Bede Sixth Form College has been very privileged to host two eye opening exhibitions from the local charity, Down’s Syndrome North East (DSNE).
The exhibitions, titled ‘Look at me’ and ‘Chromosome 21’, were produced by photographer Kayla Wren. They had originally been intended as one-year projects, but after receiving wonderful levels of support at places like Durham Town Hall and a number of other venues across the North East, the exhibition has continued to run.
Featuring 36 volunteer models ranging in age from a few months to 38 years old, the aims for the project are “to raise awareness with the public of Down’s syndrome and the fact that like us all, children and people with Down’s syndrome are unique, valuable individuals”, and “to raise awareness of our charity… in order to enable more people with Down’s syndrome and their families to benefit from what we are able to offer”.
Caroline, who helped to organise the exhibition at Bede, is one of the committee members of DSNE and her son Leo is one of the models for the exhibition. She said: “I’ve only been on the committee for eight months, but we have been members of the charity since Leo was born. The exhibition just gets such a positive reaction everywhere we go – it’s been so supported.”
Our art and design and photography students were particularly interested in the exhibition, especially the portraits that are the photographer’s twist on classic paintings, like the Mona Lisa and Girl with a Pearl Earring.
Charlotte, an art and design student, said: “My favourite pieces are the traditional artworks with a twist. “It goes against the wider society idea of beauty and the typical model image that tends to be used in artwork.”
Alicia, who also studies art and design, said: “I like the artist’s take on it all – it’s like a protest, with traditional art being modernised and made into something that raises awareness of Down’s syndrome.”
As well as the information boards, the exhibition is also accompanied by a guest book wherever it goes, where viewers can leave their thoughts and comments on the artwork.
Bede students and staff left comments like: “I love how powerful the exhibition is. The images are meaningful and show the individuals in their full glory”, and “beautiful way to raise awareness of Down’s syndrome and to display equality”.
The exhibition is now on display at Stockton Riverside College and will be there until March.
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