Matthew Neville

Food for thought: University of Sunderland art exhibition explores cost of living crisis

As energy bills and food prices continue to rise across the UK, an art student is using her creative talents to highlight the impact of the cost of living crisis as part of a University of Sunderland exhibition.

Laura Clark’s ‘Food for Thought’ installation features a pyramid of tinned food which she has relabelled with various statistics, such as “1 in 10 parents skip meals to afford food for their children” and “1 in 7 people were employed whilst they were using a foodbank”.

Laura, 18, from County Durham, hopes her project will inspire people to reflect on the seriousness of the cost of living crisis and be more empathetic to those who are struggling.

Visitors to the installation, which is being displayed as part of the University’s final year Degree Shows, can also take away a tin and any leftover will be donated to the foodbank at Bethany City Church in Sunderland.

Laura, who is studying a Foundation Diploma in Art Design and Media Practice at Sunderland, said: “The labels displayed are also there for people to take away and apply to their own tins, to remind them of the current situation and their possible privilege, and perhaps encourage action to support foodbanks.

“I am interested in the idea of the audience as an active participant, contributing to eradicating the issue, rather than a passive viewer. I want people to appreciate the precariousness of the situation and to inspire empathy.”

“Poverty is rarely addressed in art despite it affecting real people on such a large scale. As someone who thinks of art as having the potential to bring about change, I think there is a need for poverty to be addressed visually in the art world.”

For the last two years, the Degree Shows have been held online due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but this Saturday (June 11) the exhibitions will open to the public again as students show off their creations at venues across the city.

Professor Kevin Petrie, head of the School of Art and Design at the University of Sunderland, added: “Even though our online showcases were really successful, it’s great to be returning to live Degree Shows this year.

“It’s also really exciting to be showcasing our students’ creativity across three venues in the city: National Glass Centre, the University of Sunderland’s Priestman Building and Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens.”

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