Education and Services for People with Autism, which has three day sites, one in Newcastle and two in Sunderland, as well as a residential site in Sunderland and one in Newcastle, provides education for young people between the ages of 16 and 25 with an autism spectrum disorder.

The college has been open since 1995 and currently provides programmes of study for more than 100 students.