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University of Sunderland artists show their support for besieged country with We Stand With Ukraine exhibition

Art students and staff at the city’s university have been using their creative talents to highlight the plight of Ukraine and to show their solidarity with the country’s citizens.

By Neil Fatkin
Wednesday, 13th April 2022, 11:28 am

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With Ukraine now facing an eighth week under Russian attack, thousands of people have died and the UN has said 10 million people have fled their homes since the start of the invasion.

Around 4.6 million of those who have left their homes have sought sanctuary in other European countries.

Moved by the harrowing images in newspapers and on the television, art students at the University of Sunderland wanted to show their support for Ukraine by creating a one off exhibition.

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The We Stand With Ukraine exhibit is currently on display at the University’s Priestman Gallery.

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One of the artists who helped organise the event is MA Fine Art student Natasha Kerr-Armstrong.

The 35-year-old said: “Myself and Ashlee Kennedy, another student on my course, had been watching with horror everything that was happening in Ukraine.

Artists Genevieve Justice, James Hutchinson, Ashlee Kennedy, Stuart Teears, Su Devine, Natalie Martin and Natasha Kerr-Armstrong at the new exhibition ‘We Stand With Ukraine’ at the University of Sunderland’s Priestman Building.

“We were just saying how utterly helpless we felt and how we had a real desire to do something, anything, to help.

“The module we are currently doing on our University programme is called ‘do it’, so we decided to do just that and create this exhibition.”

As well as creating a visual representation of the conflict, the paintings also look to capture the emotions being experienced

Natasha, who has a two-year-old son, added: “As a parent, seeing all these children being displaced is something I hoped I would never see in my lifetime, so we must do all we can to help.”

Artist Ashlee Kennedy with some examples of her work.

Natasha enlisted other artists and lecturers from the Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries who were also keen to be part of the project.

MA Fine Art programme leader James Hutchinson said: “This is an exhibition showcasing artwork to raise awareness, support and money for those affected by the invasion of Ukraine.

“Lots of artists, students and lecturers alike, made time in their busy schedule to bring this exhibition together with only just over a fortnight's notice.

MA Fine Art student Natasha Kerr-Armstrong with some of her work.

“We are immensely grateful for the generosity and solidarity shown by everyone across the Art Department of the university.”

For the latest news and information about the Ukraine invasion, click here for NationalWorld coverage.