Graduate creates art wall at new Sunderland University cafe The Gateway

A graduate returned to her old stomping ground to brighten up Sunderland University’s newest cafe.

Monday, 2nd September 2019, 12:28 pm
Updated Wednesday, 11th September 2019, 3:43 pm
Artist Jessica Browne with some of her work on display at Sunderland University's The Gateway Picture: DAVID WOOD

A call went out to students and Jessica Browne, an artist from Sunderland,was chosen to design artwork for the Gateway, in Chester Road, which is open to the public as well as students.

Jessica, 23, graduated as a MA in Fine Art from the university last year, and is now studying for her PhD, also at Sunderland.

She says her work - 21 paintings that cover the wall of the new café - was inspired by the natural world, and her native North East.

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“I’m a self-employed artist, and loaning some of my work to the university seemed like a great opportunity to get some of my art seen,” says Jessica.

“Also, I’d just moved studios and I had way too many paintings, so it was nice to make a bit of space.

"The work is abstract, but inspired by botanicals and plants from the region.”

Jessica’s work is making a real splash in the region - as well as the work on display in the café, she is also one of a number of artists who have created surfboards for the exhibition, City by the Sea, on display at Sunderland’s Beam, the new development at the city’s former Vaux site.

She is also part of the Pop Up Collective who recently held an exhibition at the historic Mackie’s Corner in Sunderland city centre.

“I really like the idea of creating work for my home city," added Jessica.

I think you can have a sustainable career as an artist if you stay in the North East,” she explained.

Paula Bass, deputy director of estates and facilities at the university, said: “The new Gateway Café design presented a great opportunity to showcase work by our own very talented students.

"We are really grateful to Jess for loaning us her works, featuring botanicals, which complements the new café design perfectly.

“We will be changing the artworks on display in the Gateway Café on a regular basis and looking for other opportunities across both campuses to feature works by our students,” Paula revealed.